The Atlantic Daily: It’s Okay to Feel Burned Out

Our lives are different now. One year in, you might’ve picked up some weird pandemic habits, or maybe you’re just battling chronic burnout. It’s all okay.

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The pandemic has made our lives strange, small, and stressful. No wonder so many of us feel like we have “spent the past year being pushed through a pasta extruder,” as my colleague Ellen Cushing memorably put it.

If you find yourself out of sorts these days, know that you aren’t the only one.

1. It’s okay to feel burned out.

“The mental pressure of living through a mass-casualty event would be enough to fry the most Zen of brains,” our staff writer Olga Khazan reminds us. Burnout, experts told her, is best addressed in the workplace. It’s really on your boss to fix it.

2. It’s okay to eat whenever you feel like it.

“Splintering the three-meals-a-day norm might at first feel unnatural, but in the long arc of human history, that eating schedule is both extremely recent and born almost entirely of social convenience,” Amanda Mull explains in her piece on why your weird pandemic eating habits are probably fine.

3. It’s okay to forget things.

“We’re all walking around with some mild cognitive impairment,” one neuroscientist told our special-projects editor Ellen Cushing. “This is the fog of late pandemic, and it is brutal,” Ellen writes.

4. It’s okay to be a little vain.

Americans are quietly doing their crunches. That includes our associate editor Saahil Desai, who picked up his workout pace last month in anticipation of being able to gather again soon. “I sure as hell want to look good when we do,” he writes.

One question, answered: A reader named Stacy from San Francisco says her seventh-grade daughter’s perfectionism has gotten worse during the pandemic.

Abby Freireich and Brian Platzer respond in our latest “Homeroom” column:

We are sorry to hear that Laura is putting so much pressure on herself. The pandemic has upended life for kids, and Laura, like many students, is trying to find solid ground amid the upheaval. That’s where her tendency to throw herself into her studies likely comes from, a reflection of her desire to control one of the few parts of her life over which she has any say.

Keep reading. Every Tuesday, Abby and Brian take questions from readers about their kids’ education. Have one? Email them at

Tonight’s Atlantic-approved isolation activity:

Take a break for fiction: Read Paul Yoon’s “Person of Korea,” a new short story about an abandoned boy searching for his father. Then, read our Q&A with the author.

What to read if … you’d like to read about something—anything—other than the pandemic:

Why is it so hard to get a new pair of glasses in the United States? (Warning: This piece, from 2019, may make you, ahem, see things differently.)