A Message from a Counselor and Parent of a Front-Line Worker

Posted by on Apr 10, 2020 in A COVID-19 World | 0 comments

Written By Candace Rau, LPCC, LSW

 

Candace Rau, LPCC, LSW, Counselor at Avenues of Counseling and Mediation in our Medina office.My oldest daughter is a front-line healthcare worker.  Many nights on her way home from a long shift on the COVID-19 floor, she calls me to vent and give voice to the things she’s seeing within the walls of her hospital as this monster virus begins to take form. The face of this pandemic is very real for our loved ones on the front lines. They are immersed in it everyday that they set foot into their healthcare facilities. 

 

Our front-line healthcare workers have very specific needs as we move forward into the COVID-19 Surge. The trauma they are being exposed to in the name of doing their job as our “Superhero Healers” is, and will continue to be, a heavy load for them to carry. They need not carry it alone. When individuals are able to divulge the fears, stresses, and anxieties that can swirl around in the chaos of our minds – on a good day, let alone in the middle of a pandemic – something magic happens…the fears begin to lose their power. There is healing in the act of being heard on a compassionate and empathetic level. 

 

During this surge, it’s important for all of us to remember to practice intentional self-care to help mitigate stress and anxiety. For the front-line healthcare worker, this same self-care becomes imperative as a daily practice. The National Center For PTSD recommends fighting stress through preparedness. But what does this actually look like in the life of a first responder during a pandemic/disaster situation? 

 

Plan for the worst, and hope for the best. Things to consider: 

 

  • Identify who will be your sounding board to process the things you are seeing and the strong emotions associated with those experiences. 
  • Know the signs of stress: https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-symptoms-effects_of-stress-on-the-body#1
  • Have a daily self-care plan including hygiene, alone time, eating good foods, exercise
  • Take vitamins and herbal supplements: zinc, raw vitamin C, elderberry, pre and probiotics, multi-vitamins. **(always check with your primary care provider before beginning a supplemental health care regimen)**
  • Have a plan for if you get sick: 
    • Where will you quarantine during your illness? 
    • Who will care for your children and your emotional support companions if you are unable to do so? 
    • Have a hospital bag packed. 
    • Who will manage your financial affairs should you become incapacitated for a period of time during your illness? 
    • Assemble important information in a binder: bills, due dates, and hard copies of insurance information. Ask yourself what information would someone need in order to manage your affairs should you contract the virus and find yourself too sick to do so yourself. 
    • Have at least two weeks worth of groceries, vitamins, supplements, medications, and household supplies on hand in case you are unable to acquire them during your illness. 
    • In the event of the worst case scenario, have your end-of-life documents in order. This would include: life insurance, powers of attorney, advance directives, funeral plans, and estate planning documents. 

While it would be unhealthy to ruminate on such unpleasant ideas, preparing for the worst-case scenarios protects yourself, your loved ones, and it can help alleviate your anxieties. Many anxieties and fears come from the “what-if” thoughts we all entertain. Answer the “what-ifs,” and they lose the edge to their power.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and keep watch for more posts from me in this series.

Read more about Candace here.

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