Harvard Business Review recently conducted a study about burnout during COVID-19 and how greatly people all over the world have been affected by it.

Burned match stick photoshopped on a working person's body

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Out of 1,500 people, “89% said their work life was getting worse” since the pandemic started, and “56% said their job demands had increased.”

This inspired us to ask the BuzzFeed Community about their own burnout experiences during the pandemic. Here are their eye-opening stories.

Warning: Some submissions include topics of verbal assault, workplace abuse, and racial bullying — read at your own discretion.


“In March 2020, I caught COVID-19, and the company I work for decided to start working from home indefinitely for all employees. By June 2020, we laid off employees and I had to take on the roles of three laid-off employees on top of my current role. In September 2020, we made the decision to end our office lease (since working from home appeared to be the new normal) — I was the only one with the ability to drive my car into the office, so I had to pack up a 30-person office alone.”

Construction workers sitting down on a site, unemployed because of COVID-19

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“Last week, we laid off two more employees and I had to take over their responsibilities as well. On top of dealing with my year-long COVID sickness and all of the stress, anxiety, and emotions that come with it, I’m juggling five job roles and whatever I have left outside of my work life. I’m past burnout — I’m a charred, dried-out chicken cutlet left in the skillet overnight.”



“I work at a hospital as a supervisor over registration and bed control. When COVID hit, all of the extra registration responsibilities associated with it fell on my department, like registering employees for COVID tests and placing COVID patients into beds. All the help that’s come in has been for clinical staff, which of course is much needed, but nobody thinks about us. Our workload just keeps growing and I have to stretch my work hours and my staff thinner and thinner with no help, as we’re on a hiring freeze.”

Doctor giving a patient a COVID test

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“My hours are endless. At this point, people in my department are dropping like flies, we’ve lost two other supervisors already, and I’m wondering if I can handle it anymore. My only hope is that the numbers are going down, so there is an end on the horizon.”



“I’m an Amazon delivery driver — when COVID-19 first hit, my workload somewhat increased, but was manageable. But since October 2020, I’ve been getting double the amount of work or more, and I’m expected to do 10-hour shifts in six hours. Mind you, I don’t get any breaks or lunch, so I’m always pretty much running to each stop for six to seven hours. I come home all sore and just eat and sleep, and on my days off, I’m too exhausted to do anything.”

Delivery man dropping a package off at someone's house

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“As a teacher, this has been a year like no other. I am grateful to still have a job, but the expectations that have been placed on us are as though people have forgotten we are humans and we have a breaking point, too. Between the stress of the high-risk exposure at school to the high expectations for both online and in-person learning, the demands from parents and guardians are just too much. More expectations are continually added with little prep time given, and little to no consideration for the stress this adds onto us.”

A teacher sitting on top of a desk, wearing a mask, and talking to his students

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“I have never cried more from being overwhelmed and utterly exhausted in the whole of my last 10 years of teaching than I have this year.”



“I am a registered nurse, and in the past nine months, we’ve had COVID patients on our floor. Some days we’re running a patient straight to the ICU across the hall, hoping they don’t die before we can intubate them. I have worked so many shifts and have been so tired. I have held too many patients’ hands while they died alone. Some days I would just get home and cry in the shower for an hour.”

Doctor/nurse wearing mask in hospital, overworked, leaning against glass window during covid

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“The feeling of hopelessness you get while watching people die in front of you is nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Though I am glad to have such a caring and supportive team, I did have to reach out to some mental health resources, as it was hard to cope after my shifts. We’re also burned out from people on social media who are anti-vaccine and anti-mask because we’ve seen too many people die firsthand. We just want to protect people and end this pandemic. I’m trying to help every patient the best I can.”



“My husband and I had our first child in June 2020. There were no visitors allowed at the hospital, so we announced the birth of our son through calls and text messages. There was no one to help us once we got home, no one to bring us dinner, and no one to help us clean up — everyone was afraid of transmitting something to us or our baby, so our close community of friends and family started to disappear. When my maternity leave was over, my 4-month-old son and I had to figure out how to make it work since I was able to work from home.”

