Feeling coronavirus anxiety? There are ways to ease it

To relieve anxiety during these stressful times, focus on the present and create daily routines, says Tung Tran, Director of the Mental Health and Addiction Program
To relieve anxiety during these stressful times, focus on the present and create daily routines, says Tung Tran, Director of the Mental Health and Addiction Program

These are stressful times for staff in our CIUSSS. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you are not alone – and there’s help available.

CIUSSS West-Central Montreal offers a range of support services to help staff get through this demanding period, ranging from a crisis hotline to daily COVID-19 updates and access to hotel rooms.

“It’s important for everyone to look after their health during this challenging time. Remember, there is help for those who need it,” says Beverly Kravitz, Director of Human Resources, Communications, Legal Affairs and Global Security for our CIUSSS.

“We need to take care ourselves so we can take care of others.”

Seven days a week, employees who need help can access a counselling hotline staffed by psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists and other professionals. The service is confidential.

“Don’t hesitate to call if you need someone to listen, quickly,” says Nurse Dominique Pelletier, Human Resources’ Chief of Workplace Presence Management. “Anyone in emotional or mental distress can contact the hotline, and a professional can listen and give advice to help you deal with your struggles.”

The COVID-19 outbreak has created unprecedented demands on CIUSSS employees. Many face heavy workloads and unforeseen challenges. And, like everyone, they may feel anxiety and fear about the future.

It’s best to start by acknowledging it.

“Anxiety is an emotion related to worries about the unknown. You anticipate things and imagine the worst scenarios,” says Tung Tran, Director of the Mental Health and Addiction Program at our CIUSSS.

But there are ways to manage your stress, he says. For one, it’s important to try to create routines in your everyday life. You can’t control where the pandemic is heading, but you can have some control over what you do each day.

“It’s not true that we have lost control over everything,” says Mr. Tran. “You have to focus on the present, and say: ‘This is what I can do with my day.’ It’s about mindfulness.”

Regular sleep schedules, good eating habits, communication with other people – these should be part of a healthy routine. Schedules have been upended by the coronavirus crisis, so it’s important to create new ones, Mr. Tran says.

The avalanche of news can also become overwhelming. Some of the information, especially on social media, might not be reliable. Yet staff in the CIUSSS has the benefit of well-sourced information from its own experts, available through daily bulletins and other internal channels.

“It’s a privilege to have this kind of quality information, which is already curated by staff,” he says. “Stop looking everywhere, you’re not helping yourself.”

Finally, Mr. Tran says, stay in touch with people. Phone them, use FaceTime or Skype or other platforms. Try to bridge the isolation imposed by the COVID-19 outbreak. People are social animals and need one another.

Crucially, these connections can deliver something positive: “They have the effect of spreading hope, not fear,” Mr. Tran says.

Ultimately, we all benefit by looking after our well-being, says Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg, President and CEO of our CIUSSS.

“Take good care of yourself by paying attention to both your mental and your physical well‑being,” Dr. Rosenberg says in a message to staff. “We owe it to ourselves, our loved ones and the healthcare users who depend on us.”

Consult the complete list of services offered to staff during the COVID-19 crisis, as well as helpful videos

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