To date worldwide, there have been more than 3 million people infected with COVID-19, over two hundred thousand deaths and millions of others who have been impacted financially, and emotionally. Our frontline workers are tasked with continuing to go to work to provide for our public health needs and safety. During this unprecedented pandemic, frontline workers and healthcare staff are trying to take care for their patients and the general public while also coping with their own physical exhaustion, stress, worry and anxiety. Below are a few tips, strategies and mental health resources for staying emotionally healthy.
EAT REGULARLY- With an increased workload, variable work schedules, and psychological fatigue, it is very easy to skip a meal. Sometimes you may be too tired to cook, instead preferring to catch up on your sleep. If you don’t have time or energy to cook, consider meal prepping, buying a healthy takeout meal, or choosing healthy frozen meal options. Although takeout and frozen foods may not be your top choice, it may be a better alternative to skipping meals or eating unhealthy snacks.
GET MOVING!- Even if you can’t go to the gym or participate in a sport with your exercise buddies, consider engaging in a physical activity at home like yoga, stretching, push ups, hand weights or work out videos.
MEDICATIONS- Don’t forget to take your medications if prescribed. Set reminder alarms or stick up post it notes so that you don’t miss any doses.
MENTAL TEMPERATURE CHECK:
Don’t forget to self-assess daily! How are you coping with your stress? Are you feeling more detached or shut down? Are you more irritable or easily annoyed? Have you started to self-isolate, or are not answering calls or texts? Do you feel overwhelmed or a loss of control? Are you crying or feeling down? If you are experiencing any of the above, do not hesitate to talk to someone and get help.
Step back and breathe. Depending on job demands, it may be very difficult to stop and hit the reset button. However, being able to unplug temporarily is important to allow both your body and mind to recharge. Try not to constantly talk about work during your breaks or at lunch. When at home fully focus on your family and participate in bonding activities to help rejuvenate your mind and spirit. Consider engaging in meditation, spiritual, or religious activities depending on your beliefs.
BUDDY CHECK IN:
Although you may be coping okay, that is not to say that your fellow coworkers are handling their stressors effectively. Look around you! As you walk through the hallway, pass an open office door, or chat in the staff lounge, look closely. Be on the lookout for any unexpected negative changes in appearance, hygiene, attitude, or mood with your coworkers. Consider doing a quick buddy check, by asking them how they are doing. Even if they may not open up at the time, remind them that help and resources are available.
Employers are encouraged to provide information to their staff on available resources including employee assistance programs, mental health providers and financial support. Consider highlighting available resources through continuous reminders on the company’s webpage, weekly emails, Facebook postings, or informational bulletin boards.
NORMALIZE HELP-SEEKING BEHAVIOR:
Although it is important to get help, doing so still has sociological and cultural stigmas attached. Everyone can do their part in normalizing seeking mental health assistance. As a society we don’t think twice when a person talks about going to their medical doctor for a medical issues. However, we all must be mindful in how we respond or comment when a person voices being stressed, overwhelmed or having problems coping. Let’s make sure we aren’t ridiculing, using negative language, gossiping, or minimizing the person’s difficulties. Instead, be that voice of encouragement and empowerment!