Is Moral Fatigue Affecting Your Mood? – Here’s Why

As human beings, most of us have an innate sense of what’s right and wrong. Beyond that, most people try to do the right thing. It makes us feel good, proud, and accomplished. 

When the right thing becomes unclear, what should you do? When a certain situation is peppered with a dozen “what ifs,” you might scramble to take actions that line up with your moral identity. 

This often leads to moral fatigue. 

Moral fatigue occurs when it feels as though every decision you make is extremely heavy, and perhaps even a matter of safety or life and death. 

It has been a term often used to describe healthcare workers and the challenges they face each day. But, because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the political climate of our nation, moral fatigue has become more of an everyday term that can affect anyone. 

So why is it affecting your mood? 

The Uncertainty of Everyday Life

You can probably think back on a time when things seemed simpler. Decisions made in your life probably depended on things like your schedule, your budget, or even your desire to do/not to do something. 

Today, not everyone has that luxury. 

Something as simple as going to the store can cause you to question everything. Who you voted for in the election can also cause you to question yourself and others. It might often feel like no matter what you do, it’s a no-win situation. 

That creates a constant moral dilemma, and it can be exhausting. 

The stress caused by moral fatigue can lead to a variety of health issues that are mostly fueled by stress. You could experience things like: 

  • Avoidance
  • Irritability
  • Impatience

You might also see differences in your relationships with friends and family, or even your productivity at work. Of course, moral fatigue can also make you feel tired. Feeling as though every decision you make could easily be the wrong one and have serious consequences is exhausting for anyone. 

That exhaustion can also affect your mood. It may even lead to feelings of anxiety or depression, which can exacerbate some symptoms you’re already having. 

How Can You Manage Stress and Improve Moral Fatigue? 

It might seem impossible to get a handle on moral fatigue when everything is still so uncertain. Political unrest is still running high. The pandemic shows no signs of slowing down. 

So, what can you do to manage your fatigue and improve your mood? 

The most important thing is to recognize and accept what you’re feeling. There is no reason to “push through” and ignore your own fatigue because of the climate of the country. By acknowledging that you’re struggling, you can take the proper steps to help yourself. 

Once you have accepted what you’re dealing with, you can work on improving your mood by: 

  • Showing kindness and compassion to yourself.
  • Talking to people you trust about what you’re feeling in order to sort out some moral issues you might face daily. 
  • Pause and process the moral questions you’re facing each day. Don’t jump into immediate decisions that you might question later. 
  • Don’t second-guess yourself. After thinking things through, trust your gut and your “moral compass” to make the best decisions for you. 

It’s hard to feel anything but stress, anxiety, and even confusion during times like these. But it’s important to know that these strange times won’t last forever. If you’re having a hard time knowing what to do in the current climate of our country, you’re not alone. 

Thankfully, you don’t have to feel alone, either. Contact Integrative Psychotherapy Group for more information about moral fatigue and how to fight back against it to have more control over your own mood.