Resilience on the Front Lines

How to Assess, Manage and Recover from Stress

Front line healthcare worker
Portrait of a young female healthcare worker wearing a protective TB mask

These tips will help you stay resilient during this difficult time

As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, you are faced with new challenges and increased levels of stress. Managing your stress has never been more important. While this isn’t the stress any of us were prepared for, there is a way to take a more positive approach to it. What if you could learn how to leverage stress to help you cope better and improve your resiliency in this difficult situation? Learning how to assess, manage, and recover from stress, can help you keep going—and maybe even grow—in the face of mounting pressure. As you start your day, use the steps below to help you and your team plan your resilience strategies.

ASSESS YOUR STRESS:

1. Recognize the symptoms of stress you experience. These might include worry, negative thoughts and emotions, irritability, inability to focus, physical symptoms like headaches, stomachaches, or difficulty sleeping.

2. Develop awareness of your stress symptoms and triggers. You can do this by checking in with yourself in the moment and paying attention to how you’re feeling physically and emotionally.

3. Is your stress reaching levels that are difficult to manage? Please see resources below for more support.

MINDSETMANAGE YOUR STRESS:

4. Identify what your inner voice is telling you when you encounter a stressful situation. Consider the choices you have about how you perceive, interpret, and respond to those stressors.

5. Train your inner voice to be more supportive when it comes to managing stress. Talk to yourself as if you were advising a close friend. What could you tell yourself to help get you through the day?

6. Remember that a powerful statement like “I can handle this” can help you get through hardship and stressful days.

TAKE TIME TO RECOVER:

7. Before you start the day, choose a statement that will keep you strong and focused today. Say it out loud. Repeat it as needed through the day!

8. Use brief, intentional breaks throughout the day. Take a few minutes (or even less, if time doesn’t allow) in between patients to recharge. Use the acronym STOP—Stop, Take a breath, Observe how you feel, and Proceed with preferred resilience strategy.

9. When you have a few minutes—use them for yourself and try one of the following: a deep breathing exercise, stretch, take a brief walk, call your family or friends, meditate, listen to a song that you like, eat a healthy snack. Do something that helps you feel renewed and re-energized.

10. At the end of each day, write down 3 things that you’ve been grateful for in the past 24 hours. If there is someone in particular you are grateful for, call them or text them to let them know.

MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES

11. For specific mental health support, reach out to the organization’s EAP website

12. For urgent mental health support, as per CDC recommendations, please see below:

If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, or feel like you
want to harm yourself or others:

13. For additional crisis support, you can Text HOME to 741741 to connect with a Crisis Counselor

14. The National Suicide Prevention Hot Line: 1-800-273-8255

15. Check here for more resources: Mental Health Resources for First Responders Under Stress

(Developed 6/7/2020)