The escalating pandemic of COVID-19 created a perfect storm for stress, anxiety, depression, and the newly described "pandemic fatigue." People of all ages had to get used to new habits like wearing a mask, social distancing, and stay-at-home orders, in addition to the fear of catching the infection.

The World Health Organization defines pandemic fatigue as “a natural and expected reaction to sustained and unresolved adversity in people’s lives.” Feeling unmotivated and burnout are the main signs, but this condition is more complex and may have long-term consequences.

Lack Of Energy

Everyone experiences a lack of energy after a long day at work or not enough sleep during the night. However, the lack of energy caused by pandemic fatigue is clearly due to the current pandemic. This fatigue is persistent, felt on a regular basis, even during the weekend and after sleeping enough.

Lack of energy manifests with feeling tired and unrefreshed in the morning and throughout the day. Even simple tasks like going for a walk or doing household chores are overwhelming.

exhausted man falling asleep at his desk


Lack Of Motivation

Lack of motivation is in part due to feeling exhausted, but can also be a sign of excess stress and depression. Feeling unmotivated is one of the biggest obstacles to reaching a goal, whether it is a personal one or a task at work. Lack of motivation makes it hard to start, work on, or complete any project. Everything feels like an endless struggle.

distractive unmotivated woman at work looking out window


Mental Fatigue

Mental fatigue goes hand in hand with physical fatigue. It is described as an inability to think clearly as well as trouble with focus and concentration. Some people have a hard time paying attention or understanding information. Others find it difficult to make decisions, solve an issue, or remember things.

frustrated woman experiencing mental fatigue at work


Feeling Cynical

According to researchers who evaluated pandemic fatigue, people feel cynical about the world around them, especially when the work is demanding, like in hospitals.

Cynicism, along with detachment from the job and a sense of being ineffective, are the three main responses to burnout. Cynicism is the attitude or inclination to be skeptical, and have negative opinions about other people or things they do.

cynical woman reading information on the internet


A Sense of Incompetence

It is normal to feel ineffective from time to time, as life has its ups and downs. However, it can become a problem when is experienced long term. Feeling ineffective or even incompetent is another way burnout and mental fatigue manifest. In this case, a person feels unable to accomplish a task, whether it is personal or work-related.

Frustrated female worker at office at computer


Sleeping Problems

A good night's sleep is essential for both physical and emotional health. Research shows that sleep problems correlate with pandemic fatigue and stress.

Stress and sleep have a two-way relationship. Poor sleep leads to fatigue during the day and more stress. Conversely, burnout, anxiety, and depression cause sleeping problems.

depressed man unable to sleep


Sedentary Lifestyle

A few factors are involved in increased sedentarism including pandemic fatigue, excess stress, temporary closure of gym facilities, stay-at-home orders, and emotional eating. Harvard researchers warn that pandemic weight gain is real and increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and other conditions.

According to one study, the participants' weight increased by roughly 1.5 pounds per month.

lazy couple watching tv on couch


Increased Alcohol Consumption

Pandemic-related fatigue and stress, along with social isolation and other restrictive measures, have significantly increased the consumption of alcohol. Alcohol abuse worsens physical illnesses and mental conditions, including those that lead to violence and abusive behavior.

Alcohol abuse may also contribute to increased vulnerability to COVID-19 and the severity of the disease, according to research.

woman alone at home with wine bottle


Muscle Aches and Pains

Researchers found an association between burnout and muscle pain. Factors that contribute to muscle pain include a sedentary life, weight gain, poor posture while working remotely, stress, fatigue, and sleeping problems.

For some people, these muscle pains and aches are new symptoms related to the pandemic: low back pain, neck pain, muscles aches, and other physical pain. Those who had muscle aches and pains before the pandemic may feel the pain getting worse.

woman with sore back in bed


How To Cope With the Pandemic Fatigue

Mental fatigue and stress can be improved with so-called restorative experiences like taking a walk in nature, looking at the sky or a sunset, and gardening.

It is important to have a routine, including the time to go to bed and wake up, work hours, an exercise program, and eating healthy foods at regular hours. These simple measures can help improve sleep and boost energy levels. Stay connected with family and friends, even virtually, if meeting in person is not possible. Avoid watching a lot of news, and stay up-to-date using reliable information from health authorities, not scare-tactic sites and accounts.

smiling woman listening to music with salad


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