Working as a healthcare professional under the extreme circumstances of 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.
Here are some strategies to try during these highly stressful times:
Communicate with your coworkers, supervisors, and employees 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.
Try mindfulness techniques. “Focus mindfulness” involves looking inward to understand what’s happening in your mind, typically through a stimulus, like breathing exercises, to keep distractions at bay. “Awareness mindfulness” involves focusing the mind from an outside perspective. Practitioners try to view their thoughts and feelings as though they belong to someone else. Some individuals practice a combination of the two strategies.
One review, published in PLOS One in 2018 found that mindfulness-based stress-reduction strategies resulted in reduced levels of emotional exhaustion (a key symptom of burnout), stress, psychological distress, depression, anxiety, and occupational stress. The study also found that participants saw improved quality of sleep and higher levels of self-compassion and feelings of personal accomplishment.
Increase your sense of control by keeping a consistent daily routine when possible — ideally, one that is similar to your schedule before the pandemic.
- Try to get adequate sleep.
- Make time to eat healthy meals.
- Take breaks during your shift to rest, stretch, or check in with supportive colleagues, coworkers, friends and family.
Find a mental health professional.
- Contact your insurance provider to get information about your options, including referral information, coverage, and providers in your network.
- Once you have found a professional, call to schedule an appointment. If no appointments are available, join the waitlist.
- Ask questions! There is no one-size-fits-all approach to mental health. Finding what works for you may take time.
- Build a relationship. This connection is there to support you in your wellness.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- SAMHSA National Helpline
1-800-662 HELP (4357)
- SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline
- Crisis Text Line
Text HOME to 741741