I am a Nurse Practitioner, practicing in an inpatient hospital setting. I think it is very timely and important to discuss MANAGING ANXIETY AROUND CORONA VIRUS AS A HEALTHCARE PROVIDER.
This is not typically the type of post we have here on this page, but our mental health is very well as important as our physical health.
Our counterpart of THE WHOLE CALM is very dedicated to a whole life approach to anxiety and stress management.
First, let’s talk about the fact that for many of us, what we are anticipating is really anticipatory anxiety.
I live and work in Baltimore, where our ICU beds are usually always full baseline, so tipping the scales for us will be easy. It is already happening as a matter of fact, not only are we starting to surge on our ICU patients, we’re developing areas of overflow for the patients who are COVID-19 POSITIVE.
However, we still haven’t endured the worst of it.
What we’ve been dealing with here, and many will begin to deal with now has been the concept of “pre-traumatic stress”. This anticipation of what might happen, and not knowing how bad it will be or how severe the outcomes will affect you personally.
For those of you in pre-traumatic stress, I implore you to sit in your fears and acknowledge them. They are real, they are valid, they are all the things from every angle, especially as health care providers.
Writing down all of the fears will also help to get them out and stop trying to push on ignoring them. We know the basic ones – the illness affects you or your loved ones, you aren’t able to adequately care for your patients appropriately, you aren’t able to protect yourself appropriately from the virus.
Acknowledge It, Then Flip It!
All of these are VERY valid and certainly increased when you come home to a family.
So, acknowledge your fear, but then FLIP IT!
Think of something positive, you’ve already imagined all of your fears and the “worst case” scenarios. So, now do the opposite. Pull in some better thoughts and imagine the best possible outcome. Imagine the very best way your family would be impacted by this outcome as well.
The message here, is that it important to strike a balance between your thoughts and not allow yourself to dwell for too long in one area that will not serve you – as it is not your reality in this moment! It is always good to prepare the best way we can with the information we have at the time. However, we don’t know what will come with this, and every area is a little different.
If you are a healthcare provider currently in one of the hard hit areas, I know you will be in a different head space here. Your anxiety is NOT anticipatory, it is active and ongoing. I also say, let yourself feel your feelings, get them out, then try to see ONE positive thing that happened in your day, ONE silver lining or moment of gratitude.
I hope you have your very best team atmosphere, and your funniest co-worker who will make you laugh in the worst of the day. I hope you can look across your bio-containment area and know that the people there have your back, and are running for your supplies and watching your monitors too.
Overall, I hope that when this is over, we know we did the very best we could with the situation we were handed. That we rose to the occasion, and met each request with compassion. But, just as in every other part of life, you HAVE to take care of yourself in order to take care of others.
YOU CAN’T POUR FROM AN EMPTY CUP.
So, I will leave you with this, please try to keep seeing any positive you can, and protect yourself first. If the anxiety and stress of your situation or your day is overwhelming you, call on some calming strategies and it MIGHT take more than one.
If you need suggestions FOR CALMING STRATEGIES:
I’m thinking and praying for everyone on the front lines, testing and caring for all of these patients. This is your big virtual hug! In this together, let’s hope it passes soon.