Weeks of hard work and long shifts take a toll. Always a danger for nurses and clinicians, burnout is now a more serious threat than ever. For those working on the COVID-19 front lines, here are 11 stress management tips to help you take the best possible care of yourself while also caring for others.
11 Stress Management Tips for Healthcare Workers during COVID-19
#1. Learn to set boundaries. It can be truly difficult to not work extended shifts during a time when you’re needed more than ever, but sometimes it’s better to pass on a shift to preserve your mental wellbeing. Talk to your supervisor and come to an agreement about where those boundaries can be.
#2: Take a break from the news. This one applies to just about everybody, and few clinicians and nurses have time to binge watch cable news anyway. But especially if you’re feeling emotionally overwhelmed with the scope of the pandemic, turning off the TV or logging out of Facebook for a few days could make a difference for your peace of mind.
#3: Keep up with loved ones via video chat. The sudden barrier between clinicians and their families is a difficult part of working on the front lines. And, while it’s a poor substitute for human contact, especially for an extended period, we are fortunate to live at a time when apps like Skype and Zoom have made it easy to video chat with pretty much anyone, anywhere.
#4. Get outdoors when you can. Even in cities and states where lockdown has been imposed more heavily than others, you’re still allowed outside for exercise. Even if it’s just 20 minutes over your break — but better yet, a full hour before or after your shift — a daily walk outdoors can do wonders for your mental health.
#5: Don’t neglect nutrition. Getting the right nutrition isn’t easy when you’re busy, but it’s worth the extra effort. Not only does it help your body withstand risks to its immune system, but other benefits like lower blood pressure have a direct effect on your mental health, too. Best of all? You can skip the supermarket and order citrus fruits, leafy greens and yogurt online.
#6: Join in group activities. Especially at larger facilities, you’ll often have the option to join in group activities during breaks or after your shift. Though many of these activities may have been postponed, some activities — like yoga, dance, pottery, painting — can be practiced under the current social distancing guidelines.
#7. Practice yoga or meditation. To really “reset” when you’re off work, you might consider yoga or transcendental meditation — two concepts that are much easier and less intimidating than they seem, and which have exploded in popularity in the age of quarantine. Many are offering free classes at the moment; a quick Google search will give you a variety of options.
#8: Seek on-site consultation, if available. Most hospitals have staff psychologists, counselors or chaplains to help clinicians cope with emotional strain. Though the wait time to see these professionals may be longer than usual at the moment, it may be worth it anyway to get the chance to speak your mind to someone who can offer professional guidance.
#9: Try online therapy. In lieu of an on-site counselor — or in addition — online therapy could provide the means to unburden yourself from your daily dose of stress. Whether via a website or a mobile app, a huge variety of online therapy providers like Betterhelp and Talkspace have emerged in recent years to offer quality at-home guidance to those who want it.
#10: Practice patience, and taking comfort in helping others. During the pandemic, you may be redirected or asked to do things beyond the scope of your main duty. While that can be inconvenient and frustration, joining in the current spirit of cheerful self-sacrifice and goodwill towards others isn’t just good for patients — it’s good for your mental wellbeing, too.
#11: Find a staffing partner committed to supporting you. Before you accept a COVID-19 assignment, make sure that your staffing provider offers clearly defined guidelines on safety and infection control. Policies about important measures like quarantine reimbursement means less worrying about the unknown, and better peace of mind while on the job.
Looking for a Crisis Response Travel Assignment?
Working travel assignments during the COVID-19 pandemic offers a unique blend of adventure and charitable giving. At a time when almost everyone is feeling some level of anxiety if not outright danger, traveling gives you the chance to fight back, either by treating patients in hard-hit areas or helping facilities cover other essential services during a difficult time.
At CareerStaff, we take care of our crisis clinicians and nurses, and we’re careful to keep them healthy. That includes making sure you have the info, PPE and support you need to deliver great care. It also means following strict policies to prevent infection and offering 14-day quarantine reimbursement to our travelers.
On top of our commitment to the health of our COVID-19 workers, we offer top pay and amazing benefits (read about them here), and we arrange all transportation and housing, too. No matter what state you live in, we can get you to a facility that needs your skills. Read more about the benefits of working a CareerStaff travel assignment here, or find an opportunity now!