May Is The Time To Reach Out For Help & Check On Our Front Line Workers
At some point in our lives we will all experience loss and the last few months have been harder on some more than others. It may be the end of a relationship, being let go from a job, losing a home, or the death of a loved one. It is natural to go through a grieving process for those you know and for families you see suffering on the news every night during this challenging time. Many are grieving for the loss of their day to day normal, the anxiety about job security and the added pressure of homeschooling their children as well. While 1 in 5 people will experience a mental illness during their lifetime, everyone faces challenges in life that can impact their mental health,we can help ourselves to recover mentally and emotionally.
During a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic, it is common for everyone to experience increased levels of distress and anxiety, particularly as a result of social isolation. Physicians and other frontline health care professionals are particularly vulnerable to negative mental health effects as they strive to balance the duty of caring for patients with concerns about their own well-being and that of their family and friends.
- You are not alone! Nearly 60% of people have experienced a major loss.
- Healing takes time. Following a loss, nearly half of people said it took up to 6 months for their strong feelings of grief to lessen.
- You might literally hurt. Over 2/3 of people who went through a life-changing event had physical symptoms while they were grieving.
1. Feel free to feel your feelings
You and your colleagues are likely to feel immense pressure given the potential surge in care demands, risk of infection and equipment shortages, among other stressors. Experiencing stress and the feelings associated with it are by no means a sign of weakness or a reflection on your ability to do your job.
2. Intentionally employ coping strategies
Put into practice strategies that have worked for you in the past during times of stress. These can include getting enough rest and finding respite time during work or between shifts, eating meals (ideally, healthy food, on a schedule), engaging in physical activity and staying in contact (with appropriate social distancing) with family and friends.
3. Perform regular check-ins with yourself
Monitor yourself for symptoms of depression/stress disorder such as prolonged sadness, difficulty sleeping, intrusive memories and/or feelings of hopelessness. Talk to a trusted colleague or supervisor. Be open to seeking professional help if symptoms persist or worsen over time.
4. Take breaks from the news and social media
Make a regular habit of stepping away from your computer and smart phone from time to time. When returning online, focus on information from reputable sources, not just sources in your social media feed. You don’t have to take in everything produced by a 24/7 news cycle.
5. Be fortified by remembering the importance and meaning of your work
Remind yourself that despite the current challenges and frustrations, yours is a noble calling – taking care of those in need in a time of great uncertainty. Make sure to take time to recognize the efforts and sacrifices made by your colleagues. Together, we are all stronger.
Resources for you and your loved ones: