The summer of 2020 was like no other. For the first time in years, the world came together as
we watched the Novel Coronavirus halt the world that never stops in its tracks. Millions stood
paralyzed as they watched the virus sweep its way across the globe taking life as we knew it,
with its undiscriminating claws. Meanwhile, our heroes in scrubs suited up for the battle of their
careers. Weddings were lost, hard-earned graduations robbed, lives were stolen.
Coronavirus has had devastating effects on our economies, societies, and, importantly, our
mental health. Everyone’s individual experience coping with the COVID19 pandemic has
resulted in a range of long term cognitive effects of the trauma we have experienced. Both the
Canadian Journal of Psychiatry and Journal of Affective Disorders has published findings linking
the pandemic to increased rates of mental illness and the need for safe crisis intervention.
People have reported increased anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other mental health
What is Emotional Exhaustion?
Though you may not feel as though what you are experiencing is accurately described by one
title or disorder, you may still feel generally unwell. Emotional exhaustion is the perpetual feeling
of being emotionally drained or worn out. It is caused by times of significant life stress or
change, like a global pandemic. Emotional exhaustion can present in many different forms,
varying person to person; the following are common exhaustion signs:
● Changing Moods (anxiety, depression, apathy, lack of motivation, etc.)
● Difficulty thinking critically
● Changes in appetite
● Heart palpitations
● Poor self-esteem
● Poor work performance
● Social Withdrawal
Though traditionally reserved for those in high-stress situations or careers such as front line
workers, the effects of emotional exhaustion have been seen in the majority of people as they
navigate the stress of the pandemic. Emotional exhaustion can affect one’s workplace
performance as those suffering will withdraw from friends and coworkers and feel alienated from
others around them. It is no surprise that those suffering will have a measurable reduction in
performance standards at work due to the negativity clouding their judgment and self-
During difficult times when we can not control our surroundings, we must be mindful of the
impacts of trauma and exhaustion on us. Healing and recovering from emotional exhaustion can
be a months-long process, especially given the pandemics enduring nature. Be mindful of not
only yourself but of your friends and family as they too endure their stresses and experience
During COVID19. Recovery from emotional exhaustion can involve multiple methods, such as
● Reduce added stress
● Emphasize a healthy lifestyle
● Maintain a healthy work-life balance
● Connect with others such as friends, family, and professional help
● Change your attitude
Emotional exhaustion alone may not seem concerning. We all feel burnt out from time to time.
But during times of unrest, those burnt out moments can seem never-ending. It is important to
recognize emotional exhaustion before it can lead to more severe health concerns such as a
compromised immune system. The pandemic has proven itself to be here for longer than
anyone initially thought. We must learn to adapt to the increased stress in our everyday lives
and cope with our physical and mental well-being threats.
Stay safe; stay together.
Leonord, J. (2018, October 24). Emotional exhaustion: Causes, symptoms, risk factors,
and prevention. Retrieved September 15, 2020, from