By EWI Contributor: Ally Jokl
Our behaviours have changed dramatically throughout the pandemic. We are working from home, videoconferencing, separated from our family and friends – the list is long. Life continues to change as COVID-19 slows with the vaccine rollout. The post-pandemic world will look different to before. Some people are hesitant to return to the office or plan social events. It is hard for the adult brain to handle the uncertainty as each day bring change.
Hundreds of factors come together to cause ‘pandemic fatigue’. We spoke with Luisa Torres, neuropsychologist and founder of Happiher, about pandemic fatigue and its effect on women entrepreneurs.
What is pandemic fatigue?
According to Luisa, pandemic fatigue is a mental fatigue from dealing with effects of the pandemic. People with pandemic fatigue struggle with a lack of motivation and may struggle to do normal day-to-day activities. It is not a diagnostic term but rather a description of the lack of motivation that people feel. Luisa explains, We need to be productive. We need to be motivated. We need to be in a good mood. However, we are under a mountain of pressure that the brain can’t navigate. It’s too much.” In short, Luisa explains pandemic fatigue as a feeling of demotivation that can lead to emotions from anxiety, loneliness, hopeless, to depression.
How does pandemic fatigue affect entrepreneurs?
Entrepreneurs face additional pandemic-related stresses. Small business owners wonder how their businesses will survive and recover. Most had to overhaul their businesses in the spring of 2020. Those who adapted to the current climate will have to alter operations again as restrictions decrease or life.
The pandemic demanded new entrepreneurial skills for survival. Entrepreneurs have to handle all aspects of running a business and this year they developed new skills like diversification, technology, and remote networking. The changes and decisions related to business amplify the effects of the pandemic on entrepreneurs.
How are women entrepreneurs affected?
The number one challenge women entrepreneurs report to Luisa is having to do everything alone. Many women micro- and small-business owners are solopreneurs. Women disproportionately bear unpaid care work. Care services like care for the elderly, sick, and childcare were limited during the pandemic. Many women entrepreneurs’ workload has increased both professionally and in the home.
Many moms have their children home for online school. After taking care of the kids all day, working at their job, keeping up with household responsibilities, and monitoring the COVID situation, women entrepreneurs with a side business have little to no mental energy left to dedicate to their businesses. They have less energy and higher levels of stress.
What are the signs of pandemic fatigue?
The Happiher Instagram page is an excellent place to learn more about pandemic fatigue, as well as other topics related to mental health and wellbeing. Loss of motivation is the biggest sign of pandemic fatigue, but other signs include feeling exhausted even when you sleep enough, a shortened temper, changes in diet, and feeling upset or frustrated often.
What can we do about pandemic fatigue?
The first step is becoming aware of pandemic fatigue and the symptoms. With pandemic fatigue, our brains are handling a lot right now. We should try to not judge ourselves for how we are feeling or our productivity levels. Over time we can grow our motivation and increased productivity. Luisa recommends setting goals and writing them down, as well as finding small things to celebrate in our lives to increase dopamine production in our brains. She shares more tips on the Happiher Instagram page.
Learning to tackle the lack of motivation from pandemic fatigue will help entrepreneurs long term. We are inundated with pandemic-related change right now, but entrepreneurs always face a certain level of change and uncertainty. Adaptability is crucial. The skills we learn to overcome pandemic fatigue can be applied anytime we suffer from mental fatigue in the future.