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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.