Pandemic Fatigue – Not Just Another Buzzword

Pandemic Fatigue – Not Just Another Buzzword article image

Contributed by: Catherine M. Seeber, CFP®, CeFT® A Certified Financial Transitionist (CeFT®) is trained to help clients navigate through major life events and the financial transitions that accompany them. The CeFT® is the industry’s first designation specifically geared toward financial change and transition.

As seen in recent headlines, the term pandemic fatigue describes the impact of COVID-19 related stressors on our feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. I am writing not to explain how to define it, or suggest how one might deal with it, but to relate it to any life transition one faces during their lifetime and the resilience one can build in their response to a drastic shift in their internal and external world.

Any change is an integral part of the human experience. Change creates the opportunity for new and different things to happen, both financially and personally. In my work as a Certified Financial Transitionist™, we call these adaptive challenges that require the auditing of existing systems, roles, and responsibilities. New discoveries and adjustments emerge. Without learning new ways—changing attitudes, values, and behaviors—people cannot make the adaptive leap necessary to thrive in their new environment.

The sustainability of change requires the person experiencing the life event to internalize the change itself. And that individual’s responses and decisions are directly impacted by their emotions, the amount of and quality of energy they have, their relationship to stress, and their history of resilience. Transitions affect how we think, feel, and act. Like transition fatigue, in pandemic fatigue you may find yourself:

• Making regrettable decisions • Jeopardizing relationships • Losing resilience

We call that phenomenon transition struggle, and it can take many forms, including attention span difficulties and withdrawal. On the other hand, some people experience transitions as invigorating and meet their challenges with enthusiasm and clarity. We call this transition flow. Recognizing which trait someone is experiencing is the first step. And yes, a transition flow that sounds positive can be enhanced upon acknowledgment. The skills developed during the transition can be used when the next major life event occurs. And it will.

Change can be exhausting. And when change follows change and it seems like constant adaptation is required for months, fatigue can easily result. Hence, pandemic fatigue. Extended times of change management and adaptation can affect you physically and mentally.

It is important to understand that some fatigue is visible only to people who are paying attention and can connect the dots between their own behavior and their prior life transition experiences. There is clarity for the person dealing with the struggle.

Or, the fatigue might not be as obvious. Instead, you might see someone’s difficulty in paying attention or following a set schedule. This results in their inability to follow through on anything as well as their inability to make wise decisions. When someone is in the unfamiliar territory of fatigue, admitting to it is also very difficult.

Regardless of one’s experience with fatigue, there are only two directions one can take: one that is hopeful and one that is hopeless. It just so happens that those who have a history of meeting challenges and obstacles with strength and confidence are more resilient; therefore, they are more hopeful. They understand that they will overcome the situation because they always have. It is almost like the stress enhances their mindset.

Someone who is experiencing fatigue with hopelessness finds it difficult to see the future and feels a sense of loss of optimism and opportunity, almost as if it is easier to choose suffering rather than taking control.

Only once there is an acknowledgement of which trait one is experiencing—a struggle or a flow—can the work begin. This requires a walk-through self-reflection based on past experiences—at your own pace. Think back on what it has been like to learn valuable lessons that can help you optimize your efforts and skill sets. This powerful dexterity exercise can relieve some or all the struggle and move you closer to flow. And you know you will be okay when you reach the other side of whatever situation you find yourself in—this time and next time.