Pandemic Fatigue and how to Overcome It

2 Jun 2021

A recent article published by the New York Times perfectly encapsulated what many people are going through today. In it, the author describes pandemic fatigue as the feeling of “languishing” or the sense of stagnation and emptiness we feel. When taken in a modern context, it’s how we describe our moods as being “blah” or “meh.”

In the days since the article came out, many resonated with the feeling of languishing. For them, their languished disposition affected both their professional and personal lives to the extent of feeling unmotivated to do anything. Described as the “neglected middle child” of mental health, languishing can feel like you have not done anything of note this past year. With more people staying indoors, some feel that they are not able to realize their full potential as well.

Let’s look at what it means to languish and how it can be overcome.

What Does it Mean to Languish?

Severe cases of languishing are being not mentally healthy as people could be. Feelings of boredom, monotony and mild anxiety all contribute to this. Because of pandemic fatigue, it can be a struggle to find motivation or to even feel happiness at brief moments.

Constant worrying during the pandemic keeps people up at night.

During the first months of the global pandemic, feelings of panic, worry and fear were felt by many. Tuning into the news or social media and seeing the rising number of cases didn’t help either. This lack of energy may not be noticeable at first, but it can manifest over time. Though the lockdown has given people a sense of solitude, it continues to be a struggle for many. While it’s clear they need to take action, people sometimes just feel that it’s not worth making the effort for.

Overall, this whole year has collectively made people feel very tired.

Overcome Pandemic Fatigue and Start Flourishing

One of the first things people say to affirm others is that they are not alone in what they are going through. For those that feel they are languishing, the same could be said for millions of others going through pandemic fatigue. By recognizing your stagnated state, you can now actively take steps to overcome those moments of emptiness and feeling unmotivated.

According to Dr. Gayani DeSilva, one of the most immediate things people can do is take care of the healthy basics. These include nutritious meals, exercise, relaxation, and stable connections with friends and family. After outlining these, you can ask yourself what you need, and then do it. Whether it’s resting, exercising or getting out of bed, Dr. DeSilva says that there are no wrong choices. “The fact that you made a choice and carried it out takes you out of being ambivalent. There are no wrong choices.”

People distract themselves by taking on artistic endeavors like writing.

Many people took up new artistic hobbies in the past year to distract themselves from pandemic fatigue. The belief is that any creative outlet is better than none, and something where you can get your feelings out. In the same  article, Dr. Leela Magavi encouraged people to try out journaling, which could take many forms. In doing so, you help cultivate gratitude that becomes a major motivator during such uncertain times. “I recommend that my patients list things they are thankful for physically, emotionally, and spiritually every morning and evening, especially when they’re lonely or sad,” she says.

Hope also inspires optimism. As the global situation starts to ease up, some people are also beginning to make their post-pandemic plans. Whether it’s seeing friends, planning trips or just doing “normal” things again. While there is no date set in stone, it still is good to make these plans to motivate yourself for the future.

The End In Sight

As it stands right now, things are changing for the better. This year, with more news of a global vaccine rollout, more people are optimistic that the return to normal is near. Despite this, let’s not forget the mental toll many have gone through. Some are also wary of making any plans right now to see their loved ones.  The caring of mental health took centre stage in this pandemic and should not be overlooked anymore. 

Indeed, returning to normal may (and should) be a gradual transition. The feeling of languishing can be awful, but always remember that it is just temporary. It may not be an easy hill to climb, but always remember you are not alone. When you find your center and your motivation, you can overcome these feelings and begin to flourish once again.