Psychotherapy consultations are increasingly filled with clients who, since the start of the pandemic, have felt depressed or anxious.
The huge change in routine at home and at work, the lack of social contact, restrictions on mobility and access to recreation and health services … these are triggers for our nervous and emotional system to be affected if we don’t have mechanisms or strategies to help us alleviate these drastic changes in our lives.
logically in the case of healthcare professionals and support staff who are on the cutting edge and in contact with COVID patients and patients, these feelings of angst, sadness or fear coexist with them every day..
Psychological attrition of health workers in the COVID-19 crisis
A study published in the Spanish Journal of Public Health found that medium-high levels of anxiety (26.5% -44.6%), depression (8.1% -25%), anxiety and insomnia (23.6% -38%) and anxiety levels have been observed. ) in the health care population.
All of these emotional responses are those expected in a global pandemic situation, they are correct and must be legitimized – the unexpected would be that they would have had no effect on our health care, on us and on our lives. .
Let’s see what are the most common symptoms that in these situations could be an alarm and offer some psychological first aid tips that can be used to reduce the feeling of discomfort in the daily life of those who are at the forefront of the disease. pandemic.
On a physical level, there are symptoms of fatigue, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, headaches, changes in eating habits, and digestive issues.
On an emotional level irritability, anxiety, feelings of guilt and helplessness, aggressiveness, pessimismEmotional symptoms, and being on the defensive, could also appear.
At the cognitive level, there is usually difficulty concentrating on tasks and small memory gaps.
And finally, at the social level, there are also difficulties in the relationship and / or communication with colleagues and with friends and family.
How to fight the symptoms?
Here are some general tips for dealing with the psychological problems associated with working with sick people in the context of a pandemic.
1. Get rid of dysfunctional beliefs
Stop assuming certain irrational beliefs about the role of the caregiver because the caregiver is always right, Has unlimited capacities to cope with situations, does not need to hydrate, eat or rest as long as there are people who are in pain or who do not have their own needs.
2. Emotional breakdown
It is important to talk about what happened to us or how we felt in one situation or another, With our own colleagues. They are the ones who are going through the same situation and those who can best understand, listen and share. It does not mean charging others but sharing experiences, resources to manage, sensations, emotions … it will help us to let go and limit the fact that it is part of the job and not bring it back to the House.
3. Return to routine
When you come across such dramatic situations that spread over time, you tend to disconnect from what reality is outside of crisis situations. Everything begins to be put into perspective and can lead to disasters that penetrate all areas of our daily life. That’s why it’s important to get back to your habits when you get home, put on your washing machine, cook dinner and lunch the next day, take your dog out of the trash and participate in family life.
It helps to connect with the other reality, That of your daily life and of having a certain feeling of control in your life.
4. Improved personal care
If we’re not well, we won’t be able to take care of it, that’s the main idea. In times when stressful situations increase, it is essential not only to take care of yourself, but not to increase it..
Here are some ideas and activities with which you can perform personal care maintenance: having time to rest and disconnect, keep in touch with family and friends, play sports, play leisure and cultural activities, be in good health. contact with nature, use relaxation and meditation techniques, have a hobby (and practice) and sunbathe for 30 minutes / day.
5. Professional help
If you notice that the symptoms are of a high intensity which produces discomfort and self-care is not enough to cope with the discomfort, it is recommended to consult a doctor and seek professional help.
Dealing with crisis situations is a complex process, involving a large number of emotions and thoughts that are difficult to deal with, and most of the time, professionals themselves are not trained in the coping strategies that help them maintain a healthy life. good mental health. This is why seeking help from peers, institutions and mental health professionals is always a good option.
- García-Iglesias JJ, Gómez-Salgado J, Martín Pereira J, Fagundo-Rivera J, Ayuso-Murillo D, Martínez-Riera JR, Ruiz-Fruits C. Impact of SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) on health and health mental health professionals: a systematic review. Tower. Esp. Public health. 2020; 94: 23 July e202007088