COVID Delta Surge: Former ER Doctor Shares 6 Steps to Help Health-care Workers Cope & Shift Out of Fear by Dr. Jan Bonhoeffer
After a year and a half of pandemic, health-care workers are exhausted as COVID-19 cases again surge among unvaccinated Americans. As founder of Heart Based Medicine, a global foundation dedicated to helping health-care providers practice compassion and empathy, I have spoken widely on what I call a “pandemic of fear” impacting caregivers and others. When we are stressed, our body’s fight-or-flight reflex is activated with physical responses such as muscle tension, increased heart rate and short rapid breathing. Frequent and chronic stress of this type can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease and other serious health conditions.
Suppressing, ignoring or resisting what you are thinking about that is causing you to feel stress takes tremendous energy and can leave you feeling exhausted. Strong emotions that cause stress may fade with time, but many medical professionals don’t have the luxury of waiting. A quicker method involves connecting with ourselves in compassion:
- Become aware of your current state. Name what you are feeling right now (such as sadness, fear, worry, frustration, etc.).
- Think about the intense moment that triggered your feeling.
- Consider, recognize and welcome the feeling from a place of acceptance.
- Turn your attention to your breathing. Breathe a little bit deeper, a little bit slower.
- Ask “Is there a more appropriate feeling for this situation?” Listen for an answer.
- As a new feeling arises, welcome and activate this new feeling.
Sometimes, letting go of the feeling that is causing stress is enough to switch us out of a fear-based state and into a love-based state of calm, acceptance. When we are able to change our state, we can meet it not as an enemy, but as a pathway to healing.
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