PANDEMIC FATIGUE: Beyond Anxiety, Depression & Helplessness


[semester equivalent = 4.00 credits]



Brenda McKinney



According to the CDC, 27% of teachers reported symptoms of depression and anxiety during the pandemic, and the reports of teacher fatigue have been excessive. Although students have returned to the classroom, they continue to struggle, and educators feel overwhelmed with the workload and providing emotional support. 
This course will help you on the road to wellness and stability by providing you with an awareness of the anxiety habit loops that make you feel trapped. You will gain new tools to deal with stress, anxiety, worry, and mild depression. You will also learn how to plan for difficult days with research-based strategies that can improve your commitment and wellness. This is a solution-oriented course to help you regain your balance, so take that step, share with others, and increase your understanding of neuroscience on how to rewire your brain to access your sense of happiness while alleviating pandemic fatigue, anxiety, and stress. 

This course is appropriate for educators K-12.

LEARNING OUTCOMES: Upon completion of this course, participants will have:

  • Gained knowledge of generalized anxiety, depression, stress, and worry.
  • Developed an understanding of anxiety as a habit loop and a trigger for
    stressful automatic negative thoughts.
  • Learned how to map your habits to help break the cycles of worry and stress.
  • Explored tools of curiosity, mindfulness, breathing to help free your brain
    from constant anxiety and worry.
  • Learn how to employ RAIN as a strategy for dealing with good days and bad days.
  • Planned and implemented a strategic plan to set good habits.
  • Learned how to overcome your resistance to change.

Completion of all specified assignments is required for issuance of hours or credit. The Heritage Institute does not award partial credit.

The use of artificial intelligence is not permitted. Assignment responses found to be generated by AI will not be accepted.

Completing the basic assignments (Section A. Information Acquisition) for this course automatically earns participants their choice of CEUs (Continuing Education Units), Washington State Clock Hours, Oregon PDUs, or Pennsylvania ACT 48 Hours. The Heritage Institute offers CEUs and is an approved provider of Washington State Clock Hours, Oregon PDUs, and Pennsylvania ACT 48 Hours.



Continuing Education Quarter credits are awarded by Antioch University Seattle (AUS). AUS requires 75% or better for credit at the 400 level and 85% or better to issue credit at the 500 level. These criteria refer both to the amount and quality of work submitted.

  1. Completion of Information Acquisition assignments 30%
  2. Completion of Learning Application assignments 40%
  3. Completion of Integration Paper assignment 30%


CREDIT/NO CREDIT (No Letter Grades or Numeric Equivalents on Transcripts)
Antioch University Seattle (AUS) Continuing Education Quarter credit is offered on a Credit/No Credit basis; neither letter grades nor numeric equivalents are on a transcript. 400 level credit is equal to a "C" or better, 500 level credit is equal to a "B" or better. This information is on the back of the transcript.

AUS Continuing Education quarter credits may or may not be accepted into degree programs. Prior to registering, determine with your district personnel, department head, or state education office the acceptability of these credits for your purpose.



Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind.
2021. Avery Books.
Judson Brewer, MD PhD
ISBN:  978-0-593-33044-9
Used from $17 on Amazon

None. All reading is online.


No additional materials fee is required.



Assignments done in a course forum will show responses from all educators who have or are taking the course independently. Feel free to read and respond to others' comments. 
Group participants can only view and respond to their group members in the Forum. 

Assignment #1: Introduction

For those participating in Group Collaboration, you must read and follow the instructions outlined in the Group Collaboration Guidelines. Click on the link for Guidelines.

  • In Assignment #1, each participant must complete this assignment independently.
  • There should be a minimum of (4) four group meetings during which the course content is discussed. 
  • Teleconferences or live meetings are acceptable. A good videoconference option is Zoom (
  • Each participant must attend at least 75% of the group meetings (a minimum of 3 of 4 meetings).

Go to Flip Grid to introduce yourself, your professional situation, and your reasons for choosing this course. Share briefly about a positive you have learned during COVID and three areas of concern for you.  

After your introduction, please attach your Flip Grid link in the response box. 

