Stress and COVID

Lisa O'NeillHealth

The COVID-19 pandemic is something we will be talking about for years to come! Our lives have been turned upside down and stress levels are on the rise. Long-term care communities have been placed in quarantine situations including visitor restrictions where we have to explain to residents why their loved ones can’t be with them. We also have our caregivers who are worried about going home to young children, parents and/or grandparents and exposing them to the virus, working through PPE shortages, testing or lack of testing options, the list goes on and on. These situations contribute to higher stress levels both at home and in the workplace, with no escape. Pre-pandemic, we each found our “happy place” where we could shrug off stress and decompress. Today our “happy place” is pretty sad, isolated, and void of human contact but the good news is that stress will subside when the virus does! So what do we do now?


Stay positive! In a perfect, optimistic world, we look forward, beyond the current pandemic situation, even for a few moments and focus on recovery. Those who survive COVID-19, living in a world of isolation and social distancing, will learn from this experience. The world will benefit from increased awareness and embrace collaboration so as a country, we will be stronger and better prepared for any future challenges.

Stay aware and educated on current pandemic situations and don’t forget where we’ve been as it vitally important during this recovery time. The CDC and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are key websites to continuously monitor however also remember that pandemic situations may affect different areas of our nation at different times, in different ways. So, it is also important to keep current with local and state health departments and agencies to assist in preventing the risk of exposure in your community.

Heightened Awareness

As with COVID-19, early detection is essential in minimizing the spread of disease. Early detection, triage, and isolation of any suspected cases are critical. The process of increased awareness alone may increase confusion and stress with staff; some may overreact and think that all of their residents are exhibiting symptoms, while others may miss early signs/change in condition. Remember, collaboration requires care; for one another and for residents and families. We need to empathize and not point fingers or play the blame game, recognize those who go above and beyond, and ensure that you are capturing the opportunity to continuously educate your team.

Your Team

Remember to provide:

  • Enough time for participation in physical activities/exercise programs
  • Healthy food options for your team during working hours
  • Care packages for team members to take home to their families
  • Digital support groups for your team and families using an online video chat platform.
  • Above all, be a good listener, be supportive and never judge

The options are endless, but remember, we can’t provide for others unless we take care of ourselves first! 

And What About You?

Take care of yourself! This is sometimes a challenge for healthcare providers as we tend to get caught up in providing for others. Remember, you need time to “turn off” or “hit the pause button”! Some of us prefer action-oriented approaches to manage stress such as communication while others prefer emotion-oriented options that are meditation driven. This is one thing you have control over during this stressful time, appreciate the small things, embrace the future, remember to smell the flowers, and be well!