Burning Out on the Pandemic? You’re Not Alone

Man covering his eyes.

Are you feeling tired, irritable and sad? Do you feel like you are excessively worried, having nightmares or headaches, feeling your muscles tense up during the day? What about a sense of constantly being on guard, like you are waiting for something bad to happen at any minute? 

Although you might feel some or all of these things from time to time, they are definitely signs that you are starting to burn out on the pandemic and the unwanted and unexpected changes it has brought to our lives.

It’s important to know that the effects of the COVID outbreak on our well-being are very real, very normal and that there are things you can do to take care of yourself and those around you who are feeling stressed.

During a crisis like this, burnout emerges for many reasons. For some, it’s  the worry and stress of caring for family members. For some it’s the financial difficulties brought on by the loss of income or jobs. For many of us, it’s the change in routines, the loss of physically being together, and the inability to engage in favorite activities that give our lives structure and meaning. And for all of us, it’s the inability to know for sure when our lives might start to regain some sense of normalcy. 

So what are some things to keep in mind when the feeling of burnout takes over?

Keep your routines. Know what you plan to do each day, whether it’s work or childcare, or just taking a walk and calling a friend. Stick to it even though your energy may be low. Just taking a shower in the morning and making the bed can create a sense of normalcy that can help throughout the day.

Practice self-care. Get enough sleep. Eat healthy foods. Get some exercise each day. Stretch. Try to think of things you are grateful for, even during these difficult times. Try deep breathing or meditation. Anything that slows us down and takes us away from negative thoughts for a few minutes is a good thing.

Connect. Call people who may need a lift themselves and check in. Set up virtual gatherings with friends and families. Find fun things to do and see online, like games, movies, museums, fun videos and many others. Look into virtual classes and things your local schools, libraries and faith-based organizations are providing online. 

Keep an eye out for negative patterns or activities. It’s tempting to let our guard down around food and alcohol, but junk food and excessive drinking are obvious things that negatively affect our health and well-being. Others that are not as obvious include excessive shopping, too much time on social media and even overdoing it on news consumption. If you notice that your time on Facebook, for example, or news sites starts to make you feel bad, then it’s time to set strict limits on how much time you spend there.

And if none of these things help? Mental health providers are available for telehealth sessions to ensure that you have the support that you need, while maintaining safety.

For more information, check out www.samhsa.gov/disaster-preparedness for links to SAMHSA's tip sheets on mental health during quarantine, disasters and working during these times. 

 We are in this together and we will get through this together too.