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The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on everyone over the past year and a half. Many students are experiencing “pandemic fatigue” as a result of constantly changing guidelines and now, Brock University’s return to campus. 

Pandemic fatigue can be defined as a state of frustration brought on by a long period of chronic stress. Common symptoms of pandemic fatigue include irritability, anxiousness, changes in sleeping habits and restlessness. 

For many, this has translated to a general disregard for recommended public health measures, which might partially explain how Canada has ended up in a fourth wave. This is especially concerning because Brock’s return to campus relies heavily on students following COVID-19 protocols both on campus and in the community. If students are no longer motivated to practice physical distancing, frequent handwashing, and wearing masks indoors, it puts Brock at risk of going completely virtual once again.

I’d say I have partially experienced this. I have definitely had days when it feels so exhausting to just adjust to the virtual platform and the transition gets overwhelming, but I have not found myself in a position yet where I felt like not taking the precautions seriously,” said Rani Hansalia, second-year communications student. “The reason is that I have witnessed some severe cases with my loved ones and that of course brings in more alertness and awareness on not taking it lightly just because it’s been around for over a year.”

On a similar note, students are experiencing a lack of motivation when it comes to academic responsibilities. Despite being only two weeks into the academic semester, some students are already experiencing burnout and are worried about navigating the rest of the term. Having spent over a year learning in solitude, many are struggling to readjust to the in-person environment.

Some days feel a lot longer than others and wearing a mask all day can be exhausting. Learning under this environment is new and can be challenging at times,” said Kashmira Parikh, third-year medical science student.

A study performed by Sunnybrook Hospital recommends the following coping strategies for those struggling:

– Maintain a regular schedule to help feel a sense of control. Be sure to include time for exercise and frequent breaks throughout the day.

– Acknowledge the validity of emotions like disappointment and loss. Seek to understand where these feelings stem from.

– Practice meaningful self-care. For example, outdoor walks, dancing, journaling, virtual socializing, etc.

– Reach out to friends, family, or a healthcare professional if you are in need of support.

Navigating a global pandemic is certainly not easy, and there is no specific formula for coping. While there is still a great deal of uncertainty about the future, Brock is committed to maintaining an in-person presence this year. As such, students are asked to continue observing public health guidelines to keep each other safe.

For anyone struggling with symptoms of pandemic fatigue or seeking support, Brock Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre (SWAC) offers free personal counselling services throughout the week, as well as 24/7 support for urgent matters. For more information on SWAC services, click here.