How to Manage Stress and Anxiety in the Workplace Amid COVID-19 Outbreak
Author: Colleen Dillon, RN, BSW, BSN, CCM
As COVID-19 continues to spread, it has added to existing anxieties many of us already have. I would like to start by stating there is of course no right or wrong way to feel about the impact of COVID-19. If you have a lower level of concern, you are not under-reacting. If you are concerned and taking extra precautions, you are not overreacting.
This disruption to our lives and workflow can increase our already existing stress level at work. High stress can result in depression, anxiety, compulsive behaviors and substance abuse. Stress can lead to headaches, fatigue, insomnia, stomach disorders, and high blood pressure.
What can we do to mitigate and decrease stress in the workplace?
If you are feeling increased stress about the coronavirus disease, you are certainly not alone. Talking about your anxieties and concerns with a friend, a family member, a work colleague, or even a professional can be helpful, particularly if you can try to create a dialogue that is supportive and positive. Your workplace likely has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). The EAP provides employees and their families with practical and emotional support including telehealth counseling free of charge for limited sessions on a confidential basis. Similarly, spending time with loved ones and actively talking about subjects other than COVID-19 may do wonders for your well-being and provide a welcome distraction.
Avoid excessive exposure to media coverage of COVID-19. Sensational news stories can increase and perpetuate unnecessary anxiety. Practice healthy activities by engaging in a lifestyle that encourages resilience and a healthy balance between work and home life. Take care of your body, eat healthy, get regular exercise, take deep breaths, stretch, get enough rest, or meditate. Seek enjoyment; stop and appreciate the things important to you: family; nature; music. Enjoy moments: a smile, the smell of coffee or your favorite scent, reading a good book, your pets and time with your family. Since we are all spending more time at home, it is a great time to perfect some great recipes.
Be sure to maintain a proper perspective; find information about COVID-19 from reliable sources such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC), European Center for Disease Control (ECDC), National Institute of Health (NIH), and World Health Organization (WHO). Learning about this virus can be helpful in combating anxiety, speculation, and the media frenzy.
As organizations around the world mobilize to address this outbreak, be proactive and consider both the mental and physical impacts that this might have. Open and clear communication, planning, and support mechanisms are key to maintaining the health, safety, and productivity of your employees–and ourselves. If you or someone you know becomes quarantined, connection can be more important than ever to prevent social isolation.
Helpful TIPS to Combat Stress and Anxiety
- 1. Maintain a healthy diet
- 2. Implement a daily stretching routine
- 3. Make time for exercise every day
- 4. Get a good night's sleep
- 5. Read a book or share reading time with your family
- 6. Try journaling
- 7. Use a stress ball or other soft object to release tension
- 8. Take multiple water breaks throughout the day
- 9. Step outside and go for a stroll
- 10. Recharge with naps
- 11. Practice meditation
- 12. Listen to music
- 13. Chat with friends
- 14. Clean your workstation
- 15. Invest time in an online learning course
LINKS for sources of reliable information:
Colleen Dillon is the Medical Desk Supervisor and has been at AXA Partners US since November 2012. Colleen has been a Registered Nurse since 2002. She is also Certified Case Manager with Bachelor’s degree in Nursing and Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. Before starting at AXA Partners Colleen worked primarily in Neuro-Trauma with her most recent position being in the Neurological Intensive Care unit at Northwestern Memorial Hospital here in Chicago.
This article is intended to provide you with information of a general nature and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Please consult with your doctor if you are experiencing health issues or have medical concerns. In cases of medical emergencies, call 911 or your local emergency number.