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Nurses are on the front lines quite a lot. And they’re known for being strong, forging ahead, and getting the job done.

But everyone facing this pandemic is dealing with something we’ve never experienced before—not on this level. Nurses often put everyone else in their lives first and themselves last.

It’s important, now more than ever, to keep calm and use self-care. If you’re not at your best, you won’t be able to take care of others.

Natalie Dinkins, Psychotherapist, MHC-LP, Bethany Medical Clinic, gives great tips on keeping calm and caring for yourself as we navigate the future.

How can nurses keep calm during this uncertain and tough time?

We all have our unique ways of handling stressful situations and it is important to take a daily personal inventory on how you are processing and coping with stress. During this time, it is natural to feel a wide range of emotions from fear, anxiety, sadness, irritability, or even feeling detached and numb. It’s important to note that we all deal with stressful life events differently, but the one thing we do know is that as humans we all thrive on feeling validated and supported. Here at Bethany Medical Clinic we would like to take a moment to let you know that you are not alone. As a result, we would like to share some helpful tips you can consider while you are at home or work.

  • Actively participate in self-care activities. This could mean taking a pause to do something mindful — boil a hot cup of tea and sip it slowly engaging your five senses, write in a journal, meditate/yoga, exercise, or engage in a nice cleansing breath.
  • Acknowledging your stress and coping with it as you continue to provide care will help you and your family stay well.

What can nurses do to keep calm if there are scared and are being called into work?

  •  Always check in with coworkers on their emotions and have them check on you. Find ways to support the community.
  • Form a buddy system. You are not alone during this. Work as a community to maintain a healthy balance.
  • Try to separate emotions from facts. When discussing COVID-19 it is important to discuss feelings and validate others’ concerns.
  • Allow yourself and your family time to recover from responding to COVID-19. This also means allowing yourself time after shifts to process, decompress, or just sit before heading home.

What should they not be doing?

Providing care to individuals during crisis can be just as stressful as rewarding. It is important to remind yourself to:

  • Don’t over work. Try to keep reasonable working hours to lessen overall exhaustion. It is never selfish to engage in small breaks to ensure time to rest, eat, and relax. There is power in time we take for ourselves, even if it’s 5 minutes.
  • Don’t push your limits. With the myriad of platforms for social media and instant fact gathering, it is important to limit saturation of media exposure i.e. print news, TV, radio, pod casts, online discussion forums that promote fear/panic, and overly utilizing search engines to research.
  • Don’t engage in unhealthy coping skills. Try to limit or avoid the amount of alcohol, caffeine, or nicotine intake.

There are many job-related stressors that nurses may face while providing care during COVID-19. These include intense work hours, overwhelming responsibilities, lack of a clear direction, poor communication, and work environments that are not secure. Providing patient care during stressful situations can take an emotional toll on you. This can lead to burnout or secondary traumatic stress. Being able to recognize the signs of these conditions in yourself and others is important to ensure breaks and additional resources one may need. These signs may be physical (fatigue, poor hygiene, racing heart, nightmares) and mental (fear, withdrawal, guilt). Most importantly, if you find yourself experiencing a shift in your mood that does not feel like your typical self, and you find yourself struggling to cope, please reach out and seek out treatment for further support.

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