Executive coach and therapist Dr. Daneen Skube addresses managing COVID and job stress in this edition of Interpersonal Edge.
Dr. Daneen Skube, Tribune Content Agency
Q: I am bone weary with stress in my job, being short staffed, scared of COVID-19, and feeling stressed about trying to find a vaccine. This is the shortlist! Just getting up and finding energy to go through my day is exhausting. Am I wimp? Are there any psychological strategies for getting up when your get up and go is gone, gone, gone?
A: No you are not a wimp. Everyone is exhausted right now. Yes, there are psychological strategies for getting up when your get up and go is gone! There are two steps to working with your fatigue:
- Understand the reasons
- Set realistic goals.
The reasons you and most people are so tired is it’s not only darkest before the dawn but also when you can see the end of a crisis a wave of exhaustion hits you. The reason people feel weary when they see the end of trauma is the adrenaline fueling their activities goes away. In the middle of a crisis, adrenaline floods our bodies. At the end of a crisis we collapse because we cannot run on adrenaline forever and the threat is coming to an end.
We then experience something called “adrenal fatigue” which is because we’ve been running off fight or flight chemicals never meant to be long-term responses. Being able to fight or flight helps mammals stay alive. But, when people use it in response to a long-term crisis the body collapses into exhaustion at some point.
Managing COVID and job stress
The good news is now your healing can begin. You have to shift from a crisis mode to a reparative mode. Sleep as much as you can or want. Eat foods that restore your health. Get outdoor and engage in gentle exercise. If you meditate, do that. If you don’t meditate, consider starting. Work each week at increasing the number of activities that are not goal-oriented.
During a crisis we all become drill sergeants with ourselves barking internal orders. To heal adrenal fatigue we need to transition into being loving mothers to ourselves. If you do research there are also supplements and herbs that research demonstrates support healing adrenal fatigue that may be helpful.
The good news is we’re finally seeing light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel. As of the publishing of this column, at least a half of the U.S. population has had at least one shot. We are rapidly moving toward the magic of herd immunity.
The goal setting part of staying productive means you have to set your sights lower. Now is not the time for ambitious personal or professional goals. Our workplaces are still more complex and challenging due to a mostly remote environment.
If you’re employed or looking for a job consistently or eating breakfast or participating in your team, congratulations, because you’re a COVID-19 rock star! Adrenal fatigue means we’re easily overwhelmed, small problems flood us, and simple tasks seem like climbing mountains. Treat yourself like a cranky tired child right now and you’ll be fine.
In the 12-step programs, they have an acronym for what you need to do in recovery and it is “H-A-L-T.” The letters stand for the wise advice that if you don’t want to go back to your addiction don’t get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. The point is, when we’re vulnerable we have to protect our well-being like stubborn guard dogs or we risk falling apart.
Once you heal the adrenal fatigue we all have from running scared from COVID-19 you’ll have plenty of time to set the world on fire with your ambition and brilliance. Right now, just plan to get out bed, do the simple things that keep your work and life going, and pat yourself on the back every night for a day well done.
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel’s “Workplace Guru” each Monday morning. She’s the author of “Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything” (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at www.interpersonaledge.com or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. (Sorry, no personal replies.)
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