The COVID-19 pandemic is creating an ever-changing landscape for healthcare providers and their day-to-day practices. There are financial uncertainties, longer hours, changing and adapting practice structures, and shortages of necessary equipment. This constant state of change and readiness can lead to significant psychological, emotional, and physical impacts on both nurses and physicians that provide patient/family care during and after COVID-19.
Some tips regarding self-care and ways to reduce secondary traumatic stress:
- “Acknowledge that secondary traumatic stress can impact anyone helping families after a traumatic event.
- Learn the symptoms, including physical (fatigue, illness) and mental (fear, withdrawal, guilt).
- Allow time for you and your family to recover from responding to the pandemic.
- Create a menu of personal self-care activities that you enjoy, such as spending time with friends and family, exercising, or reading a book.
- Take a break from media coverage of COVID-19.
- Ask for help if you feel overwhelmed or concerned that COVID-19 is affecting your ability to care for your family and patients as you did before the outbreak.” (Source-CDC)
The Mayo Clinic identifies some concerning signs to be watchful for that may interfere with an individual’s ability to perform activities of daily living. These troubling signs include the following:
- Trouble focusing on daily activities
- Anxiety that turns into feelings of being out of control
- Strong feelings that interfere with daily activities
- Having emotions that become difficult to manage
- Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
There are services available to help providers and responders prepare, respond, and recover from disasters such as:
- Traumatic Incident Stress (CDC National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health- NIOSH)
- Interim NIOSH Training for Emergency Responders: Reducing Risks Associated with Long Work Hours (CDC NIOSH)
- Resilience Resources for Emergency Response (Occupational Safety and Health Administration)
- Psychological First Aid for First Responders (SAMHSA)
- Guidelines for Good Practice: Managing Stress in Humanitarian Workers (Antares Foundation)
- American Medical Association provides resources for health care leadership and caring for caregivers during COVID-19.
- Stanford Medicine provides tools and tips in the WellMD Center, including ways to test yourself, tips for getting healthy, and connected.
- National Academy of Medicine provides a hub for clinical well-being with easy links to COVID-19 resources.
- Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress provides pandemic response resources for professionals, families, leaders, training programs, publications, and infographics on self-care during the pandemic.
- For The Frontlines Crisis Hotline: text FRONTLINE to 741741 for immediate chat support and free crisis counseling for health care professionals and essential workers. It offers support to deal with anxiety, fear, isolation, or other difficult emotions you may be experiencing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- University of Kansas Medical Center Mental Health Toolkit for healthcare professionals provides links to free meditation apps and mental wellness self-care tips.