It has almost been a year since the pandemic took our lives as we knew them and transformed daily living. The year of 2020 has shown humanity how much we take for granted. Little things such as visiting family, eating at a favorite restaurant or just seeing friends smile were stripped from us. Many people have also lost loved ones and dealt with emotional pain as well as physical due to the virus

On Dec. 31, many thought that the new year would replenish everything we had lost and that everything would go back to normal. However, Covid-19 is still as real as it was before, and although there is a vaccine, it still isn’t open to all the public. Although the restrictions have been reduced, abiding by regulations is just as important as before.

“Personally, it has been a great year, but it has also been majorly negatively affected through covid,” junior Hannah Leatzow said.“For my dancing, we couldn’t do half of the things we could do before covid and our recital is probably going to be virtual.” 

Due to the fact that it might be a while until everything resembles any kind of normal, people are feeling defeated. The mental health of the public has reached an all time low, and the uncertainty of what the future holds has driven people to hit a “Pandemic Wall.”

The “Pandemic Wall” is a term made famous by New York Public Radio host Tanzina Vega, describing how people have felt physical, mental and emotional exhaustion due to the pandemic. Pandemic burnout symptoms can include fatigue, lack of motivation, high levels of anxiety and overall mental and emotional distress. 

“I think that personally if I was at school wearing a mask for that long would make me more tired than I am, but sitting in front of a computer all day has given me headaches,” sophomore Tovah Levenson said. “I think that I have been slower when doing homework because my motivation has gone down a little because of being at home almost 24/7. It does get tiring but is worth it to keep my family safe.”

Parents and children have suffered more mental health concerns since the start of the pandemic. Since March 2020, 27 percent of parents reported deteriorating mental health, and 14 percent reported declining behavioral health for their children. 31 percent of adults have also experienced symptoms of anxiety and depression.

“The Pandemic Wall is definitely a real thing, especially considering we are coming up on our one year anniversary of quarantine. COVID-19 has brought with it not only grave illness and loss but immeasurable stressors,” upper school guidance counselor Tammy Eubanks said. “Essentially we are in a constant ‘fight or flight’ scenario and our store of adrenaline is gone. Feeling emotionally worn-out is completely normal.” 

Although in Florida our laws and rules concerning the pandemic aren’t as strict as other states, it is still easy to feel stuck or trapped. We are lucky to have the opportunity to do in-person school, but many things we usually experience have been depleted or altered. 

Sometimes attending events can also be uncomfortable or stressful due to health concerns. 

Trying to keep up with a ‘normal’ pre-Covid life is truly trying to attain an unrealistic goal and that is okay. Being exhausted or underwhelmed in general is completely normal. Remember, this is a global pandemic, and it is okay to feel overwhelmed with adversity.

“This being my senior year I was extremely disappointed that I was not able to come back to school this year. I haven’t really gotten a chance to see my friends since March 2020,” senior Annika Dean said. “Nevertheless, I was very lucky that I was able to play high school golf during this pandemic and thanks to social media I’ve been able to talk to my friends quite often.”

Although it is normal to reach your Pandemic Wall, it does not mean you have to stay there. There are multiple ways of addressing how you feel instead of ignoring it. By recognizing your emotions and working towards addressing the main areas of stress through healthy coping mechanisms, such as exercising or making time to relax each day, some of these feelings of burnout, exhaustion and anxiety may be reduced. Additionally, consider talking to someone, such as a guidance counselor, and never feel ashamed about what you are experiencing, especially since many of us are having the same feelings and struggles. 

“Go easy on yourself! Be kind to yourself! Secondly, identify things that are stressing you out the most and make a plan to address them,” Eubanks said. “Mental health professionals can help you with techniques that work for you! Don’t assume that what works for someone else will work for you.”

The best way to grow in a situation that is so mentally exhausting is to do things that bring joy, along with continuing to grow and trying new things. It may feel as though all life has come to a standstill, but remember, this pandemic is ultimately out of our control. What we can do is stay positive while respecting guidelines and restrictions. We are all in this together.

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