Managing Stress and Isolation During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Friday, April 24, 2020

As you read this, the coronavirus dominates the global conversation. Turn on any news program, browse the internet, read a newspaper or listen to the radio — without exception, the story of the day is COVID-19.

While staying immersed in work 24/7 during this pandemic feels natural and necessary for clinicians, taking time to relax when possible is critical, too.

Physicians are often conditioned to care for others but may struggle with self-care, which could be one of the reasons that medical providers are disproportionately at risk for addiction, stress-related mental health issues, depression and anxiety.

By looking after their personal emotional well-being, clinicians can better care for the patients who count on them.

Ideas to unwind include:

  • Take a break from your news feed. Staying informed is important, but overload can take its toll on mental health.
  • Mix things up. If you are isolated from friends and family members, call them directly to catch up instead of relying on social media. If you are working remotely and communicating with patients all day via telephone or video feed, then make some time for yourself afterward to meditate or relax.
  • Acknowledge if you feel lonely, sad, frustrated or depressed. Expressing uncomfortable emotions can be therapeutic.
  • Talk with a trusted confidant when feeling overwhelmed.
  • Regularly take breaks if possible. Walking a dog or talking with a friend can minimize anxiety and loneliness.
  • Exercise outside if it’s allowed. Simply walking in nature can effectively relieve anxiety, depression and stress, according to the American Heart Association.
  • Check on family members who may be in need. Clinicians have a natural instinct to serve others. By reaching out to family members who are elderly or have special needs, you can enjoy connecting with and bringing some cheer to people who are special to you.