The True Psychological Symptoms of the Pandemic

Have you have been feeling stressed out, fatigued, defeated, unenthusiastic, and just all around burnt out? Well, you are not alone. These past couple of weeks have made many of us feel like matches that have been left out to burn from the top all the way to the bottom. We. Are. Burnt. Out.

Every day we wake up in the morning expected to perform at an incredibly high rate as though our society, and to a larger degree our world has not been collapsing around us. It has been a constant avalanche of disheartening news that not even spring, summer, fall, or winter could mitigate. News of vaccines, and societal reforms have brought brief moments of joy, but those hopeful seconds are quickly swallowed whole by our feelings of desperation, emptiness, hopelessness, and complete exhaustion.

We must be easy on ourselves though, it has been over a year of our adrenaline, stress, and anxiety being on full throttle. Granted, although at the beginning our stressed-out emotional reaction kept us moving, now we are totally and completely overworked and overloaded. You might notice your motivation is down, your energy levels have depleted, you’ve been feeling extra apathetic about everything lately, and every cheerful reaction seems to be completely forced. Our cup has essentially been overfilled, and it’s about to burst.

In saying all this though, it is equally important to remember that this experience is a normal reaction. It is okay, and even expected to feel stuck, down, and completely over it. Acknowledge and respect those feelings, be gentle with yourself, and take a break as these whirlwinds of emotions circle around you.

Usually, these stress-anxiety filled responses we’ve been feeling occur in response to discomforting event. For example, say a car is coming at you, or you’re being chased by an animal, your brain is going to send a burst of anxiety and stress inducing hormones to get your system into action and out of the way. Once you’re safe, or the stressor is removed, the brain begins it’s homeostasis process, and brings your body to a restful state. Throughout this past year, however, there have been so many different environmental stressors, that our biology is completely overloaded with cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. We simply cannot reach that homeostasis nirvana. As a result of our nervous system being completely drained and overworked, our emotions are also more volatile. Everything bothers us, our thoughts about the future become uncertain, we want to be left alone, our memory is completely foggy, and all we want to do is take a break and just be.

So, then what do we do? In a world where regardless of age we are all burnout, tired, stressed, and defeated what can we do? Gym’s aren’t really an option, vacation is difficult to come by, and family visits aren’t necessarily an option. So, what is there to do?

Well, with our old ways of coping not being viable for right now, we must first figure out the source of all the stress, discomfort, and anxiety. The source could espouse from various medias, television, radio, news, a job, a person, or a conversation. Once you have identified the main avenue where the stress is coming from, it is important to make a plan to address this source. Typically, what is recommended, is to separate yourself from that stressful environment. It’s important to create a healthy boundary and set personal goals for yourself that are positive and achievable. This could be eating a healthy snack, calling an old friend or family member, going

for a run, reading a book, anything that is simple and feasible. Repeating, and accumulating those small activities over time makes a huge difference. Not immediately, but gradually, over time these small changes create large, and beneficial outcomes that allow us to break through our exhaustion.

Remember, you are not a superhero, you are a human. This pandemic has been defeating, it has been difficult, and it has felt bleak. Be kind to yourself, take it day by day, and keep moving forward step by step because we will all get through this together.

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