May 25, 2022

Pandemic Exhaustion May Be Affecting You More Than You Know

Mother looks stressed, sitting at a table with a computer and cell phone while working from home. Her two young children are talking to her and she sits with a hand on her head.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, most people experienced a dramatic increase in their stress level and were very aware of that fact. But in the many months since, you may have gotten used to a higher stress level and become less aware of the toll it can be taking on your physical, mental, and emotional health. 

That’s both good news and bad news. The good news is that you’ve adapted and found ways to keep moving forward in the face of hardship and uncertainty. The bad news is that you may not be taking the actions necessary to deal with the exhaustion that results from being under pressure for an extended period.

In addition, as pandemic-related restrictions on gatherings and travel have been lifted, many people are trying to “make up for lost time.” That’s understandable, but it can add to your stress level and exhaustion. 

How to Spot Pandemic Exhaustion

The main symptom of pandemic exhaustion (sometimes called pandemic fatigue or pandemic burnout) is not having the energy you need — and used to have — to complete work, personal, or recreational activities. And, particularly if the activity itself is taxing, it can be hard to tell whether pandemic exhaustion is to blame. 

Other symptoms that may accompany a lack of energy include:

  • Feeling depressed or anxious
  • Being tired even after getting a good night’s sleep
  • Failing to comply with pandemic-related restrictions or best practices
  • Being irritable with friends and family
  • Making mistakes or producing poor-quality work

If you suffer from some or all of these symptoms, you should take action to address your pandemic exhaustion. 

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How to Address Pandemic Exhaustion

If you realize that you’re suffering from pandemic exhaustion, the tips below can help you combat it.

  • Get regular exercise. It may seem counterintuitive to do activities that take energy when you’re lacking energy, but exercise helps relieve stress, and a decrease in stress can help you recharge your physical and emotional “batteries.” 
  • Meditate, pray, or use other stress-reducing activities. Calming your mind through meditation or prayer can help you address your pandemic exhaustion, particularly the mental and emotional aspects of it.
  • Improve your diet. It’s been common during the pandemic for people to turn to comfort foods that aren’t always healthy. Fueling your body with a nutritious diet can help increase your energy level. 
  • Pay attention to hydration. Energy level and hydration are closely linked. Be sure to give your body the water it needs to function properly. 
  • Prioritize rest. In pre-pandemic times, you may have rested or napped only when an opportunity presented itself. If you’re battling pandemic exhaustion, you should be intentional about finding time to rest or nap daily.

It’s also important to find the right balance in your work, social, and personal time. We’ve all missed out on social events during the pandemic but trying to catch up too quickly can do more harm than good. 

A good way to stay connected with people but not wear yourself out is to attend events but for less time than in the past. For example, if you might have spent four hours at a party in pre-pandemic times, consider going but only spending two hours. Then, as your energy level improves, you can slowly work back up to your full social calendar.  

Talk with Your Baptist Health Doctor About Pandemic Exhaustion

Exhaustion isn’t something you should “just push through.” Ignoring it can have serious health consequences. In addition to using the tips above, you should talk with your Baptist Health doctor if you need help addressing your fatigue. 

If you don’t have a physician, you can find one in our online provider directory.

Next Steps and Useful Resources

Find a Provider
10 Ways to Manage Frustration That the Pandemic Isn’t Over Yet
How to Manage COVID-19 Burnout and Pandemic Fatigue
How To Stop Emotional & Stress Eating

Learn More.