How Covid-19 Impacted Nurses at Work

How Covid-19 Impacted Nurses at Work

Covid-19 impacted nurses in the most brutal ways. Many nurses are exhausted, depressed, and in some cases, dying. While the pandemic is still on the rise, nurses suffer more than ever. But how did the pandemic change nursing? How can nurses get help? 

Covid-19 Impacted Nurses Psychologically and Physically

Caring for patients sick with Covid left many nurses not only exhausted physically but mentally as well.  As a result of this, many nurses are no longer functioning well at work. And when nurses cannot function properly, the quality of care delivered also decreases. Here’s how Covid-19 impacted nurses

Anxiety

Many nurses are facing pressure as they continue to care for sick patients. As the number of patients also increases, the levels of stress among nurses also rise. Because it’s not specific as to when the pandemic ends, many nurses anticipate the worse. That said, many of them have developed anxiety. 

Depression

Taking care of sick patients along with the dying ones caused some nurses to develop depression. Added to the high stress that they face every day at work, it’s not surprising to see nurses develop feelings of depression and anxiety. This depression also caused nurses to be less adaptable to the changes in their environment. It also makes them less susceptible to the needs of their patients. 

Burnout

Burnout is the most common psychological phenomenon among nurses characterized by an emotional, mental and physical decline in energy. It is often caused by work-related stress, leading to cynicism towards colleagues and low self-efficacy. Many nurses feel the burnout of their job due to long hours of work and less time for rest. 

Physical Exhaustion

Anxiety, depression, and burning out are not the only problems nurses face but the physical exhaustion from their day-to-day jobs. It’s a nurse’s job to check on patients and always be on their feet, moving. With longer working hours, nurses barely get the rest they need to de-stress.

Vacation days are also kept short because of the shortage of nursing staff and the new Covid variant that’s been on the rise. As a result, nurses are drained of energy, stressed, and physically exhausted as they care for Covid-19 patients. 

How Covid-19 Impacted Nurses with Stress

Nurses deal with stress differently. Some can still function well at work while others can’t. In this pandemic, it’s hard to tell who is anxious and depressed among our nurses. However, while many nurses don’t verbalize how they feel, there are still signs that they are under extreme stress. [1]

  1. Nurses are slow to respond during crises or emergencies. 
  2. They have difficulty concentrating and managing time. 
  3. Nurses often make errors while charting or giving medications. 
  4. They show signs of emotional exhaustion, cynicism, and depersonalization. 
  5. They have poor interpersonal skills and prefer working alone. 
  6. Nurses who are anxious and stressed are known to have a short fuse. 
  7. They are known to be quick to anger towards colleagues, their families, and even patients. 
  8. Nurses perform poorly with simple tasks like calculating doses or care mapping. 

How Can Nurses Deal with Anxiety?

The Covid-19 impacted nurses’ mental health in waves. As the pandemic continued, many nurses developed anxieties. Having anxiety can be crippling, and if you are a nurse, it’s a significant hindrance in your job. So, how can nurses like you deal with stress? Here’s what you can do:

1. Being aware of your condition 

Identifying that you have anxiety is the first step in managing it. Understanding that having anxiety does not impact your value as a person and as a nurse helps encourage you to seek the support you need. 

2. Ask for Help 

When you have anxiety, asking for help seems like an impossible thing to do. In some cases, nurses will choose to ask for help in situations that are too stressful. Others will inform close people that they are dealing with anxiety and depression. Regardless of how you want to ask for help, reaching out to your peers or mentors will help you get the support you need. 

3. Get enough rest

Nurses work long shifts every week. Dealing with different people, sick patients, and working with other healthcare professionals can be exhausting at the end of the day. Getting enough sleep, exercise, eating, and having space to de-stress is crucial for your well-being. It will also help you get back on your feet so you can help others again.

4. Seek professional help

If getting enough sleep, exercising, and relaxation doesn’t help ease your anxieties, it’s time to seek professional help. Psychiatrists, psychologists, and mental health counselors can help manage your depression and anxiety. They will teach you coping techniques and help empower nurses like you to manage their mental health and minimize its effects on your work. 

How Can Nurses Get Support from their Workplace

Nurses must get the support their needs regarding mental health at work. The nurse administrator’s job is to provide help, guidance and mentor nurses suffering from burnout during the pandemic [2]. Other ways they can help nurses are as follows:

1. Educating staff/team 

One of the best ways to support nurses suffering from anxiety and depression is by educating their team or staff. New and veteran nurses that are suffering from mental health issues may experience isolation among their peers. It is why it’s essential to help educate staff members about mental health and that talking about it is not a sign of weakness or insignificance. 

2. Provide support systems

A reliable support system in terms of mental health is vital to nurses. Leaders at work should help motivate and encourage nurses. Providing space for them to talk about their feelings about mental health is also a good idea. It will help them realize that they are not alone and their feelings are valid. 

3. Campaigning for self-care

As nurses, it’s easy to get lost in work and focus on the goals of taking care of people. However, when it comes to mental health, nurses are encouraged to take care of themselves first. Think about it, how can nurses take care of others if they don’t care for themselves? Nurse leaders must set an example on balancing work and personal care by allowing them to catch the much-needed breaks. 

4. Give access to resources

One of the best ways to help nurses suffering from anxiety and depression is to access internal and external behavioral health resources. Crisis hotlines, mental health counselors, or mental health screening must be readily available for them. Nurse leaders should be alert on giving access to their staff so they can get help early on. 

Nurses Are Still Going to Work, But They Need Help

The Covid-19 impacted nurses like an iceberg. No one knew how big and wide the pandemic was going to be until it reached countries around the world. Being a nurse during the Covid-19 pandemic is a challenging position to be.

There’s no denying that many nurses are tired, physically and mentally. But because they need to keep going, many nurses suppress their own emotions for fear of being stigmatized.

However, this is not going to benefit them at all. It is up to nurse leaders and managers to reduce this stigma surrounding mental health and make their nursing staff feel supported during these trying times. 

 

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