For the last few weeks health care workers have been working extremely long hours in order to test and treat patients ailing from the COVID-19 virus. During this pandemic, practitioners, nurses, lab techs, pharmacists and other front-line workers are being put under immense stress. The intricacy of responding to COVID-19 is resulting in increased personal and professional demands for our healthcare workers. Not only are our healthcare workers battling this pandemic, but they are also taking care of the regular sick patients in their facilities. With the continued daily workload demands and the need to maintain high standards, all while managing up to the minute regulatory changes and rules, it is imperative that these workers take proper precautions to ensure they don’t compromise their mental and physical wellbeing. Some major stress factors could be:
- Possible separation from and concern about family members
- Fears about infection and subsequent implications for self, patients, and family
- Inner conflict about competing needs and demands
- Others’ fear of contact with those treating patients with COVID-19
- Health care workers’ self-stigma about voicing their needs and fears
For health workers, feeling under stress is extremely likely during this unprecedented time. In fact, it is normal to feel this way. Having these feelings is in no way an indication that they cannot do their job properly, however, it is imperative that it is managed. Using the following helpful coping strategies could be extremely beneficial.
- Ensuring enough brief relaxation/stress management breaks
- Taking time-outs for basic bodily care and refreshment
- Eating enough and healthy food
- Engaging in physical activity
- Staying in contact with family and friends
- Focusing efforts on what is within their control
Even for those who are not directly in the line of duty, there are ways everyone can contribute. Provide support to a family member or friend who is working on the front lines by offering support or knowing how to link them to available resources. Utilize social media platforms to initiate words of encouragement and gratitude. Lastly, adhere to the rules set by the local, state and federal government. It is our duty to follow instructions for our healthcare workers to have a fighting chance to get this under control.