Covid and First Responder Stress
There is this tiny little Corona Virus wreaking havoc in our lives. Some people don’t believe its real while is has the population of most of the world scared as hell. This is a hard reality. There is a reason why science is required in elementary school! (and U.S. Govt too for that matter but that’s a different post!) Not everyone likes science, not everyone was encouraged to enjoy school or pay attention and do well. So not everyone understands the severity of this tiny little thing that has been so destructive and disruptive to our lives. It also pisses us off. It pisses me off. So for some people there is motivation to deny it’s existence. Yes, they need therapy.
But the virus does exist and some of you are working in hospitals and seeing the very harsh reality of what this tiny thing does to a human body and a human psyche. People are dying alone while hospitals try to stop the spread of the virus but keeping visitors and anyone who isn’t essential out of the potentially contagious environment. I’ll be honest; the dying alone part of Covid is what scares me most. I would be honored and relieved to have a nurse or doctor or someone there with me if my family couldn’t be. I think helping you cope with the stress is everyone’s responsibility and it’s sad that many of you are running into people who say it’s a hoax. We wish it was a hoax!!!
So what can you do to cope with the stress and sadness and maybe even let-down you feel in response to dealing with this virus?
1. Try to know your limits. While at work, take breaks often. Use your leave. Seriously. Take a sick day/mental health day if you have to!
2. Eat! You are in survival mode; this is no time for a diet. You need the calories to keep your body and brain functioning. Yes you might put on weight because that is often what happens when there is a lot of cortisol circulating but you can drop the weight later when the crisis has passed.
3. When you have time off do something fun! You might be tempted to sleep because you feel exhausted but it’s not just your body that’s tired but your soul too. Your soul wont be recharged by staying in bed. Get out! Go do the things that make life worth living. Be with the people who are important to you (with covid precautions).
4. Sleep at night! If you are finding it hard to shut down and sleep after the stress of your workday, please don’t hesitate to call your doctor and get some pharmacological help. It’s doesn’t have to be a permanent solution but do it till your body figures out the new routine.
5. Exercise! You may be feeling like you need to vent. Studies have actually shown that venting is not all that emotionally productive. Dump that energy into a run or a swim or something that gets your heart rate up. Let your body flush out the nasty bad mood hormones and soak in some endorphins for a bit.
6. Let your friends and family know what you’re going through, they can be your supports and your advocates.