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Mind and Matter

Mental Health Corner

Coping with “Pandemic Fatigue”

Months of coping with the stressors of quarantines, social-distancing, shutdowns, losses, grief, uncertainty, and anxiety are taking a toll on our emotional health. “Pandemic Fatigue” (not an official, or a diagnosable condition), is simply a term used to describe the very real impact of COVID-19 related stressors on our feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. When we feel impacted by pandemic fatigue (e.g., during the holidays), we need to remember we are not alone, and that there are things we can do to continue protecting our health and the well-being of those we love.

Recognize the Signs of Pandemic Fatigue:

  1. You are not as diligent about wearing a mask or washing your hands.
  2. You are less careful about social distancing.
  3. You are getting enough sleep but still feel exhausted.
  4. You are feeling more impatient and stressed by tasks you typically manage well.
  5. You are not engaging in things you used to find enjoyable.
  6. You are finding it harder to focus and concentrate.

What You Can Do to Reduce the Impact of Pandemic Fatigue:

Gagandeep Singh, MD, a psychiatrist at Banner Behavioral Health Hospital in Scottsdale, Arizona, shares the following tips to help those impacted by pandemic fatigue build resiliency and feel more in control of their lives.

  1. Acknowledge Your Feelings
    • Acknowledge the mixed feelings you are currently experiencing, the notion that it seems things will never get better, or that you wish you knew what will happen in six months. Call that out, and move to the next phase of what you can do “right now” to make things better.
  2. Reframe Your Thinking
    • You may be sick and tired of staying home, washing your hands excessively, and wearing a mask, but remind yourself of your sense of purpose. Realize that by wearing a mask in public and staying home when possible, you play a larger part in humanity by keeping yourself and others safe. What you are doing is responsible and crucial to our society getting through this together. You may not have control of public health or public policy, but you do have control over how you’ll respond to the pandemic and do your part to control the spread.
  3. Use Humor
    • While the pandemic is no laughing matter, go ahead and laugh—if you can. Laughter release endorphins and helps reduce stress hormones which help decrease fear and anxiety. Use internet streaming services to tune into comedies or lighthearted programming to offer your mind and body a respite from the day’s stress.
  4. Connect with Others
    • Being removed from family and friends, especially when you live alone or during the holidays, can be stressful. Being physically distant does not mean you have to be socially isolated. There are many ways to still feel connected.
      • Set up regular Zoom/Facetime calls with friends and family.
      • Have socially distanced hangouts outdoors with a small group of friends.
      • Schedule a movie streaming party and watch a movie with friends.
      • Get old-fashioned and write a letter.
      • Go on a socially distanced hike or walk with a friend.
  5. Take Care of Yourself
    • When you are wrapped up with working from home, schooling from home, and managing the household, you may forget to take care of yourself. Make sure you eat healthily, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and limit your social media intake. Doing these things can lift your spirits, boost your energy levels, and help you take better care for loved ones.
  6. Find Gratitude in Challenges
    • Have your conversations and thoughts lately gravitated towards negativity? If gratitude does not come naturally for you—especially right now—you’re not alone. Gratitude is something that, with a little practice, can become a regular habit. It can help remind you how special, precious, and fortunate we are and even help you cope with the stress of these uncertain times.
    • Each day, try writing down three things that went well, made you feel good, or gave you a sense of achievement. It can be as simple as sitting down with your family to watch a movie. At first, it may be difficult when you feel like things are so dire, but with continual practice, things you are grateful for will become clearer and ever-present.
  7. Seek Support
    • If pandemic fatigue is getting in the way of you properly caring for yourself and others, please reach out for support. Reaching out to family and friends during a time of need will serve to instill feelings of connectedness and decrease isolation. Challenges are frequently more easily weathered when we feel the company of others. The UM Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) is also available to assist faculty and staff as well as their eligible dependents via telehealth appointment. The FSAP team of Florida licensed mental health professional offer consultations to clients to render support, develop plans for addressing presented concerns, and recommend resources which help clients arrive at creative solutions.


Winch, Guy, Ph.D., (Aug. 2020), 10 Signs You Have Pandemic Fatigue and How to Cope, Psychology Today.

Olsson, Regan, (Sep. 2020), Pandemic Fatigue: How to Manage COVID-19 Burnout, Banner Behavioral Health.

Click here to read the full Mind and Matter Holiday Edition.