For professionals in the Allied Health field, we are already prone to a stressful work environment. However, it seems that these recent times are going to make an already stressful job, that much more challenging. So instead of having a broom closet breakdown, here are 5 COVID-19 stress tips to help reduce pandemic-related stress.
According to The American Journal of Managed Care (AMJC), “7 in 10 employees indicated in a survey that the COVID-19 pandemic has been the most stressful time of their entire professional career.” The need for COVID-19 stress tips is extremely apparent, however, more than tips may be needed to address the critical spike in mental health crises among health professionals. According to AMJC, “88% of workers reported experiencing moderate to extreme stress over the past 4 to 6 weeks. Among those reporting stress, 62% noted losing at least 1 hour a day in productivity and 32% lost at least 2 hours a day due to COVID-19–related stress.”
Get Some Shut-Eye
To begin our list of 5 simple COVID-19 Stress Tips, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Between rotating schedules, doubles, and over time it is no secret that health professionals might not be able to get a regular’s nights rest. However, finding the time to sleep, according to the American Institute of Stress, “reduces depression, weight gain, and high blood pressure.” Perhaps the biggest benefit of more regulated sleep is that it prevents the health issues related to insufficient sleep and stress, which creates a cyclical problem:
Too much stress can cause you to rest poorly, leading to mental and physical health issues which can, again, in turn, cause stress in daily life, leading to poor sleep at night.
COVID-19 Stress Tips #1:
- Switch to water or non-caffeinated beverages after lunchtime.
- Whenever you’re ready to lay down, make sure that you schedule yourself enough time to get a full night’s rest.
- Avoid excess sugar.
- Consider drinking herbal teas, like peppermint or chamomile, to help you to fall asleep.
- Consider listening to relaxing music.
- Invest in black-out curtains.
- Try to sleep in a quiet environment.
Talk it Out With a Trusted Friend
Before social distancing, the chances are less likely that after your shift you’d head straight home. Bars were open and most likely your social life was filled with a lot more activity then it is today. Even after an entire day surrounded by patients coming home to your apartment, with no plans, could leave a person feeling lonely.
According to The Healthy, “people really underestimate how toxic prolonged loneliness can be and unfortunately, many people are in that position and are very isolated right now due to being quarantined during the coronavirus pandemic. Feeling lonely on a regular basis can surprisingly shorten your lifespan by 26 percent, making it deadlier than obesity or alcoholism, according to a 2018 study published in Perspectives on Psychological Science.
COVID-19 Stress Tips #2: Communicate and Get Your Stress Off Your Chest
- Video hour-long happy hours or study group sessions.
- Try to stay connected with family, especially now.
- Connect over a new skill or shared online course.
Having a connection with friends outside of your household will help you to feel less isolated. The Healthy went on to say that, “maintaining close relationships is going to be one of the best things you can do to cope with stressful situations.”
Eat Right Often and Be Aware of the Dangers of Snacking
According to the NIH, obesity is defined as “abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health.” Obesity is a condition that is increasingly common. As many health professionals already know, “in the United States, 35.7% of adults are obese. This represents an important risk factor for potentially life-threatening health problems including cardiovascular diseases, type II diabetes, osteoarthritis, and certain cancers.”
Eating comfort or fatty food may be more damaging then you think. Although there have been multiple and diverse attempts to help individuals to lose weight and maintain healthy body weight, most fail to sustain lasting effects. Patients can often regain their lost weight within 5 years.
It seems that treating obesity starts with an understanding of obesity as a condition. Recent research states that foods, “particularly highly palatable and energy-dense ones”, maybe addictive in ways similar to drugs of abuse. These findings have consequently led to the conceptualization of ‘foods as drugs.’
COVID-19 Stress Tips #3: Reflect Honestly On Your Eating Habits
- Identify your food triggers.
- Does your snacking stem boredom or only happen at the same time of each day?
- Work to slowly phase out undesired food.
- There’s no reason to punish or starve yourself for temporary results, opt for gradual change.
- Sticking to your healthy lifestyle once you’ve committed.
Laughter Could Actually Be the Best Medicine
Although sometimes scrutinized, it seems that humor and laughter may still be a helpful mechanism to reduce stress. “Some Health researchers have repeatedly cited the benefits of a good laugh, from lowered blood pressure and stress levels, a helpful boost to the immune system, improved heart function, reduced pain, and increased endorphin levels,” according to the National Institute of Health. The article went on to say that. “researchers have shown that watching a humorous video for 20 minutes can significantly lower stress levels, on a level comparable to 20 minutes of exercise!”
COVID-19 Stress Tips #4: Giggle Like Nobody’s Watching
- Make time on your break for a daily funny video.
- Allow yourself a good belly laugh.
- Video call funny friends.
- Rediscover a favorite comedy movie or stand up special.
- Spend time with family and don’t be afraid to look silly!
Positive Self-Talk: You Can, You Are, You Will Become
Let’s be honest, we all talk to ourselves! However, it’s the negative self-talk that increases stress. Those “I can’t” thoughts or “you shouldn’t have” late-night torture sessions, is just negative self-talk. Positive self-talk, on the other hand, can help you calm down and control stress. With practice, you can learn to shift negative thoughts to positive ones. A more grounded positive and realistic outlook on your circumstances will help you to feel less stressed. We cannot control everything, however, we can control how we treat ourselves.
COVID-19 Stress Tips #5:
- Acknowledge a negative thought and turn it into a positive one.
- Think forward.
- Be your own best friend mentally.
- Avoid the trap of perfectionist thinking.
- Ground yourself and be present.
This is without a doubt one of the most challenging times to be in the profession. However, there are a lot of rewards as well. Equipt with these 5 simple COVID-19 stress tips you will be even more prepared then you already are.
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