Chronic Stress, Burnout & Self-Care

Is this topic relevant to you and your organization?

We would love to hear from you - contact us at (720) 989-1705 or email [email protected].

Question:  Why do I feel so exhausted ALL THE TIME?

Answer:  COVID-19 has impacted nearly every aspect of our professional lives – businesses have been restructured entirely and many of us are overwhelmed by added pressure and demand resulting in high levels of chronic stress and workplace burnout.

We all have unique responses to stress, which are shaped by factors, such as: our family of origin, level of resilience and locus of control.  Some have an intrinsic locus of control, where difficulties are approached as “challenges that can be overcome” and others have an extrinsic locus of control and see obstacles as “problems that are happening to them”. 

​We, as humans, have far more authority over our mind and body’s responses to stress than we often realize. The key to understanding the signs and symptoms of chronic stress/burnout is to understand that they don’t appear all at once or overnight.  They tend to sneak up on us. It’s important to pay attention to the symptoms or cues our minds and bodies are telling us about our cognitive, physical and emotional wellbeing.​

When you are operating at a high level of stress and not recognizing symptoms, the likely result is workplace burnout.

Common symptoms of burnout:

  • Fatigue​
  • Difficulty focusing​
  • Lacking satisfaction with work and achievements​
  • Feeling disillusioned​
  • Lack of motivation​
  • Feelings of guilt

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s time to implement some self-care strategies.  Self-care doesn’t mean upending your entire life. It means making room for small, mindful, realistic shifts.  Here are some ideas:

Mind & Body: 

  • Get adequate rest: Incorporate a nightly routine to help prepare you for sleep.
  • Choose healthy foods​: Be mindful that during times of chronic stress, the brain will transmit messages craving high sugar, empty calorie food and beverages.   ​
  • Move your body: Find creative ways to remain active throughout your day.  Schedule ”standing breaks” chair yoga, dedicated time for exercise, going on a walk, ​
  • Engage in active relaxation​: Active relation activities like journaling, walking in nature, reading a book, meditation, and breathwork promote long-term health benefits for physical and emotional well-being. ​
  • Keep things in perspective: Maintain realistic and attainable expectations.​

Work/Life Balance:

  • Set up for success​: Establish a morning routine​, set scheduled breaks​ in advance and honor your lunchtime​.
  • Protect your workspace/home space: Be deliberate about setting boundaries, create a dedicated space conducive to work and productivity​
  • ”Book-end” your workday:​ Consider how you will know when work life is done, and your personal life begins (ex: visual cues, closing the laptop, cleaning work area, taking a brief walk or step outside for fresh air) ​
  • Take time to connect: Reach out to family, friends, and your colleagues.

More from Human Resources