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5 Tips for Tackling Stress from COVID

Updated: Jul 17, 2022

It seems very fitting that Stress Awareness month falls in April given that this year we are experiencing what may be the largest public disaster of our lifetimes, COVID, right as spring hits. Many of us have been at home for the last month, playing teacher to our children while working. Many in healthcare have had to quickly adapt to new procedures, new methods of seeing patients with the uncertainty that they will continue to have clients or even continue to get paid. Whatever your situation, stress levels are high, and with that comes a challenge to maintain health.

For the patient with diabetes, there are additional stressors that come with having a chronic disease during a time of disaster. Many are concerned about being able to continue getting their medications, possibly losing their jobs and, thus, health insurance. The routines that many rely on for blood sugar management may no longer be possible – going to the gym, for example. We know that stress itself can change blood sugar and increase the temptation for sweets and high fat foods.

So what can we do in this time of uncertainty? How can we ourselves maintain level heads and stay healthy while helping guide patients to be able to do the same?

In my experience, there are a few key concepts to focus on to help make it through a changing climate and in particular, this quarantine.

  1. Every emotion that you are feeling is a shared emotion and is okay.

  2. This moment will pass. It will get better. Do what you can in this moment to make it to the next.

  3. Show yourself and others compassion.

  4. Listen to your body. If you need a nap, take it. If you need to call a friend, do it. If you need something sweet, try not to give in too often.

  5. Limit how much time you spend listening to news as this can unnecessarily increase stress levels and cause additional anxiety.

While I’d like to say that being quarantined at home means having more time to work out, prepare healthy meals and relax, that just isn’t the reality. Staying at home may mean feeling lonely and isolated or that there is no alone time. Motivation may be lacking, which is a common response to being overwhelmed

like we see in cases of diabetes burnout. The

truth is that many of our go-to stress relievers are not possible right now and may not be possible for quite some time. The uncertainty of the situation weighs heavily on everyone and takes a toll on mental health. Naming the emotions and opening up the conversation to explore them may be the ticket to making change happen despite the fear and lack of motivation for both ourselves and our patients.

If we begin each session truly asking how someone is doing and encouraging a deeper discussion of the impacts of quarantine on their lives, we can help them understand how they react to stress and ways of overcoming it. While we often want to solve their problem, there isn’t a way to do that right now which may help us dig deeper to truly provide advice based on where the patient is mentally and emotionally. In that way, we may be able to spur positive change in a landscape that is undoubtedly negative.

I hope that you all are safe and healthy and encourage you to embrace the emotions that are ever flowing in a way that only improves your practice and enhances your understanding of the human condition.

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