Is It The 'Pandemic Blues' Or Has It Become Something More?

by Holly Garcia

This pandemic has us feeling all the feels. We’re exhausted and fatigued. Honey, we’re feeling the pandemic blues in big and major ways. Some days, everything feels overwhelming. We worry about being exposed to COVID. Climate change is something literally no one can ignore anymore. Honestly, eight out of the seven days of the week (yes, you read that right) it feels like the world is just one big dumpster fire.

Am I being dramatic? Guilty as charged, but you have to admit, life in a never-ending pandemic has taken its toll on all of us. It can be hard to determine if these feelings of stress, fatigue, sadness, and overwhelm with life are something temporary, or part of a bigger issue. So let’s take a look at what the difference is between living with the pandemic blues or more serious mental health disorders.

Stress Reaction Vs. Mental Illness

So, how do you know if it’s the pandemic blues or something more? While both stress and mental illnesses (like depression) share similar qualities, some factors set them apart.

Stress, in small doses, can actually be healthy for us. It keeps our fight or flight response in tip-top shape. The problem comes in when stress continues for extended periods and becomes chronic. Eons and eons ago, our stress reaction kept us alive. Nowadays, when we don’t practice enough self-care to balance the stress reaction, it can culminate into something more serious, like poor mental health, or contribute to mental illness. Unlike depression or anxiety, this stress and feelings of despair will ebb and flow. The pandemic blues might leave you feeling stressed, worn-out, and downright fatigued for a few days at a time.

On the other hand, mental illnesses like anxiety or depression will last two weeks or longer. According to Psychology Today, the main difference between a case of the pandemic blues and depression is the severity and the duration of your symptoms. But before you go self-diagnosing yourself with anxiety or depression try out a few different strategies to cope. While there is no right or wrong way, there are ways to cope that are definitely more constructive and healthy than others. You do you, boo. But if you’re at a loss for where to start, we rounded up a few ideas to help you out and give you some relief.

Ways to Cope With the Pandemic Blues

Connect and Reach Out

Connection is a major part of human nature. If you’re staying in and don’t feel comfortable going out, reach out and connect with your friends and family. You can text, call, video chat — hell, send a carrier pigeon if you so desire. But talk to someone. I promise you’re not the only one struggling. It can be incredibly validating to hear, but you also might just have a great conversation to take you away from it all for a while.

Catch Extra Zzz’s

Yes, I know. Catching up on sleep is easier said than done. Would it be great to get a nap in every now and then, of course, but more realistically, this probably looks more like adjusting your habits. So put the phone down at night and stop doom scrolling. Pick up a book or listen to some relaxing music. Get your zen on and see if you can’t get to bed a little bit sooner. Feeling well-rested can help stop the pandemic blues in their tracks.

Focus On What Brings You Joy

Do you want to lay in bed all day reading? Do it. Or maybe, taking a drive and singing at the top of your lungs is more your jam. Whatever it is that brings you joy, do it. If you’ve been holding off on trying something new because there was never the right time? Well, now is that time.

I’m not saying you can totally ditch every responsibility in your life. After all, the littles need wrangling from time to time, but if you are already struggling, don’t add more to your plate. Engage in things that bring you pleasure. Everything else is for the birds. If you’re finding things that used to bring you enjoyment, don’t anymore, there may be something more than pandemic blues you’re dealing with.

Consult With Your Doctor

Lingering, long-term, overwhelming feelings of the pandemic blues are a symptom of some underlying issues. If you suspect that’s the case or have been in a funk you just can’t shake, communicate that to your doctor. If you’re able, try and jot down when you notice you’re feeling down and out. It’s helpful for your provider to find the right treatment plan for you when they know what you’ve been feeling and for how long. There is nothing wrong with seeking extra support for as long as you need it.

The pandemic changed everything about life as we knew it. Whether it was big or small, we’ve all experienced some level of trauma over the past year and a half. Over the last two years, just about everything has been turned upside down, and while there is no right or wrong way to muddle through it, know that you don’t have to do it alone.