Whether you’re a caregiver to your family members or a professional caregiver as a nurse, doctor, teacher, clergy member, service employee, or therapist, these past few years have brought many challenges. The world has certainly changed with virtual connections, social media, teleconferencing, and Zoom. We have lost the ability to be present face-to-face, which has been a hardship for many, especially those whose loved ones were hospitalized or placed in out-of-home facilities.
For caregivers, providing care and services during this pandemic has led to stress, anxiety, fear, and other strong emotions. How you cope with these emotions can affect your well-being, the care and services that you give to others while doing your job, and the well-being of the people that you care about outside of work. During this pandemic, it is critical that you recognize what stress looks like, take steps to build your resilience to cope with stress and prevent caregiver burnout, and know where to go if you need help.
Recognize the symptoms of stress that you may be experiencing:
Feeling irritation, anger, or denial
Feeling uncertain, nervous, or anxious
Feeling helpless or powerless
Feeling tired, overwhelmed, or burned out
Feeling sad or depressed
Having trouble sleeping
Having trouble concentrating
Tips to cope and enhance your resilience:
1. Talk openly with your co-workers, supervisors, and employees about job stress.
a. Talk about how the pandemic is affecting your work.
b. Identify factors that cause stress and work together to identify solutions.
c. Ask about how to access mental health resources in your workplace.
2. Remind yourself that everyone is in an unusual situation with limited resources.
3. Identify and accept those things which you do not have control over.
4. Recognize that you are performing a crucial role in fighting this pandemic and that you are doing the best that you can with the resources available.
5. Increase your sense of control by keeping a consistent daily routine when possible. Ideally one that is similar to your schedule before the pandemic.
a. Try to get adequate sleep.
b. Make time to eat healthy meals.
c. Take breaks during your shift to rest, stretch, or check in with supportive colleagues, coworkers, friends, or family.
6. When away from work, get exercise when you can. Spend time outdoors either being physically active or relaxing. Do things you enjoy during non-work hours.
7. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting and mentally exhausting, especially since you work with people directly affected by the pandemic.
8. If you feel you may be misusing alcohol or other drugs (including prescriptions), ask for help.
9. Engage in mindfulness techniques, such as breathing exercises and meditation.
10. If you are being treated for a mental health condition, continue with your treatment and talk to your provider if you experience new or worsening symptoms.
Where to find help?
Jewish Family Services of Greater Orlando (JFS Orlando) offers a FAMILY of services to assist and support you as you heal from caregiver burnout, or other difficulties you may have experienced during the pandemic.
Brenda S Faiber, MS, LMFT has been a practicing Marriage & Family Therapist for 37 years and has worked as a consultant and therapist in many different venues including JFS Orlando, Intensive Outpatient Substance Abuse Centers, FEMA and recently as a Behavioral Health Specialist for a comprehensive and all-inclusive LGBTQA center and her private practice in Altamonte Springs.
Her greatest joy is when a client shares with her that she made a significant difference in their lives and they will be forever appreciative and grateful. Helping people live safely in the world being all that they can “be” is what being a therapist is all about for her. Her mission has always been to provide a safe, nurturing environment for individuals to heal their wounds, reclaim their lost selves and learn how to become proactive in their lives.
She believes that: “We all have the gift of life and it is up to us how we live it.Don’t ever give up and take ‘no’ for an answer.”