Fending off pandemic fatigue

A year later, we are in a different phase of the pandemic. 

We have vaccines. Yes. But not everyone has gotten a shot yet, and new varieties of the coronavirus continue to surface and spread. 

There’s no sense of when the pandemic will end. 

At times, our patience wanes. We’re tired of face masks, tired of Zoom, tired of needing to stand 6 feet away when we walk past people in the grocery store, in the neighborhood, in the park.  

As CFAES mental health counselor, David Wirt listens daily to stories of frustration: about finding and meeting friends, staying interested in school, feeling lonely, and wondering if anyone else is struggling despite their perky posts on Instagram.

“There are points when you’re going to get sick of this. You don’t have to act as if you always have it together. That’s more denial, really.”David Wirt, CFAES counselor

Wirt often hears: I’m just ready for the pandemic to be over.

Fed up with the uncertainty and the isolation, we inevitably experience moments or periods of what has been dubbed “pandemic fatigue,” feeling irritable and exhausted—sometimes both—and finding it challenging to muster any optimism. 

“There are points when you’re going to get sick of this. You don’t have to act as if you always have it together,” Wirt said. “That’s more denial, really.”

It’s important to acknowledge frustration, but not get stuck in it so every day feels like a fight against inertia—that feeling of “Why bother?” 

Wirt offered some advice about how to get past pandemic fatigue:


Know your priorities at the start of the day.

Try to focus on those priorities without being harsh on yourself if you don’t accomplish everything you set out to do. Setting priorities can help you move through the day with a sense of purpose. But know that you may not get them all done and that’s okay.


If you’re working from home, try to pick a designated room or portion of a room where you do your work.

For people working or taking classes at home, there’s no natural transition—such as a commute or a walk to another building to help people unwind or disconnect after the class or workday ends. Without those transitions, it can be hard to disconnect. Whatever spot you choose for your “home office,” don’t let that interfere with the rest of your home. Leave it when you’re done for the day. 


Resist the urge to digest any more news than you need.  

We keep hearing about new variants of the novel coronavirus, hurdles to getting the vaccine, heart-wrenching stories of unexpected deaths. Though it’s important to know about developments in the pandemic, spending a lot of time focusing on them can be paralyzing.


Every day, or as often as possible, spend time doing something you enjoy, even if it’s just for a few minutes at a time.

Each day can get jampacked with tasks to check off a list. Adding something you love doing can help you recharge and shift your mindset to optimism.


Start something new that you’ve been thinking about doing. 

That could be a new hobby, a new sport, a new online group. Starting something new can shift your focus from pandemic stress to something to learn, accomplish, or connect with.


Stay in touch. Call people. 

We are all social beings. Texting someone or just reading their posts on social media likely won’t fill the void of not seeing or talking to them. Phone or video calling will allow for back and forth. Face-to-face communication, even if it happens via screens, is generally preferred. 


Get in touch with the spiritual realm daily. 

That could mean a walk in nature, journaling, meditating, or finding spiritual connection through a practiced faith. Try to develop a regular habit of it, even just 10 minutes a day. 


Extend compassion to people. You may not know what they’re going through. 

Many are reeling from the pandemic’s losses. If you’re patient and don’t assume intent in what might appear to be rudeness or lack of a response, you might stave off unnecessary frustration.