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How to Support Stressed Nurses During COVID-19

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While a lot of the country is adjusting to working from home, or even out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare professionals are picking up the slack and then some. In addition to the high demand for extra hours (especially in places with large outbreaks like NYC and Seattle), being in the constant presence of people infected with this disease makes their already-dangerous job even closer to the fire than normal.

Many companies have chipped in providing goods and discounts for healthcare workers but there are things you can do, as well. Social distancing, of course, keeps people out of hospitals and thus, is an easy way to help, but here are a few other outside-of-the-box ways to help the nurses on the frontlines deal with the unwavering stress that comes with fighting a pandemic.

Be Aware & Sensitive of All the Work Nurses Are Putting In

A lot of jobs are stressful, and a lot of bosses set unrealistic expectations for their employees, but let’s face it: most of our jobs don’t require saving people’s lives on a daily basis. With the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing, all the stressful aspect of nurses jobs have been amplified, and cases of nurse burnout have grown equivalently.

If you have nurses in your close circle, be wary of the fact that they are dealing with things on a daily basis that most of us can’t fathom. Nurse burnout affects the psyche similarly to post-traumatic stress disorder and leaves people with feelings of cynicism, inefficiency, and exhaustion that is often denied. Simply being and supportive can go a long way, and reminding these true heroes how important they are can help reverse the effects of the unthinkable demands being placed on many of them on a daily basis. Knowing when to simply “be there for them” is important as well, as many are only getting a few hours to unwind each day and may not want to see anyone.

Promote Self-Care

It’s impossible to peruse the internet and social media today without being hit with a barrage of negative (and often embellished or completely false) information and digesting that stuff  is bad for everyone, especially those already stressed out from back-to-back triple shifts. Encouraging your loved ones in the healthcare field to stay away from social media is a great start to keeping a positive mind. Setting up Zoom sessions with friends and family that they can join at their own will and laugh a little is also a simple-but-effective means of dealing with stress.

Though many places are closed to the public, there are still plenty of places to get outdoors, so if possible, doing a little research on open hiking places in your area and sharing that with a healthcare loved one with a little bit of encouragement like, “check this out on your next day off; it’s a great place to destress,” not only shows you care, but the outdoors really are great for resetting the brain and improving mental health.


While They’re Working…

Helping them destress away from the workplace is the most important thing you can do for your healthcare loved ones, but here are a few more things you can do while they work that will certainly put a smile on their faces in a time when they’re hard to come by.

  • Pay for their parking – if you live in a big city, there is a good change nurses have to pay for parking when they go to work. As the work load drastically increases, so does that parking tab.
  • Order takeout – Many food companies are already pitching in to provide food for those in the healthcare industry, but you can follow suit and get some grub delivered for your nurse pals. Pizzas feed a lot of mouths!
  • Talk to “The Man” – Find out what your loved ones’ hospital(s) is/are short on, and reach out to your representatives encouraging them to work to get the healthcare professionals what they need.
  • Surprise them – Leaving some groceries on the steps at your friend’s house will not only brighten their day, but save them some precious time.
  • Volunteer – Any sort of aide listed above is, in a sense, volunteering, but even if you don’t have any loved ones on the front lines, there are plenty of organizations needing extra help in their effort to support the healthcare industry.

Think About Them First

Ultimately, the absolute best thing you can do to support your healthcare worker pals is to be safe and smart. Peaceful protesting is generally a pretty American thing to do, but not when there is a disease that spreads more easily than melted butter. Stay home, social distance, and keep yourself healthy, because every person sick is another shift for our nurses, and every person sick is one less person who can help support them.

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