Fear, anxiety, and strong emotions have emerged as a result of the coronavirus pandemic which may be overwhelming and lead to workplace stress. How you cope with these emotions and stress can affect your well-being, those you care about, and your co-workers.
During this pandemic, and beyond, it is critical that workers recognize what stress looks like and take the steps necessary to build resilience and manage anxiety on the job.
It is natural to feel stress, anxiety, grief, and worry during and after a disaster or traumatic disruption of your daily life, like the coronavirus pandemic. Everyone reacts differently, and even your own feelings may change over time. Notice and accept how you feel.
Taking care of your emotional health during a difficult time will help you think clearly and react to the urgent needs to protect yourself and those you care about.
Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger.
Fear and anxiety can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions. It’s important to recognize that everyone reacts differently to stressful situations.
Common symptoms of stress:
- Fear and worry about your own health and the health of those you care about
- Feelings of irritation, anger, or denial
- Changes in appetite, energy, and activity levels
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling uncertain, nervous, or anxious
- Lack of motivation
- Feeling tired, overwhelmed, or burned out
- Feeling sad or depressed
- Difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep
- Worsening of chronic health problems or mental health conditions
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs
Common work-related factors that can add to stress during any time of unknown certainty, like a pandemic:
- Concern about the risk of being exposed to the virus at work
- Taking care of personal and family needs while working
- Managing a different workload
- Lack of access to the tools and equipment needed to perform your job
- Feelings of guilt or a belief that you are not contributing enough to work
- Uncertainty about the future of your employment
- Learning new communication tools and dealing with technical difficulties
- Adapting to a different workspace or work schedule
Know where to find and understand the hazard reporting procedure for your organization and report any safety and health concerns.
At any time, if stressful feelings result in symptoms like fatigue or difficulty concentrating that interfere in your ability to do your job safely, make sure you talk to management so you can work together to come up with solutions that will maintain a safe working environment.
Increase your sense of control by developing a consistent daily routine and follow these tips to build resilience and manage job stress:
- Communicate with your co-workers, supervisors, and employees about job stress. Identify things that cause stress and work together to identify solutions. Talk openly about how work is being affected. Discuss how expectations may have changed.
- Take care of your body. Keep a regular sleep schedule. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
- Protect your mental health. Spend time outdoors, either being physically active or relaxing. Consider practicing mindfulness techniques. Do things you enjoy during non-work hours. If you are being treated for a mental health condition, continue with your treatment and be aware of any new or worsening symptoms.
- Connect with others. Talk to people you trust about your concerns, how you are feeling, and how current events are affecting you.
- Take breaks from work to stretch, exercise or check-in with supportive co-workers, family or friends.
- Stay informed. Know the facts about COVID-19. Learn the best ways to protect yourself and others. Understanding the risk and sharing accurate information with people you care about can reduce stress and help you make a connection with others.
- Avoid too much exposure to news. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about any crisis repeatedly, like the pandemic, can be upsetting and mentally exhausting.
- Check on other people. Helping others improves your sense of control, belonging and self-esteem. Look for safe ways to offer support to others, especially if they are showing signs of stress, like depression and anxiety.
- Seek help when needed. If you feel you may be misusing alcohol, illicit or prescription drugs as a means of coping, reach out for help.
Remind yourself that everyone is in an unusual situation with limited resources and we all play a crucial role in fighting this pandemic.