UNITED STATES—While the topic has been increasing in popularity over the course of decades, mental health issues certainly came to a head in 2020 with the COVID crisis. Suddenly isolated from social support and suffering from other concerns like interminable joblessness and housing insecurity, many around the world have succumbed to varying degrees of psychological distress — and mental disorders developed during the pandemic are unlikely to disappear even with the introduction of vaccines.

Unfortunately, for many, the pandemic’s psychological effects have resulted less in feelings of anxiety or depression and more in dismissal of the dangers of the virus itself. Desperate for social contact, more and more people are flouting recommendations and venturing into close contact with others, potentially increasing COVID’s spread even as the end of the pandemic is in sight. Experts have labeled this mental disorder “pandemic fatigue,” — and here are some signs that you might be suffering from it.

You Keep Forgetting Your Mask

If you are a forgetful person who is always running back inside for your keys, wallet and jacket, this symptom might not apply to you. However, if you are usually quite diligent about preparing before you depart, a persistent lack of mask might mean that you are subconsciously growing sick of caring about COVID.

Unfortunately, though vaccination rates are remarkably high, experts predict that Americans will need to continue masking up for at least another year. You should keep spare masks in your car, backpack and purse as a precaution against carelessly leaving your mask behind. Even if you are in the throes of pandemic fatigue, you should try to keep those around you safe.

You Meet up With Friends and Family

Most people accepted social distancing mandates when they were projected to last just two weeks. Most people also accepted the need to quarantine for a couple months more. However, after a full year of near-complete isolation, few are still committed to separating themselves completely from friends and family.

Experts advocate keeping your social bubble small, to fewer than eight people. If you are ignoring these recommendations and meeting up with anyone and everyone, you are probably suffering from pandemic fatigue. If you are compelled to gather with friends and family outside your bubble, you should do so with caution — which means wearing a mask, assembling outside and maintaining a physical distance of at least six feet.

You Are Physically Exhausted (for No Good Reason)

Pandemic fatigue is an offshoot of a more common mental disorder called burnout. Burnout is increasing in prevalence, especially in the U.S., thanks to imbalanced workloads and unhealthy corporate cultures that press workers to give more and more physical, mental and emotional labor. When this happens, the stress hormone cortisol builds up, resulting in physical symptoms like exhaustion.

You might be feeling tired because of an aggressive exercise regimen or an abundance of physical labor around the house. However, if you don’t have a reason to experience physical fatigue, it might be the result of burnout related to the pandemic. If this is the case, you should try to find a way to relieve your stress, which might include taking up a new hobby, spending time in the sunlight or otherwise giving yourself me-time.

You Get Upset About Insignificant Things

There are all sorts of irritants in everyday life, like a sink full of dirty dishes or a fly that won’t stop buzzing near your ear. However, most people don’t get too upset about such minor issues — unless they are suffering from unreasonable stress in other aspects of their lives. If you do notice yourself picking fights with loved ones over relatively insignificant issues, you might need to reflect on how your attitude might be impacted by your current social circumstances. Again, instead of taking your pandemic-related frustrations out on those around you, you should try to reduce stress levels with your self-care of choice.

You Are Consuming More

For many, the pandemic has provided ample free time — which isn’t nearly as enjoyable as many people expected. While occasional free time can be used for home projects or hobbies, too much free time can feel oppressive and overwhelming, leading many to over-indulge in consumption that is less-than-good for mental and physical health. You might look for some of the following overconsumption habits in your life:

  • Alcohol. Jokes about pandemic-related drinking aside, using alcohol as a crutch to assuage anxiety can quickly devolve into a serious substance abuse issue.
  • Food. Comfort foods are rarely the healthiest eating options, and binging behaviors can have lasting negative ramifications on mental and physical wellness.
  • Shopping. In addition to mental, emotional and behavioral ramifications, compulsive shopping is also financially devastating, which can be dangerous in a time of economic upheaval.
  • Other substances. Reports across the country are showing an increase in illicit drug use during the COVID crisis, which is leading to an uptick in overdoses and related deaths.

Overconsumption of any substance or behavior can have enduring effects. If you suspect that you might have some kind of abuse disorder or compulsive consumption, you should seek online therapy in California or your state of residence.

Burnout is bad at the best of times, but as long as COVID-19 ravages the world population, it is important to keep one’s mental and emotional health in check. Pandemic fatigue isn’t something to be ignored; if you are suffering from any of the above symptoms, you should take steps to find greater comfort in your situation.