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Am I struggling from Quarantine Fatique?

By Erika LaCaruba, Mental Health Counselor with JCAC

Quarantine Fatigue and How We Can Help

You may have heard the term quarantine fatigue floating around the Internet lately and been curious about what exactly this term means. You may not have the definition, but you have probably felt the weight of maintaining quarantine or social distancing.

Since the quarantine began have you or your kids said the following:

I’m bored!"

I want to go to **insert crowded public place surrounded by other people here**

When can we go back to school/work

I’m tired **even though they haven’t been up for more than 4 hours**

I don’t want to go outside/for a walk/do a home workout

We don’t have any good snacks. I know I just ate 45 minutes ago but I’m hungry again!

"Quarantine fatigue is a mental health reaction to something that is out of our control."

It includes the following symptoms:

Changes in eating patterns

Sleeping Less/More

Unmotivated or less productive

Stressed easily

Irritable- or on edge

If any of those phrases sound familiar, you or your family may be experiencing what’s being referred to as quarantine fatigue.

"Something outside of our control is influencing how we view ourselves and measure ourselves in terms of our productivity, patience level with our work, kids and spouses, as well as our goals and expectations."

That Sounds Like My Family, Now What?

There is a lot to explain, stick with me. It will come together in the end. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is how I like to explain to my clients why they should give themselves and their family members some grace during the quarantine. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a five stage motivational theory in psychology encompassing human needs, with basic human needs at the bottom, leading upwards to self-fulfillment needs at the very top.

1) This means that the things that humans need to survive like air, food, water, warmth, and rest are the first and most important motivators of behavior at the bottom of the pyramid. During the quarantine period there’s been a lack of health, sleep, and food for many people. There’s also been anxiety that although we may not be lacking right now in these things, we very easily could be. This disrupts the primary motivators for humans to remain calm, enabling negative thoughts to creep in and take up space in our minds.

2) The next level up includes safety needs like personal security, employment, health, and property. Given that so many people have lost their jobs and sense of personal security, it’s understandable that it would be difficult to keep moving up the pyramid. Not only our current state of personal security, but also fears regarding future health and employment may be creating anxiety.

3) The third level up includes friendship, intimacy, and an overall sense of connection. Without being able to see friends or family, attend schools or religious functions, or even create new friendships from strangers, many adults and kids especially may feel a sense of unease about their current situations.

4) The fourth level of five includes self-esteem, strength, freedom, and status. Seeing as the overall social status of many has shifted, as well as severe personal freedom restrictions being put in place, it may become a challenge for most people to obtain and maintain a sense of freedom and strength through an unpredictable period.

5) The peak to be reached in Maslow’s theory is self-actualization, which includes the desire to be the very best you can be through creative activities, productivity, and accomplishing goals. This is the very last stage in Maslow’s model, and the most difficult to reach during emotional hardship. This also extends to those of us working from home and being held to the same level of productivity and creativity regardless of outside circumstances. This theory justifies why it’s been so challenging for so many people to function at a higher level, or even their previous level of functioning.

Using this theory to explain motivation, it’s no wonder that most of us are having a tough time reaching our peak potential, given our basic needs of safety and human connection aren’t being met consistently. Although many of us may not be familiar with this model, our behavior sure does speak to it. Seeking out extra food, extra sleep, extra connection with friends online, or an overall sense of impatience with restrictions and a lack of routine structure are how we outwardly show that we’re lacking in some basic area of psychological motivation.

"Operating from an emotional deficit doesn’t allow for personal or professional growth – during the quarantine or not."

Although many of us may have more time on our hands to be present at home with our loved ones, if we don’t feel that our basic needs are being met psychologically, we won’t be able to become the best versions of ourselves, or at the very least reduce anxiety and stress levels during this unpredictable time. This is where therapy can come into play for not only individuals, but also for families. Through working with a therapist, psychological needs can begin to be realized, reframed, and met, allowing families to function with peace and emotional security. Allowing for families to work together in therapy to return to a more predictable and healthy state can reduce quarantine fatigue and improve overall family communication.

"Quarantine fatigue may have been a factor in your household thus far, but there’s no reason to let it continue now that you’re armed with knowledge about how to create your own roadmap to calm and personal success."

Erika LaCaruba is a Mental Health Counselor with JCAC. She specializes in play therapy with children, offering ABA services to children with disabilities, working with adolescents, parent support/education, and adult individual psychotherapy.

To Schedule a time to talk with Erika Click Here

To Learn more about play therapy Click Here

To Learn more about Individual PsychoTherapy Click Here

To Download a free copy of the E-Book Series “Finding Calm in the Storm” Click Here


Johns Creek and Alpharetta Counseling (#JCAC) is a warm and family orientated counseling practice in Alpharetta, Ga. We offer online counseling services in the states of Georgia and Florida. We offer in-office counseling service at our Alpharetta office which is conveniently located to serve Johns Creek, Milton, Roswell, and Cumming, Ga.

The JCAC Counselors specialize in counseling services throughout the lifespan! We offer play therapy, counseling for children, parental support, adolescent counseling, mental health services, couples counseling, premarital therapy, and individual counseling for adults.

To learn more about our practice, click here!

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