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The past two years have been emotionally exhausting for people all over the world. No one expected the pandemic that slammed countries globally in 2020, along with the whole slew of anxiety, depression, confusion, and changes that came along with it. Suddenly family and friends were torn away from each other, workplaces shifted to home, and spending time outdoors became a luxury. Considering how much these past two years have taxed individuals everywhere, it’s no wonder many people now suffer from what psychologist Amy Cuddy calls “pandemic flux syndrome.” Here’s what you need to know about pandemic flux syndrome: 

What is Pandemic Flux Syndrome? 

Pandemic flux syndrome is a blanket term for a variety of mental health symptoms caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Symptoms include feelings of detachment, increased anxiety and depression, and the urge to make drastic life changes. If these sound like problems you’re experiencing, you may have pandemic flux syndrome. 

What Exactly Causes Pandemic Flux Syndrome?

A few specific explanations are behind pandemic flux syndrome. First, constant shifts in good and bad news kept us experiencing repeated highs and lows throughout the pandemic: Vaccinations gave people hope, and it seemed things were improving. Then came the Delta variant. After the Delta variant came Omicron. And between all these variants came fluctuations in restrictions like mask-wearing and in-person gatherings. 

Another cause behind pandemic flux syndrome is “affective forecasting errors,” a term created by psychologists Dan Gilbert and Tim Wilson. The term “affective forecasting errors” refers to the human inability to judge future emotions accurately: People often overestimate or underestimate how they’ll feel during a certain situation. For example, some individuals expected reuniting with their loved ones would be a near-magical experience when in reality, it wasn’t as great as they hoped once it finally happened. Repeated disappointments around high expectations are a huge cause behind pandemic flux syndrome. 

Finally, fatigue from constant stress can cause pandemic flux syndrome. Our body has a “surge capacity” to help us deal with stress, but it’s only meant to keep us going for short time periods. Once we deplete our surge capacity, continued stress starts to affect us negatively. Our bodies are not meant to handle stress every hour, every day. 

A young woman suffers from anxious thoughts

How to Cope With Pandemic Flux Syndrome 

While pandemic flux syndrome can be overwhelming, it’s possible to battle this syndrome by actively working toward better mental health. Coping mechanisms and healthy habits are the friends of anyone suffering from detachment, anxiety, or depression. These tips can help those experiencing symptoms: 

Getting Enough Exercise 

When we exercise, our brains release chemicals that help us feel happy. It’s also a good way to distract ourselves from negative thoughts. Even ten minutes of exercise can have a positive effect on mental health, according to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America

Eating Well

A healthy body often means a healthy mind. It’s important not to skip any meals, as this causes blood sugar drops that lead to irritability and fatigue. Additionally, eating a diet full of healthy fats, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables is crucial for both physical and mental health. Avoiding sugary foods and caffeine can also improve health. 

Practicing Mindfulness Techniques 

Yoga and meditation help relax the body and mind. Yoga improves emotional stability and improves mood, while meditation relieves anxiety and stress. Apps are available to help practice both of these relaxation techniques. 

Maintaining a Stable Sleep Schedule 

A good night’s sleep goes hand-in-hand with a healthy mental state. When your body experiences stress, it will actually need more sleep. Making small changes in your schedule as needed to get yourself some extra shut-eye is important. 

The Bottom Line 

The pandemic has been hard on everyone around the world. It’s important to take care of ourselves and do our part to help others do the same. We’re ready to help those in the Los Angeles area stay safe, healthy, and stress-free. The Mobile COVID Testing team will travel to homes, workplaces, airports—anywhere we’re needed. Contact us today for fast and accurate test results!