Respond to three other educators.

Assignment #2: The Pandemic Brain

The pandemic disrupted our daily lives and subjected us to months of anxiety and uncertainty. We've all made changes to cope, and so have our bodies. The Pandemic Brain is your brain adapting to your new situation the best way it can. From trauma comes resilience, and though the pandemic is not over yet, hopefulness is beginning to surface.

Read the following article and watch the video to understand the pandemic's toll on all brains.

View the following video 

Note: Be sure to include both the reading and the video. Feel free to share with two or three others.

Assignment #3: Anxiety Goes Viral

In Chapter 1-2, Unwinding Anxiety, the author discusses types of anxiety and what flips the switch explaining how anxiety shows and explains how and why anxiety skyrocketed. The author addresses why you can’t just fix anxiety with willpower and thinking, an area where you may have struggled.

Also, view the introductory video on how anxiety goes viral by Dr. Jud to support your reading.

In a 400-500+ word response, consider the following using your learning from the video, the reading, and your experience through the pandemic.

  1. Differences between panic attacks, GAD, everyday anxiety.
  2. The deterioration of mental health during the pandemic.
  3. The battle of the old and new brains in sorting information.
  4. Life in the 24/7 information age and how we are affected.
  5. The brain’s ability to bring the PFC back online.

Assignment #4: Habit Loops that Become Addictions

During the pandemic, the COVID brain was looking for a quick fix. For you, it might have been food; for someone else scrolling social media for hours on end, for others, it was hanging out in their pajamas. Soon the habits became who we were. You feel trapped. Now you have the chance to learn about your 20,000 neurons and how you can put them to work to help you. Our new brain and old brain are working to help us survive. Let’s find out how to make this process more effective. 

In Chapter 3-4, pgs. 25-top of 43, in your text, Unwinding Anxiety. The author discusses habits and how they become powerful addictions that keep us in a worry, fear, stress cycle.

View this link as a continued exploration of the reading.  


Based on the reading from chapters 3 and 4 and the video from Dr. Jud, create a visual slide show to demonstrate your understanding of the following using one of the following apps.

  1. Habits and anxiety loops that become addictions
  2. The worry habit loop and the model
  3. Consideration of the battle of the old and newer brain
  4. Reflection on how worry and anxiety is limiting your life

Assignment #5: Mapping Your Mind

Read Chapters 5 & 6, Unwinding Anxiety. In these chapters, you will learn why habits are difficult to change but there is plenty of good news. Mapping your Brain will help you learn how to discover your habit loops and why bad habits like to stick around.
View the following videos:

Go to this link for a model you can use:


In 400–500+ words, respond to the videos, reading, and the practice in mapping your habit loops.  You may also videotape this response.
Include the following:

  • Mapping your habits and what you discovered.
  • Anti-habit, anti-anxiety practices that you have tried.
  • The difficulty of changing habit loops and stepping out of habit mode.
  • Role of worry in perpetuating the loops.
  • Being more aware of habits you do habitually, the proverbial “rabbit hole.”

Assignment #6: Mindfulness

In Chapters 8 & 9, Unwinding Anxiety, discover your own Mindfulness Personality Type and learn why mindfulness/meditation is like going to the gym for your brain.
Take the Behavioral Tendencies Quiz in your text, pgs. 96-98.

View the video from Dr. Jud to support your reading: 

Create a chart or diagram to show the results of your behavioral tendencies and your understanding of mindfulness as a healing tool for anxiety. Pictures and/or graphics recommended.

Assignment #7: Curiosity

In Chapter 16, Unwinding Curiosity, learn how curiosity helps you move out of your old habits/habit loops to step into the present moment. 
Listen to the following:

List five examples of habits that you would like to challenge through curiosity. Write each of them down, then list the way that you are curious about each one. Has the activity altered your thinking? Has the technique of Hmmm been helpful for you?

Your assignment is to write a letter to yourself. Address the habits that you would like to eliminate. Walk- through the process of being aware of those habits, how you can use curiosity to challenge them, and then reflect on your new thinking and how you view those habits differently. Be sure to include your new learning about curiosity and how it can change the brain, knowing that you cannot think your way out of anxiety; it is something you practice.

