Feeling Pandemic Burnout? Here’s How You Can Work on It
Since the pandemic began, a lot of people have had to deal with the combination of disheartening information regarding COVID-19 cases, pressure to do well at work despite the circumstances, and/or failure to socialize and celebrate with family or friends.
People react to significant changes like a pandemic differently, and while some thrive, others aren’t as lucky. Some have had to deal with some form of a pandemic burnout or fatigue.
If you’re struggling with any feelings of burnout or fatigue because of the pandemic, know that you’re not alone. Perhaps you’ve heard some friends, colleagues, or family members say they’re experiencing “cabin fever” or “lockdown blues.”
Know that the emotions you’re feeling are valid. On a more uplifting note, do remember that these feelings aren’t forever and there are some ways you can address a pandemic burnout – learn more about them here.
What Is Pandemic Burnout?
While there is no dictionary definition of what a “pandemic burnout” is just yet, several studies shed light on how the COVID-19 pandemic triggered these feelings amongst various sectors of society.
A 2020 International Wound Journal study highlighted that people suffering from a burnout related to the pandemic may feel more drained and find themselves incapable of “functioning” when it comes to certain aspects of their life. Moreover, when people feel burnt out they may have reduced motivation and increased feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and resentment.
This was also evident in a 2021 PLoS One study that focused on healthcare workers from multiple countries, one of the sectors most affected by the pandemic. Study authors defined burnout as “a syndrome of exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced professional efficacy.” These health workers reported feelings of exhaustion and disengagement or depersonalization, due to extreme and excessive demands at work coupled with limited resources to achieve certain tasks.
However, it’s just not health workers who are greatly affected by pandemic burnout. In separate studies, published in 2022 and 2021 respectively, students and office workers working from home reported feelings of burnout due to very abrupt changes caused by the pandemic. Multiple factors such as lack of adequate resources and changes in work location may have contributed to these feelings.
Although it is not easy to quickly resolve a pandemic burnout, there are some solutions to consider that can help burnt out people address some of the thoughts and feelings they’re currently struggling with.
What Are Some of the Ways to Address a Pandemic Burnout?
If you’re overwhelmed because of pandemic-related reasons, here are some ways you can cope with these so you’re less anxious and fatigued:
- Add structure or routine into your daily activities: Just as you would on a normal work day pre-pandemic, make sure there’s a certain order to the tasks you’re about to do for the day. By adding the right amount of “structure” into your daily activities, you’ll feel more in control and less overwhelmed.
- Establish boundaries: This can be as literal as allotting a space in your home that’s dedicated for work, play, or other significant tasks. In line with the first point, don’t forget to establish work-life balance too. Know where to draw the line between work tasks and time spent doing things you like.
- Take care of yourself: It’s a known fact that physical and mental health are intertwined, so take care of your body well. Get enough sleep, eat healthy food, exercise when you can, and practice hobbies that spark joy for you.
- Connect (or reconnect) with people in your life: Knowing that you’re in the same boat with other people can feel reassuring, right? As such, allot time to call or chat with someone important in your life, whether it be family, friends, or even coworkers. The simple act of checking up on people can make their day better.
- Check your sources: While staying in the loop with the latest in COVID-19 is admirable, being constantly barraged with bad news may cause you to become more anxious. To mitigate these feelings while still staying informed, try to check the news at a specific time of the day, and only look at reliable and trustworthy sources.
- Seek professional help: When the feelings become too unbearable and some symptoms persist, consult a therapist. Your mental health is especially important during these times, and a therapist may help you address your concerns, manage your emotions, and suggest mechanisms that’ll allow you to feel better.
While it’s unknown at this point when the pandemic will end and when everyone gets to resume their “normal” lives, it’s still vital to take care of all aspects of your health. Addressing pandemic burnout and fatigue as early as possible can result in significant positive changes for your well-being.