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Building Emotional Resiliency on the Front Lines

The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic is proving to be more of a marathon than a sprint. How do we help provide relief to front-line teammates and help them deal with this stress so that they can provide the best care possible? The answer may be by building resiliency. This post provides a definition of resiliency, along with some tips on how to build emotional resiliency in ourselves and our teammates.

Resiliency is defined as the ability to adapt to difficult or stressful situations, including change, in a healthy way. This does not mean toughing it out on your own and ignoring your feelings. In fact, a resilient person does the opposite; he or she experiences anger, frustration or grief but is able to keep functioning both physically and psychologically, often with the help and support of others.

One of the foundations of emotional resiliency is practicing good self-care, including getting adequate rest, exercising regularly and eating well, as discussed in our blog post on empathy. Another activity that might help in building resiliency while social distancing is video chatting with loved ones. Although connecting with patients and teammates can be helpful for you and them (see blog post on coping with loneliness), make sure you are also connecting with other humans–such as, friends and family–outside of work. Meditation, prayer, and other spiritual practices may also prove to be helpful. Short, guided experiences and exercises are provided on this web page and in this blog post on mindfulness.

Other behaviors that may help in building emotional resiliency include:

  • Developing an attitude of gratitude. Every day, write down or share with another three things for which you are thankful.
  • Practicing acceptance. While you do not need to like something to accept it, letting go of something you cannot change and focusing your energy on what you can do is more helpful than “spinning your wheels”.
  • Focusing on what gives your life meaning. Volunteer for a cause or program that is important to you, perform small acts of kindness or set and achieve goals that give you a sense of purpose.
  • Building a cohesive team. A cohesive team, in which you have each other’s backs and can openly talk about how you are really doing, is important to have to rely on during adversity.
  • Seeking professional help if overwhelmed. Contact a mental health professional either through the Employee Assistance Program at your workplace, your insurance provider or by conducting a refined search on a website, such as Psychology Today.

As with many prolonged challenges or hardships, a multi-pronged approach or an individualized combination is needed to counteract the stress you may be experiencing due to the pandemic. For example, start doing an activity that has helped you cope with difficulties in the past; then after a few days, try adding a new behavior and continue if it is working for you. If not, replace it with one of the suggestions in this post. Be patient with yourself, as resiliency takes time to develop; congratulate yourself on small changes and success along the way. Lastly, remember positive self-talk: We got this!

For behavioral health-related resources, including additional tips on how to improve resiliency during the pandemic, visit DaVita.com/Coping.

Amanda “Mandy” Tilton, DNP, MSN, MBA, RN, CNN

Amanda “Mandy” Tilton, DNP, MSN, MBA, RN, CNN

Mandy Tilton, DNP, MSN, RN, chief nursing officer for DaVita, leads the nursing strategy at DaVita Kidney Care. She started with DaVita in 2001 as a patient care technician while completing nursing school, and after graduation, served as clinical coordinator, then facility administrator and then regional operations director. These responsibilities included all modalities and both chronic and acute dialysis. She has served as chairwoman of the Nurses & Technician Council for the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois and is currently on the board of directors. Mandy has delivered multiple clinical and operational presentations to groups in the kidney care industry. Mandy holds an associate’s in nursing degree from Kishwaukee College in Malta, Illinois, and a bachelor of science in nursing and a master of science in nursing degree from Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois. Additionally, she earned her MBA from Lewis University. She obtained her doctorate of nursing practice degree from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois and currently serves and adjunct faculty for the University.

Amber Pace, LCSW

Amber Pace, LCSW

Amber Pace is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Licensed Addiction Counselor whose passion is building successful teams who provide great care to patients, improving the quality of life they experience. Amber joins DaVita from Centura Health, where she most recently led development and growth of a 26-site integrated primary care behavioral health program. Prior to Centura, she served patients as a clinician at Jefferson Center for Mental Health and began her career with the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless in downtown Denver. Amber is also an Adjunct Faculty at University of Denver, where she teaches in the Graduate School of Social Work (SW). At DaVita, Amber is working with our national SW team to advance our focus on counseling and serving the behavioral health needs of our patients in our clinics and as part of our integrated kidney care programs.