Assignment #8: RAIN for Rainy Days

Read chapter 18, Unwinding Anxiety, provides a clear reminder that there will be rainy days, i.e., days where you freak out or hit your limit. RAIN practice is critical in helping you stay in the present, so when an anxiety loop hits, and you know it will, you will be ready.

Create an infographic based on the principles in RAIN. Show each of the four stages in RAIN, including pictures, graphics, and metaphors. Make sure it is appropriate to your classroom or situation. The goal is a digital poster that can be printed for display or shared with others. Your audience may vary, but this assignment is directed to the students at the grade level you teach or intended for colleagues who are also struggling with anxiety. You can use one of the following free tools.

Assignment #9: Reaping Benefits of Relaxation

Read chapter 17, Unwinding Anxiety, shares a practical application. This will allow you to look at your panic zone, growth zone, and comfort zone.

View the following two (2) videos:          

View and practice the breathing exercise below.

To get started with mindfulness, spend at least 5-10 minutes a day for a period of three to five (3-5) days.  Choose from the list below to practice meditation. Just enjoy the time of sitting in quiet without working to overachieve or cross something off your list.

Outline your plan to keep yourself in your comfort zone using what you learned.
It could be a mind map, a poster, a creative project, a list with an explanation, or a paper - 400-500 words.

Assignment #10: COMPASSION

Read chapter 19, Unwinding Anxiety, introduces the practice of loving-kindness, also known as metta. Learning to let go of the past and focus on what we can give to ourselves and others is part of controlling our anxiety.


Choose two-three (2-3) of the following to practice a loving-kindness meditation for several days:

What is the story of hope and healing that you want to write to yourself or share with another? Take time to consider loving-kindness for several days. You can extend this practice to yourself and loved ones and certainly too difficult people in your life.

Respond by summarizing with 400-500 words what you have learned and your own realization that loving-kindness requires practice and dedication.  Include how you might share this learning in the classroom. Discuss loving-kindness as a valuable tool for you in dealing with anxiety.

Assignment #11: Daily Decisions

Read chapters 22 and 23, Unwinding Anxiety, inspires you to use the tools, learning, hacks, and neuroscience to create more flexibility, greater resilience, and speed as you move forward to a happier, kinder life.

Choose TWO (2) of the following videos to investigate: 

  • ​  How to Motivate yourself to change your behavior. Tali Sharot.

Choose one meditation to practice each day for one week from The Top 10 Guided Meditations of 2021. Include the results in your STOP IT graphic.

The Top 10 Guided Meditations of 2021 - Mindful  10 excellent meditations

Design your own STOP IT graphic organizer to look at designing your life, the new you with less anxiety and fully aware of how to combat it when it arrives. STOP IT refers to encouraging yourself just to STOP and focus on the areas listed above. Be sure to include and address your learning from the videos, reading, and meditations. This assignment is to help you focus on your ah-ha moments and how you would like to see change in your life for greater resilience and pressure.

You can create one for yourself based on the learning, or you can have the students do one and share the results.  



In this section, you will apply your learning to your professional situation. This course assumes that most participants are classroom teachers who have access to students. If you do not have a classroom available to you, please contact the instructor for course modifications. Assignments done in a course forum will show responses from all educators who have or are taking the course independently. ​Feel free to read and respond to others' comments. Group participants can only view and respond to their group members in the Forum. 


Assignment #12: Learning Application

Take one of the assignments from this course and design a lesson for your classroom. Share at least five samples (photos) of student work from your class. Reflect on student evidence in a 400–500-word commentary on what your student work sample demonstrates in terms of their mindset, mindfulness, habit loops, or understanding of anxiety. This may include routines they can use when anxious. Ideas include the Habit Loop, the different zones, mindfulness, addictive habits, or one of your own choice.

You could focus on loving-kindness, mindfulness, daily habits, and habit loops or choose your own topic.
Submit your student samples and reflection to your instructor.

