COVID-19 Frontline Workers: Strategies for Staying Emotionally Healthy
To date, worldwide, there have been more than 3 million people infected with COVID-19, more than two hundred thousand deaths, and millions of other people who have been financially and emotionally affected. Our frontline workers are tasked with continuing to work to meet our public health and safety needs. During this unprecedented pandemic, frontline workers and healthcare personnel are trying to care for their patients and the general public while also dealing with their own physical exhaustion, stress, worry, and anxiety. Here are some mental health tips, strategies, and resources for staying emotionally healthy.
EAT REGULARLY – With an increased workload, variable work hours, and psychological fatigue, it’s very easy to skip a meal. Sometimes you may be too tired to cook and instead prefer to catch up on sleep. If you don’t have the time or energy to cook, consider preparing your meal, buying a healthy takeout, or choosing healthy frozen food options. Although takeout and frozen foods may not be your best option, they may be a better alternative to skipping meals or snacking on unhealthy ones.
STAY! – Even if you can’t go to the gym or participate in a sport with your exercise partners, consider doing a physical activity at home such as yoga, stretching, push-ups, hand weights, or exercise videos.
MEDICATIONS – Be sure to take your medications if they were prescribed for you. Set reminder alarms or paste post notes so you don’t miss any doses.
VERIFICATION OF MENTAL TEMPERATURE:
Don’t forget to self-evaluate daily! How are you dealing with your stress? Do you feel more detached or closed? Are you more irritable or easily upset? Have you started to isolate yourself or are you not responding to calls or texts? Are you feeling overwhelmed or out of control? Are you crying or are you feeling bad? If you experience any of the above, feel free to speak to someone and get help.
Take a step back and breathe. Depending on the demands of the job, it can be very difficult to stop and press the reset button. However, being able to temporarily disconnect is important to allow both your body and mind to recharge. Try not to constantly talk about work during your breaks or during lunch. When you are at home, focus fully on your family and participate in bonding activities to help rejuvenate your mind and spirit. Consider participating in meditation, spiritual, or religious activities based on your beliefs.
CHECK IN FRIEND:
Although you may be coping well, that doesn’t mean your coworkers are managing your stressors effectively. Look around! As you walk down the hall, pass an open office door, or chat in the staff lounge, take a closer look. Be on the lookout for any unexpected negative changes in appearance, hygiene, attitude, or mood with your co-workers. Consider doing a quick friend check, asking how they’re doing. Even if they may not open at that time, remind them that there is help and resources available.
Employers are encouraged to provide their staff with information on available resources, including employee assistance programs, mental health providers, and financial support. Consider highlighting available resources through ongoing reminders on the company website, weekly emails, Facebook posts, or informational bulletin boards.
STANDARDIZING BEHAVIOR SEEKING HELP:
Although getting help is important, doing so still carries sociological and cultural stigmas. Everyone can contribute to the normalization of mental health care seeking. As a society, we don’t think twice when a person talks about going to their doctor for a medical problem. However, we all need to be aware of how we respond or comment when a person expresses that they are stressed, overwhelmed, or have trouble coping. Let’s make sure we don’t ridicule, use negative language, gossip, or minimize the person’s difficulties. Instead, be that voice of encouragement and empowerment!
REMEMBER THAT ASKING FOR HELP IS NOT A SIGN OF WEAKNESS BUT A SIGN OF VALUE!
• National Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
• The Crisis Text Line: Text TALK to 741741
• NAMI Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI (1-800-950-6264)
• Disaster Helpline: 1-800-985-5990
• Dial 211- visit 211.org for help finding food, paying housing bills, and accessing free child care or other essential services.
• Military OneSource – Provides materials and information about programs for military parents.
Toll Free: 1-800-342-9647
In Spanish call: 1-800-342-9647
TTY / TTD: Dial 711 and provide the toll free number 1-800-342-9647
• Veterans (VA) Crisis Line: Call 800-273-8255 or text 838255
• Department of Defense / VA Suicide Outreach: http://www.suicideoutreach.org
• InTheRooms.com: Live AA / NA online meetings
MENTAL HEALTH SMARTPHONE APPS:
Moving Forward application
Life Armor App
Headspace (meditation app)
Insight Timer app
Copyright © Felecia D. Sheffield, PhD, HSP ,. All rights reserved in all media.