Managing stress on the frontline of COVID-19
Tuesday, March 31st, 2020 | Blog
During Stress Awareness Month we are looking at the various ways we can reduce and manage stress in our day-to-day lives in the face of the current pandemic. We’ve already looked at how we can manage stress in the home, which you can read about here, but in this blog we are going to talk about managing stress as a front-line care worker in the midst of this ongoing pandemic.
These are in no way a replacement for speaking with a qualified healthcare professional, but these small steps will hopefully provide just a little support in these unusual times.
One of the smallest steps you can take in managing stress is ensuring your body and mind are both able to better cope with added pressure. Dehydration is known to affect both your mood and your cognitive and motor skills, three things that are going to be absolutely vital on the front-line of providing care and support.
While it can be easy to forget to drink throughout the day, there are some steps you can take. Firstly, make sure you have your own water bottle that’s clearly labelled with your name and in a visible place that you are likely going to see it. Secondly, set yourself hours or half-hourly reminders on your phone to take sips. This will ensure you are prompted regularly throughout the day.
Learn to switch off
As important as you are to the world right now, it’s still important that you take the downtime you need and learn to switch off after a shift. Spending your downtime obsessing over work and visualising what’s happening will not give your body and mind the break it needs and you could end up burning out.
A good routine to adapt is having a specific ritual for marking the end of your working day. For some it could be five minutes of silence at the end of a working day to process everything that’s happened, for others it may be a nice long shower with some music. Once this ritual ends, refrain from talking and thinking about work until you need to, your body and mind will thank you for it and you will find yourself better rested, and better prepared when you return to work.
Take breaks from news and social media
You are a front-line healthcare worker, so odds are, you know more about what’s going on in hospitals, care homes and customer's homes than the majority of people do. For this reason, it’s worth considering giving yourself a break from the news cycle when you are out of work. COVID-19 has likely been dominating your day-to-day work-life, so the last thing you need is to come home and spend the entire evening hearing about it on the news. This also plays into properly switching off after work so you can focus on resting.
Acknowledge, understand and address secondary traumatic stress (STS)
Secondary traumatic stress disorder is a form of post-traumatic stress disorder that presents itself as the result of watching others suffer distress, pain or hardship. Part of being a healthcare professional is being the support that people desperately need during times of hardship, so it’s no surprise that this can sometimes have a negative effect on staff. Being able to recognise STS in yourself and others can help you take steps against it.
Visit the NHS page below for more information about PTSD
Speak to your colleagues
If you have had a particularly tough day, remember to tap into the best support network possible, your healthcare colleagues. While it can certainly feel like you are alone, especially if you are out in the community visiting customers in their homes, there are always people around you who are there to listen and support you. Many of our Kare Plus businesses across the country are going to extra lengths to support their staff with messages of support and even a few very special videos like this one below.
Stress and mental health in general are more important than ever before in the face of this ongoing pandemic, which is why our franchise network is committed to supporting healthcare workers on the frontline up and down the country. If you would like to find out more about how Kare Plus supports its staff, please visit our business locator where you can find the closest Kare Plus to you.