If you are taking this course during the summer or currently not teaching, you can create two samples that would be useful to share with students.

Assignment #13: Passion Project.

Choose two (2) of the following:
Option A)
Choose the Habit Mapper to map your mind for two (2) weeks. Then discuss three to five new routines for automating and regulating more of your anxiety moments and practice them for two weeks. 

In a 500+ word response, share the effectiveness of your practice along with the continual assessment of your habit loops. As you do the practice, consider the wax on, wax off metaphor that you learned in the text (from The Karate Kid)
Option B)
Engage in mindfulness once a day for two full weeks, using any suggested videos or apps. Additional ideas are in the bibliography. Each day journal/doodle/draw/write about this process, your feelings, time of day, and effectiveness for you. Create a montage of those ideas in a poster, or write your response in 300-400 words.

Option C)

Share with a colleague or friend about your learning and healing. Create an outline that you will use when presenting. Be prepared to provide them with some coping strategies. Explain to them how to replace thoughts, knowing you can replace them. Choose the specific aspects of this course that you would like to share. After you have met with them, summarize in 500+ words or a video response. Be sure to include their thoughts.  What was most powerful for you in the sharing process?

Assignment #14: (500 Level ONLY)

In addition to the 400-level assignment, complete two (2) of the assignments: 

Option A) 
Professional Development Presentation Prepare a PowerPoint, Keynote, or video presentation that you can show to staff or parents that demonstrate strategies to support anxiety in teens or children in the classroom. 
Option B) 

Research three articles that identify three research studies related to rewiring the anxious brain. From your research, explain specifically how neuroscience offers a promise of reducing and eliminating anxiety. 
Write up your results and new understanding in a 500+ word delineation of the learning.
Option C) 
Design a Professional Development presentation on Teaching in the Time of Covid, which would offer a toolkit for teachers to deal with stress and anxiety. The presentation must include at least 25 slides, graphics, pictures, and slides that are fun to view. Have your teachers create a wellness wheel. Include the following in your presentation:

Self-awareness – how are you feeling right now? And, where do you want to be?
Tips for creating perseverance, making an effort to be positive
Goal setting – decide on actions that they want to meet and be very specific about how to set a routine
Self-care to rewire the brain


Option D)

Create another assignment of your own design with the instructor’s prior approval. 


Assignment #15: (Required for 400 and 500 level)

(Please do not write this paper until you've completed all of your other assignments)

Write a 400-500 word Integration Paper answering these 5 questions:

  1. What did you learn vs. what you expected to learn from this course?
  2. What aspects of the course were most helpful and why?
  3. What further knowledge and skills in this general area do you feel you need?
  4. How, when and where will you use what you have learned?
  5. How and with what other school or community members might you share what you learned?


Instructors will comment on each assignment. If you do not hear from the instructor within a few days of posting your assignment, please get in touch with them immediately.


Brenda McKinney, CEO of Vancouver, WA based BrainVolution, is a developer and dynamic facilitator of workshops that teach practical thinking and learning tools for raising student achievement with the brain in mind. She has trained educators throughout the Pacific Northwest and is a popular presenter because of her ability to motivate, make things fun, and teach practical techniques for the classroom that can be used immediately. Brenda continues to read hundreds of books and articles on the subject of neuroscience and searches for the answer to success for every student. Her work with at-risk students and those with reading problems have made her a popular speaker at the state, regional and national level.

Brenda is able to synthesize the new research and continues to address the role of how to use the latest findings to create high achievement classroom. She brings 30+ years of experience at the elementary, middle school, high school and university level as a mentor teacher, consultant, motivational speaker, university instructor, and reading specialist. Brenda has her Master’s in Education from Washington State University and is nationally certified in Brain Based Learning through the renowned  Jensen Corporation, led by Eric Jensen, a noted international spokesperson for neuroscience and education.


Brenda will inspire and motivate you with her energy, enthusiasm and knowledge. Her wisdom, techniques, and brain based approach to education will inspire you and challenge you to meet the demands of this ever changing world.



