As a result of added stress from the pandemic, anxiety and substance use are increasing among frontline staff who find it increasingly difficult to be at their best on others’ worst days.
Violence against healthcare workers has been rising for a decade, but it spiked during the pandemic. In addition to physical attacks, online harassment has become more common.
This is happening at a time when medical teams are stretched thin from a high volume of patients, many of them seriously ill, and fewer staff available to cover the increased workload.
“Every provider is striving to give the same level of care to clients,” said Amy Young, Director of Nursing at the Rosecrance Harrison Campus. “We’re frustrated in meeting our own standards of excellence, and then we have to face all these other pressures that impact our ability to function well on the job and in our personal lives. It’s difficult to be a selfless giver when your tank is empty.”
For healthcare workers who are experiencing anxiety, finding a safe person to talk to is the most important step to navigating life. This may be a coworker, counselor, religious leader, Rosecrance staff, or someone else who understands the trauma frontline workers face daily.
In addition, it is important to decompress. During a shift, that may be taking an extra few seconds between patients for mindfulness exercises. Once off the clock, develop a routine to transition out of work mode before you reengage with family and friends. This will allow you to be fully present in those settings.
Last, be kind to yourself. One way to do this is by allowing yourself to have emotions. Also, sticking with the basics—proper rest, healthy eating, engaging in stress relief activities—will enable your mind and body to process the daily rigors.
“Healthcare workers are generally good at compartmentalizing work and home life, but it’s becoming more difficult to do that,” Young said. “We need to be especially attentive to our own needs through these times and get help if we’re struggling.”