Frontline workers have experienced high levels of stress throughout the COVID-19 pandemic

Taking care of yourself is important to help manage stressors like working longer shifts, co-workers calling out, and being restricted by PPE…combined with other stressors in your personal life.

Here are some coping strategies to use throughout the day to help you manage your stress and anxiety.

1. Recognize your stress…

You may feel stress in your body including in your muscles, and this can impact your breathing, thoughts, or energy levels. Once you identify your stress reaction, you can work on treating it more effectively.

2. Be mindful of your posture…

Your body carries stress in different areas including your back and shoulders, and especially in your feet if you stand for long periods of time. If you notice you’re slouching, remind yourself to stand upright – the right posture can help balance your weight throughout your body and alleviate pressure on your heels and toes.

3. Incorporate stretches and yoga…

During your shifts, be sure to take stretch breaks or do a little yoga. This helps you relieve some of the stress and tension from your muscles.

4. Give yourself something to look forward to…

Plan things you can do after your shifts or on your days off to treat yourself – for example…an at-home foot bath. Give your feet a good soak – you can even add in some essential oils to enhance your relaxation or enjoy a cup of your favorite tea or watch your favorite show.

5. Stay hydrated…

Keep a large bottle of water by your workstation to encourage you to take frequent sips.

6. Take walk breaks…

Whether it is taking a short walk outside or even walking to the bathroom or visiting your favorite co-worker, try to fit in a five-minute walk break every few hours.

7. Use your imagination…

Try a visualization technique and imagine yourself in a calm place. This can include the beach, in the mountains, by a lake, etc. Engage your senses to bring it to life by thinking of what you’d see, taste, smell, hear and feel being there.

8. Regulate your breathing…

If you notice you are feeling overwhelmed, try the five-finger breathing technique to calm your nerves; Hold out your hand in front of you with your fingers spread. Now, slowly trace the outside of your hand with the index finger from your other hand, breathing in when you trace up, and out when you trace down.

9. Embrace humor and laughter…

This can be a great tool to relieve stress. Share some laughs with the people around you. Seek out sources of humor, whether it is making light-hearted jokes with your workmates, or patients. Watch some funny videos of your favorite comedians during your breaks online.

10. Keep a Gratitude Log…

Jot down things in your journal or notes app about a few things you are grateful for or tasks you are happy you accomplished throughout the week to look back at later when you need a boost.

11. Seek help…

You don’t have to go through this alone, there are many resources available to support frontline workers who may be overwhelmed by stress and reactions to the pandemic. You have many options to consider including your employee assistance program that provides emotional and wellness resources.

You can’t pour from an empty cup so it’s important to add these strategies to your daily life to fill your cup up! Also, don’t forget to give yourself credit for all that you manage to do in this challenging time.

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