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  • Writer's pictureKaren McPhail, RN, BSN, MSN, CCM, CDP

What IS Resilience Fatigue and How to Break the Cycle!

The Covid 19 Pandemic has changed many things, taking a toll on many both physically and emotionally. Everyone has been effected in some manner over the past 2 years resulting in the broad development of Resilience Fatigue. Resilience Fatigue is the exhaustion that comes after a prolonged period of attempting to cope, manage stress, stay motivated, strong, and positive. Resilience however is not about being forced to stay motivated and positive as many individuals feel when talking about the topic. Resilience is allowing ones self to fully feel, experience, and process emotions. That being said at times we need to experience the full range of emotions, good and bad, highs and lows in order to effectively pick up the pieces and more forward functionally and productively again.

Resilience Fatigue needs to be understood and acknowledged as there are some significant effects and consequences on individuals and society at large. With Resilience Fatigue:

  • People become less positive, less connected with their peers and their own emotions - ultimately, less engaged and productive.

  • A push for resilience when this feeling sets in typically generates resentment and has the opposite effect of what is expected or wanted.

  • Resilience Fatigue is thought to be contributory factor to the outward anger displayed, conflict often seen on social media, and protests we have observed at times breaking out across the country.

  • Widespread anxiety and increasing mental health challenges are also thought to be a resulting factor.

When we repress and do not fully acknowledge, release, and experience our emotions, the emotions build up over time and turn into manifestations of hopelessness and resilience fatigue which lead to anxiety, exhaustion, anger, projection, blaming behaviors, tension, sleep disturbances, holistic health challenges, and an overall loss of empathy.

So how does one get past Resilience Fatigue?

  • Focus on what you can do not what potentially the virus could do to you or what could happen in the future!

  • Take control back - Try asking yourself, “what is my next move?” rather than “what will be the next variant? Dismiss anxiety over - BA.2 variant, next spike, and potential 4th booster need!

  • Show empathy for yourself and others - acknowledge the individual hardships, loss, and trauma that everyone has experienced during the pandemic.

  • Ask for help when needed and help others!

  • Create real human connection rather than virtual or by putting up barriers to others and to the outside.

  • Avoid negative outlets leading to ineffective coping such as social media.

  • Take note of the positives around you each day!

  • Give priority to quality over quantity and look for opportunities for self discovery rather than obstacles - try something new!

  • Allow yourself acknowledge feelings and grieve your losses - to then be able to move forward.

  • Covid has been a world wide challenge and has created dysfunctional patterns for many! However, commonality is key as when we feel alone and isolated in our suffering every negative emotion is intensified, thus making one more likely to experience anxiety, depression and other negative health consequences.

  • Coping, managing stress and anxiety is critical as stress increases inflammation in the body, which can make us more prone to illness and contribute to other chronic conditions.

Establish some new patterns to assist getting past Resilience Fatigue:

  • Establish Routine stress reduction and breathing techniques

  • Practice Mindfulness and Meditation

  • Explore Visual Imagery

  • Practice self care and support / develop holistic health habits

  • Support consistency for long term benefits!

  • Recognize that everyones path is different - find your fit!

Effective breathing may sound strange or simple, but is important in managing stress and anxiety. Why is it Important to consider and learn to control breathing to limit and manage anxiety?

  • Anxiety and Panic attacks are common for those with stress!

  • Controlling breathing will decrease symptoms and anxiety.

  • Hyperventilation often becomes a vicious cycle that leads to more anxiety, fear, and eventually dizziness and light headedness - and more anxiety!

4 Simple Breathing Steps for Anxiety and Panic Attacks:

  • Close your eyes to take away outside stimulation

  • Focus on slow deep lower abdominal breathing rather than fast shallow breathing.

  • Have a mantra to say in your mind as you inhale and then exhale such as I am happy, I am peaceful, I am safe, I am grounded, I am balanced.

  • Slowly gain control over your breathing by focusing on each breath and your mantra. Develop a slow rhythm with breathing.

This is also a great way to just reduce stress periodically throughout the day and as a preventative measure!

Some other Considerations Along the Way:

  • Music and aroma therapy can also be of benefit - creates calmness and elevates mood.

  • Lavender is a natural calming agent to ease stress and panic attack triggers.

  • How does one get past Resilience Fatigue? ation or meditation can be helpful - can be played when you are having a tough day or even panic attack symptoms and your mind will be trained, conditioned over time to sense the music and respond with a calming response.

  • Music can also help to de-stress and be used as a method to shield one from potentially anxiety producing situations.

  • Always have a set of headphones on hand so they can be used if needed while out and about.

  • Decreasing external stimulation can also help to relax and clear mind. It is challenging for many to get back into normal patterns after covid isolation.

  • One may want to take a break and close their eyes if beginning to feel over stimulated or feeling trigged for anxiety. Take time for you as a few moments can make the difference.

  • Decreasing external stimuli will help one to focus on their breathing and other techniques to then decrease and ease symptoms.

  • Avoid mindlessly scrolling on social media as this can again lead to and create more anxiety. Avoid also being over stimulated - take time to unplug, decompress and release stress in the evening.

  • Take time with assistance if needed to get organized and eliminate clutter as clutter can lead to anxiety and a sense of being out of control. Emotional clutter is a vicious cycle which leads to stress, anxiety, lack of focus, frustration, the inability to make clear decisions and has health implications!

  • Have a plan for each day - creating some structure and order in ones life helps one to focus on what they have control over.

  • Keep in contact with important friends and family - talking about meaningful things and not just “likes” online is helpful.

  • Avoid online chat rooms as can create anxiety and even lead to dysfunctional or predatory contacts.

  • Set goals each day that allow a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction.

  • Take time to eat a well balanced diet and hydrate well!

  • Take time to stretch and exercise each day even briefly!

  • Set realistic expectations for yourself - be flexible and open! Set your own pace!

  • Take one step at time - avoid problems piling up!

  • Try to get adequate rest- as there are ways to do this even under stress!

  • Take time out for you each day for self care - even a few minutes of breathing alone can help!

Gaining control is key, so take time to find what works best for you! Change is possible by embracing potentially some new functional and healthy habits. This can be done even with daily time constraints if one sets this intention!


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