PANDEMIC FATIGUE: Beyond Anxiety, Depression & Helplessness

Allot, Kristen, ND, MS, Natasha Duarter, MS. 2021. Fuel Your Brain, Not Your Anxiety: Stop the Cycle of Worry, Fatigue, & Sugar Cravings with Simple Protein, Rich Foods. Harbinger Publications.
ISBN: 978-1-68403-623-3.
A fabulous feel better now workbook that walks you through how protein and sugar affect your brain. The key is providing you with inspiration to make healthier choices. Turns out you are what you eat is true, and a critical key to minimizing the anxiety of food choices. Very accessible and easy to use. Lots of charts.

Brewer, Judson. MD, PhD.2021. Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind. Penguin Random House.  ISBN: 978-0-593-33044-9

Carmichael, Dr. Chloe. 2021. Nervous Energy: Harness the Power of Your Anxiety. St. Martin’s Publishing. ISBN: 978-1-250-24121-4
Nine tools with step-by-step instruction to help turn off the brain. The nervous energy you label as anxiety can become a source of productivity and fulfillment if you have the tools to help make those changes. Not knowing what to do with your feelings of pent-up energy is a reason to dive into this book.

Colier, Nancy. 2021. Can’t Stop Thinking: How to Let Go of Anxiety & Free Yourself from Obsessive Rumination. Harbinger Publications. ISBN: 978-1-68403-877-6.

Gostick, Adrian & Chester Elton. 2021. Anxiety at Work: 8 Strategies to Help Teams Build Resilience, Handle Uncertainty, and Get Stuff Done. HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN: 988-10-06-304615-3.

Halloran, MS, LMHC. 2018. Coping Skills for Kids Workbook. PESI Publishing. ISBN: 978-1-68373-122-1.
Over 75 strategies to help kids deal with stress, anxiety, and anger. Innovative, fun, and engaging. Check out this resource for elementary.

Hutt, Rachel, Ph.D. 2019. Feeling Better. CBT Workbook for Teens: Essential Skills and Activities to Help You Manage Mood, Boost Self-Esteem, and Conquer Anxiety. Althea Press. ISBN: 978-1-64152-332-5.
An excellent resource for parents to give to teens. This resource is a helpful guide to untangling negative thinking and behavior.

Kanold, Timothy & Tina Boogren. 2022. Emotional Wellness: A Guide for Sustaining Physical, Mental, Emotional and Social Well-Being. Solution Tree, Wellness Solutions. ISBN: 978-1-954631-09-0.

Kaplan, Bonnie Ph.D., & Julia Rucklidge, Ph.D. 2021. The Better Brain: Overcome Anxiety, Combat Depression, and Reduce ADHD and Stress with Nutrition. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN: 978-10-358-447-10-8

Pittman, Catherine, Ph.D. & Elizabeth Karle, MLIS. 2015. Rewire Your Anxious Brain: How to Use the Neuroscience of Fear to End Anxiety, Panic & Worry. Harbinger Publications. ISBN: 978-1-62625-113
This book supports research from neuroscience and research. Tips and exercises are provided to help rewire your brain, but after reading this book, you will understand how to make your mind work with you instead of against you. By rewiring the brain, you lesson anxiety allowing yourself to forward be living in courage and a new sense of being.

Ramsey, Dr. Drew. MD. 2021. Eat to Beat Depression and Anxiety: Nourish Your Way to Better Mental Health in Six Weeks. Harper Collins. ISBN: 978-0-06-303171-5.

Robbins, Mel. 2021. The High 5: I Believe in You. Now It’s Time for You to Believe in You. Hay House Publications. ISBN: 978-1-4019-6432-2

Ruyle, Mike, Libby Child & Nancy Dome. 2022. The School Wellness Wheel: A Framework for Addressing Trauma, Culture and Mastery to Raise Student Achievement. Marzano Resources. ISBN: 978-1-943360-61-1.

Trevino, Dr. Edith. 2020. Teaching in the Time of Covid: A Social-Emotional Toolkit for Teachers. Horesch & Brown. ISBN: 979-8668-98735-1.