What is Pandemic Fatigue and How Can We Cope with It?

Recently, the U.S. reached the one-year mark in its battle against the coronavirus. This past month also marks a year since the CSU shutdown. These milestones, mixed with a spring break for CSU that has been moved back, may lead to members of the community to feel the effects of what’s known as pandemic fatigue.

Now according to a psychologytoday.com article by Guy Winch Ph.D. called, “10 Signs You Have Pandemic Fatigue and How to Cope,” pandemic fatigue isn’t known as an official or diagnosable condition. It is simply a term created to describe the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors people may experience as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic.

The article also says that the 10 signs of pandemic fatigue include:

  • Exhaustion, despite getting enough sleep

  • Less diligence and care in COVID safety protocols

  • More impatient, irritable, and easier to upset

  • Feeling stressed and finding it harder to focus

  • Feelings of hopelessness about the future

  • Increased consumption of alcohol, substances, or food

“Quarantining has really exacerbated some of the things we normally experience,” said Viviane Ephraimson-Abt, MS., M.Ed., LPC, Manager of Well-Being Initiatives at the CSU Health Network. If people already have tendencies towards depression or anxiety, the pandemic fatigue can heighten that.

When trying to deal with a high-stress situation like pandemic fatigue, Ephraimson-Abt says people may go into a fight, flight, or freeze response. These responses can include actively working to do everything possible to meet and try to beat this challenge or people may just try to distract themselves from it in different ways like sleeping more or indulging in distracting activities.

Along with facing pandemic fatigue, Ephraimson-Abt says that the faculty and staff at CSU may also be facing other challenges including multiple caregiving roles. With family and students staying home, faculty, staff and even students may find themselves caring for parents and/or young children who have to be homeschooled. 

But CSU has worked to support the members of the community dealing with these changes and challenges. 

“We know that when faculty and staff are supported, students are then better supported,” said Ephraimson-Abt.

While these fight, flight, or freeze responses are instinctual, they may not be the best ways to cope with pandemic fatigue and the quarantine. However, CSU has many different resources available to students, faculty, and staff to help them effectively deal with the fatigue.

One way is through CSU’s COVID Connect. This resource can help people identify how they’re coping, what their feelings are, and some self-care needs for that person. From there, it observes people’s habits and gives them steps towards self-care strategies.

Another resource is called Silver Cloud. This has cognitive behavioral health modules that essentially act as an online therapy tool for those who may not be ready to speak with a counselor. 

There is also an app called Nod that is available in the app stores that can help people develop and strengthen their social connections and sense of belonging. It allows people to have a social life even if they are away from the people they care about.

There are many more resources available to CSU students, staff, and faculty and you can find out more about them by visiting health.colostate.edu/mental-health-resources or scanning the QR code below.

“It’s important to find the resource that fits your particular situation,” said Ephraimson-Abt. “We have a lot to learn from our challenges and getting the support we need as we’re doing that is super important.”