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By Luwana Walton, RN
Gayco Healthcare Nurse Consultant

Providing care to others during the COVID-19 pandemic can lead to stress, anxiety, fear, and other strong emotions. How you cope with these emotions can affect your well-being, the care you give to others while doing your job, and the well-being of the people you care about outside of work. During this pandemic, it is critical that you recognize what stress looks like, take steps to build your resilience and cope with stress, and know where to go if you need help.

“The stress level is very high, and there’s no time to recharge. It’s a constant state of being highly stressed and worried. It was always a hard job, but it’s just even harder right now”  NURSE

“I’m a lot more concerned about bringing home the illness to my family since I come in contact with COVID-19. And the pressure injuries from nonstop mask-wearing” NURSE

What are some symptoms of stress?

Feeling irritation, anger, or denial

Feeling uncertain, nervous or anxious

Feeling helpless or powerless

Lacking motivation

Feeling tired, overwhelmed, or burn out

Feeling sad or depressed

Having trouble sleeping

Having trouble concentrating

Experiencing or witnessing life-threatening or traumatic events impacts everyone differently. In some circumstances, the stress can be managed successfully to reduce associated negative health and behavioral outcomes. In other cases, some people may experience clinically significant distress or impairment such as acute stress disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or secondary traumatic stress. Compassion fatigue and burnout may also result from chronic workplace stress and exposure to traumatic events during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How to cope and enhance your resilience.

Communicate with your supervisors and coworkers about job stress. Talk openly about how the pandemic is affecting your work. Identify factors that cause stress and work together to identify solutions. Ask about how to access mental health resources in your workplace.

Remind yourself that everyone is in an unusual situation with limited resources. Identify and accept those things which you do not have control over. Recognize that you are performing a crucial role in fighting this pandemic and that you are doing the best you can.

Increase your sense of control by keeping a consistent daily routine when possible. Get adequate sleep. Make time to eat healthy meals. Take breaks to rest, stretch, and clear your mind. Get exercise when you can spending time outside. Do things you enjoy during non-work hours. Face time your family and friends their support is very important for you and them. We can’t do life alone.

Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news about the pandemic. Repeatedly hearing about the pandemic can be upsetting and mentally exhausting. Engage in mindfulness techniques such as breathing exercises and meditation instead.

Enjoy the satisfaction of making the resident’s isolation a better one. You are the only “family” they have contact with now. Window visits and face time are also a help. I have seen the videos and posts from facilities making the resident’s daily lives a better one and you should be very proud!! We will all get through this together.