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“It was hard having that pressure on myself to keep up with a 10-hour-a-day job while having a baby who needed me every single second. I felt burnout from my son, burnout from my job, and a little rage toward my husband that he got to leave the house and work outside around people. Our son is in daycare three days a week now, which helps, but the heavy burnout feeling still creeps up sometimes.”



“I’m an occupational psychologist — there have been numerous moves between working from home and working in the office, so it has been difficult for my team to adjust accordingly. The final move back to the office felt like pure chaos because case numbers continued to increase, and everyone was experiencing anxiety related to potential exposure. As a psychologist supporting these employees, it was harder than I thought it’d be — we were trying to balance our own fears and anxiety while supporting others.”

A man and a woman having therapy virtually

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“Burnout came quickly and it honestly hasn’t stopped. I’m constantly exhausted, some days I don’t want to engage in sessions, and I often feel helpless in supporting others. Recently I took one week of annual leave and it was a huge relief, but I already feel like I’m experiencing burnout again after being back for only two days. That’s the nature of this pandemic — the stress is chronic, and that’s exactly what leads to burnout.”



“I was on the remodel team for Walmart before my position was cut due to COVID. During this pandemic, associates have taken more time off, hours have been cut, and morale has hit an all-time low. There were so many days when I worked overtime to help stores clear out their backrooms because freight was piling up. Then, I had to deal with customers yelling and cursing at me because our stores started closing early, and wearing masks inside the store became mandatory.”

A Walmart employee wearing a face mask and face shield while stocking items in a cabinet

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“I’ve never been called racial slurs more times in my life — there were days when I just sat in my car crying after clocking out.”



“I work in a funeral home and crematorium, and sometimes it feels like the work just never ends. Winter is already known to have high death rates, but between that and COVID, we have gone weeks at a time running our crematory non-stop while still being totally out of space to shelter our decedents. Everyone is constantly exhausted and the weekends are never enough time to recover, so we’re all just worn out and over it.”

Two people carrying a casket in a funeral home while wearing masks

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“I probably have it easier than other essential workers, but I gotta say, it’s harder working for a grocery store than people realize. Customers have such little respect for us — they refuse to wear a mask, they don’t want to wait in line, and they throw a fit when we’re out of something. It just never feels safe. In a way, I’m grateful my routine didn’t change since the pandemic started, but it was already easy to crave a vacation.”

A grocery store employee working during COVID, standing behind a plastic wall while wearing a mask

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“Now add on a million other elements that make you feel exhausted at the end of a week, and you don’t get time off. What I would give to have a long weekend, or even work from home in my sweats…I’m exhausted.”



“Burnout is very real in the lives of the healthcare workers who aren’t working in the COVID units. Our management was working from home while making major changes, so it felt like we were left on our own without feeling seen or appreciated. Working with a fragile population of humans requires a good work and life balance, and COVID completely took that away.”

A doctor with deep scars on his face from the surgical goggles

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“At first being at home was fun because there was motivation to do some home improvement projects, but I found that my life turned into this sad loop of work, sleep, laying on the couch, having no motivation to do anything, repeat. It’s been hard to pull myself out of this depressive slump, but I feel hopeful that as more people are vaccinated, we can go back to life the way it was before.”



“I work as an emergency manager, and the demand for our career field has been far too much this year. Many of us are salaried with no option for overtime, and on top of the pandemic, we’ve had to manage all other emergencies this year. Civil unrest, hurricanes, tornados, winter storms, and IT system hackers. Our organizations are stretched too thin to recognize the systematic burnout, so we are all just slowly dying together with no end in sight.”

A team leader in a suit, crossing hands behind their back

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“We don’t get to use our vacation time and don’t even have time to manage our personal lives. We have to put the job and community first, and many people have left the career field, retired early, and have lost marriages and relationships because of the job demand this year.”



“Parenting is hard right now. Keeping a 3-year-old entertained and safe all day is exhausting on its own, but try to do a day’s work at the same time and it’s almost impossible. I find myself wanting to quit my job because I can’t do it all, but I love my job and I worked hard to get there, and I’d be unhappy as a stay-at-home parent (plus I can’t afford it).”

