Tired, Stressed, Anxious: How Nurses Can Feel Better While Fighting COVID-19
To the nurses battling COVID-19 on the front lines right now – we see you. You’re tired from working shift upon shift without proper rest. You’re weary from seeing your patients struggling to breathe; At times, fighting to survive. You’re angry and frustrated at the lack of necessary PPE available to you to perform your job. You’re scared to catch the virus yourself. Scared to bring the virus home to your family.
There’s a lot on your shoulders right now.
So, what can you do to reduce some of the increased anxiety and stress you’ve been feeling lately? We’ve got some tips that can help.
Don’t Keep It In
Whatever you do, don’t keep your fears and frustrations pent up inside. Vent with your coworkers. Let it all out on the phone with your spouse. Cry with your best friend. The point of doing these things is gain a release for those negative thoughts and energy that can bog you down. You also may find that identifying and naming some of the things that are bothering you helps in seeking resolution and/or peace.
Stop for a moment. Now breathe deeply. Repeat. Deep breathing is scientifically proven to reduce stress levels. One of the best parts of doing this? It can literally be done anywhere, anytime. Breathe deep in the breakroom for a moment. Refocus and oxygenate before entering a patient’s room. Focus on your breaths and maintaining calm in the carpool on the way to your next shift.
Talk to Someone
Just like you would pop a Tylenol for a pounding headache, you should get professional support for your mental health when it’s needed. Feeling stressed, sad, or overwhelmed is normal – especially right now with everything going on; But, if you, your coworkers, or loved ones notice it’s beginning to impede relationships or your work performance, then it’s time to reach out for help. Speaking to a therapist or psychologist can help give you the tools you need to better cope on your own.
When you’re constantly on the run and working with a demanding schedule, it can be much easier to grab unhealthy snacks and meals than you normally would. The problem with this is it can make you feel sluggish and drain your energy. Try keeping quick, healthy snacks stashed for easy access at work. Bringing a quick and healthy lunch to work with you can also help. Check out Daily Harvest for quick and pre-made healthy meals.
Get the Blood Pumping
We know. We know. The absolute last thing you want to do during or after a long shift is exercise of any kind. But, as a nurse, you know doing this (even for a few minutes) can increase your energy levels, reduce stress, and can even help you feel better by increasing your endorphins. Try doing some jumping jacks on your break, or taking a brisk walk around the hospital. You’ll feel better. Here are some free at-home workouts you can try.
Focus on What You Can Control
There’s a lot of unknown factors and events out of your control right now; This can feel like quite a burden. Try narrowing things down and focusing on what you can control; This can be something as simple as your breathing or checking off small tasks on a to-do list. The feelings of accomplishment you can get from narrowing your focus can carry you a long way.
Remember, You’re Doing a Great Job
You’re showing up every day and giving it your all. You’re doing a great job. And, the rest of the country is taking notice. Want proof? Check out this recent video of Vancouver residents simultaneously cheering on nurses and doctors for the amazing job that they do and try not to smile.