Please note that this is an Archived article and may contain content that is out of date. The use of she/her/hers pronouns in some articles is not intended to be exclusionary. Eating disorders can affect people of all genders, ages, races, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, body shapes, and weights.

By Quinn Nystrom, MS

It’s been 8,000 days since a relentless and brutal virus plunged our world into a global pandemic. Okay, maybe it hasn’t been that long, but it sure feels like it sometimes.

COVID-19 has been no walk in the park for anyone, but it has been especially challenging for those struggling with underlying medical conditions or mental health-related diagnoses. If you feel like the weight of life has gotten a little (or a lot) heavier over these last 24+ months, know that you are not alone.

Scientists and medical professionals are calling the profound fatigue, depression, and lethargy “Pandemic Fatigue,” and I can assure you that this is not just a trendy, made-up word. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines pandemic fatigue as being “demotivated” and exhausted with life demands during the COVID crisis. They also assure us that these feelings are completely normal given the disruptions and uncertainty we are all living in.

Though restrictions are slowly lifting, people are generally tired of being cooped up due to restrictions and tired of wearing masks, physical distancing, being away from family and friends. We long for the days when we could see people’s whole faces and smiles, travel by air with ease, and hug freely.

Even blowing out birthday candles in a room full of people can cause an anxiety attack for some of us. This “new normal” is weird and inconvenient. And it may be here to stay.

Experts also note that pandemic fatigue and burnout appear to be besties. Both offer up symptoms like exhaustion, stress, hopelessness, anxiety, and feeling cynical about the world around you. I think it is safe to say that if you are feeling any of these emotions or symptoms, it’s time to be your own advocate and do something about it.

Taming Pandemic Fatigue/Burnout

1. Ask for help: No one expects you to plow through your darkness alone. Asking for help is the kindest thing we can do for ourselves, and now is the time to step it up in the self-care department. Seek help immediately, whether that means talking to a licensed therapist or a trusted friend.

2. Take care of yourself: Eat the best foods possible and ones closest to their original form. Assure yourself daily that you are doing the best you can do. And that is enough.

3. Move: Nature is so healing! A quick walk down the street or even on your favorite woodland trail will do wonders for your mood. Movement and exercise indoors will help, so dust off that exercise bike or find a yoga app that allows you to move and feel better.

4. You need people: As much as we try to limit gatherings and respect social distancing, we all need human interaction. If face-to-face or in-person socializing is not possible, utilize virtual tools like Zoom or Facetime to stay in contact with your support network.

5. Keep a schedule: As humans, we need things to plan for and look forward to. Forward movement is a good thing. If we do not have the things keeping us moving forward, we will be no different from an automobile tire spinning in a pit of mud. Keep a schedule or routine and stick to it every day. This routine can be as simple as changing from jammies to street clothes or as complex as meal planning for the entire week.

No one knows how long COVID-19 and its variants will continue to change how we “do life.” But we are all resilient and adaptive creatures, so that we will get through this.

Believing in yourself while also having hope for the future will strengthen your resolve and resilience while also helping to carry you through the challenges you may face in the future.

Onward and upward.