Illustration of kids being wild while a mother is trying to work

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“I love my daughter, but if I’m being honest, I’d like a break from being a parent for a week or even a few hours — but we’re not allowed to even have family babysit, so the responsibility is 24/7 and I’m finding it relentless.”



“I work in broadcast news, and have been working in-person in the newsroom during the entire pandemic — I’m *exhausted.* Our phones were ringing off the hook in the beginning from viewers, yelling at us for answers we didn’t have. The guidelines from the state were changing every hour, and it was nearly impossible to keep up. I didn’t sleep all the way through the night for months — I’d wake up in a blind panic. Most of our station is working from home, which creates extra work for those of us still in the office.”

A pile of newspaper clippings that read "Virsus" "Crisis" "Quarantine"

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“There’s very little support from upper management. I’m numb to it all, and most of my friends who have been WFH all this time just can’t relate. Thank god for my partner who keeps me grounded.”



“My whole company transitioned to working from home at the start of the pandemic. People made it clear that I had to be available for video meetings from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. without respecting any kind of boundaries like I’d normally have in the office. I live alone in a small apartment, so they were making my entire home feel like my workplace where they can barge in at any point. I was jumping at every ping on Teams, then a close family member died, and I was told I’d ‘get over it faster’ because I was several hundred miles away.”

Woman sitting tiredly behind her computer

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“Because I was on the other end of the camera, my boss didn’t have to pretend I was a real human being. I know my bosses don’t think mental health conditions are valid disabilities, so they don’t care about making any adaptations for my mental state.”



“Pharmacy staff have been forgotten about this year. We were on the frontlines of the medication shortages that began last year, and in many places, we had to restrict everyone to a certain quantity of meds to help ease the strain on suppliers. We got yelled at, spat at, and racial slurs were thrown at us (especially to my Asian co-workers). We didn’t receive any sort of physical barriers until the fall of 2020. We have people who were exposed to COVID-19 come into our pharmacies for medical attention because they’re scared to go to the hospital.”

Pharmacist working during COVID - wearing a mask while working behind a plastic protected shield

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“We’ve been testing people for COVID since last summer, and we’re about to be vaccinating people as well. On top of all the other pharmacy jobs, we’ve been burned out since April 2020. Thank your pharmacy staff the next time you see them, please.”



“I work in a university doing reception and admin, and the pandemic has made my job utterly horrendous and destroyed my mental health. The amount of abuse we get from parents ringing up to complain that their child isn’t getting ‘what they pay for’ is a LOT to cope with, and we have no support from management whatsoever (despite repeatedly asking for advice and information). I’m screamed at by someone’s dad nearly every day, and have been since last year. I’ve also been threatened with physical violence, and have been repeatedly called stupid or accused of being purposely difficult.”

Close-up of a woman typing on her laptop

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“I understand students are having a difficult time, but please don’t take it out on the staff who are literally risking their health to help them as best they can. We don’t make decisions about teaching or facilities, and we can’t speak to parents because of confidentiality clauses most of the time. Most of the students don’t appreciate the work we’re trying to do either — we hate this pandemic as much as you do!”



And “I’m an essential employee and during the first few weeks of lockdown we got extra pay from the company and customers were extra generous. After a year in, pay is now gone, and people keep quitting because they don’t want to risk being exposed. Being overworked and underpaid isn’t new for me, but the pandemic has obviously made things harder. I feel like essential employees went through our own type of isolation — half the world is making whipped coffee and sourdough bread, while the rest of us are still working.”

Essential workers being applauded by civilians for their hard work during the pandemic

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“To those who’ve said, ‘Well, at least you’re still working’ to an essential employee, next time just say: ‘Thank you for working’ because some of us don’t have a choice.”


Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness is 1-888-950-6264 (NAMI) and provides information and referral services; GoodTherapy.org is an association of mental health professionals from more than 25 countries who support efforts to reduce harm in therapy.


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