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Pandemic Fatigue

Feb 10, 2022, 13:38 PM by Marilyn Burgoyne
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines pandemic fatigue as being “demotivated” and exhausted with the demands of life during the COVID crisis. The WHO warns that this fatigue could ultimately lead to a longer, more devastating pandemic.

Christine Hackett-Czar

Health and Wellness Specialist



The World Health Organization (WHO) defines pandemic fatigue as being “demotivated” and exhausted with the demands of life during the COVID crisis. The WHO warns that this fatigue could ultimately lead to a longer, more devastating pandemic.

Here’s a key fact: Pandemic fatigue is completely natural.

Here are some common symptoms

  • Feeling cynical and emotionally exhausted. Two of the most common burnout symptoms are feeling emotionally drained and cynical about the world around you. Researchers have observed these symptoms in people who have worked in demanding environments during the pandemic.
  • Being less effective on the job. Burnout happens when you have run out of personal resources. Self-doubt creeps in and, over time, you may not be able to pay as much attention to work tasks. Researchers have noticed that some people with pandemic-related burnout begin feeling like a failure at work.
  • Having a deep sense of anxiety about the future. Your anxiety may be related to your own future or the future of your community and the wider world. Researchers think this anxiety comes from the fact that you can’t predict when the pandemic will end. When things are unpredictable, people often feel they have no control over their lives.
  • Being less willing to comply with health guidelines. As the pandemic drags on, more people are tiring of restrictions such as mask-wearing and social distancing. Growing tired of inconvenient public safety measures may be natural, but experts say it could prolong the pandemic even further.

When stress begins to accumulate from negative or challenging events in life that just keep coming, you can find yourself in a state of feeling emotionally worn out and drained. This is called emotional exhaustion. For most people, emotional exhaustion tends to slowly build up over time. Emotional exhaustion includes emotional, physical and performance symptoms.


Emotional Symptoms

Physical Symptoms

Performance Symptoms




Feeling hopeless

Feeling powerless or trapped


Lack of motivation





Lack of appetite

Sore muscles or muscle tension





Failing to meet deadlines

Lower workplace commitment

More absences

Performing work duties more slowly





Strategies for Dealing with COVID burnout

Keep your routines – this helps maintain good mental health. But how do you hang onto your routines when you’re suddenly working from home?  In times of uncertainty, narrow your focus to those routines that are necessary for maintaining your livelihood and basic health needs like eating well and getting good sleep. These often have the biggest influence on how stressed you feel.  Social routines are also important to your mental health. You may need to adapt or replace these habits to fit into your new daily schedule.  Try to keep your hours of work consistent, and create a ‘natural’ barrier at the end of your workday. Normally, this might be ‘the drive home’. However, in this era of remote work, it might be a stretch or a walk to signal the end of your workday.

Strengthen ties with your most important relationships

Finding and fostering new relationships takes a lot of effort, if you are feeling fatigued or overwhelmed leaning on established relationships can give you a sense of community without using too much of your emotional resource.

Be aware of addictive behavior risk- mental health experts say that when there is economic uncertainty, food insecurity and isolation people feel more stressed.

Researchers recommend that you plan relaxing and enjoyable activities, practice deep breathing and try meditation.

Build your resilience- this may be a personal trait but can be built up intentionally.

Believe in yourself – remind yourself of all you have successfully overcome in the past.

Pay attention to the present moment- develop a mindfulness habit; it can increase resilience

Exercise – it will build your body’s resilience and your brain’s resilience too.


Where to get help?

Access Toromont’s EFAP Programs: Click here for access information

Try other great apps to help:


In Summary

People across the globe are feeling exhausted by the prolonged pandemic. You are not alone! However, by focusing on what you CAN do, (vs. what you can’t) you can navigate through effectively, and be a positive force for others as well.  The pandemic will not last forever, and the self-care skills you build now may carry you through the challenges you face in the future





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