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PPE Needs EPE (Emotional Protective Equipment) As Well

Depression and Anxiety Getting You Down?

Nurses Disasters Article   posted

Carol Ebert specializes in Wellness and Coaching for Women in their Third Act.

According to recent data from the US Census Bureau, approximately one third of all Americans are now showing signs of depression and anxiety--perhaps the most alarming indication yet of the pandemic’s impact on the psychological well-being of Americans. Whether you are on the front lines or not, take a minute to read thru this list of impossible daily challenges and pay attention to how it makes you feel. 

PPE Needs EPE (Emotional Protective Equipment) As Well
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No End in Sight?

Then imagine that you face this every day without an end in sight. 

  • No easy answer to life and death questions
  • Who gets put on a ventilator?
  • Who gets to wear the PPE?
  • How do we let people die alone without anyone by their side?
  • How do we choose which patients to treat? By age? By co-occurring diseases? By COVID-19 positive status?
  • No end to emotional trauma of workers
  • Overwhelmed by death, uncertainty, and patients’ fears as they struggle to live
  • Witnessing helplessness that families and loved ones feel
  • Powerlessness in the ability to protect without proper equipment
  • Deep sense of aloneness leaving a hospital shift to return home where they may be responsible for getting loved ones sick
  • Witnessing the pain, fear, and terror, that trauma survivors have endured
  • Feeling emotionally numb or shut down
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • More irritable
  • Using destructive coping (over/under eating, substance abuse, engaging in risky behavior)
  • Losing a sense of meaning in life
  • Feeling hopeless about the future
  • Experiencing relationship problems. 

What are you feeling right now after reading this list?  And there may be even more challenges than the ones I have listed to consider.  We definitely need to pay attention to the immediate and residual effect of all of this on our front line peers.

So what mechanisms can be put into place to support this “deadly” situation so we can provide an EMOTIONALLY PROTECTIVE SHIELD around our heroic workers for their wellbeing?

Emotional Protective Equipment (EPE)

University of Wisconsin-Madison Health Psychologist Shilagh Mirgain says now is the time for people to develop what she calls Emotional Protective Equipment (EPE), a powerful set of practices that can improve mood, lower anxiety and foster greater well-being through learning to direct kindness and care towards one’s own and others’ suffering during this time.

Regularly engaging in self-compassion is linked to increased resilience, improvement in mood, lowering of anxiety, and strengthening of well-being.  Here are strategies that can be utilized daily.

Treat yourself as you would a small child.

  • How would you reach out to comfort yourself as a child who is hurting?
  • That little child is still a part of you, so picture her and tell her how amazing she is.

Give yourself permission to be imperfect.

  • Strive for basic competence.
  • Do the best you can and that is all you need to do. 
  • Progress, not perfection.

Engage in mindfulness moments.

  • Take time to pause and get in contact with the emotional upset you may be experiencing so you can give yourself the care you need. 
  • Acknowledge the fact that “It is what it is” and accept and move on.
  • Bring your awareness into the present moment, take a breath, focus on grounding yourself, and feel that for this moment you are in control and can manage. (Do this as often as you can)

Manage your Mind.

  • When your mind views stressors in a negative way we tend to experience increased stress and poorer coping.  Instead, view the same stressor as a challenge to remain resilient.
  • Consider yourself being chosen for this work because you were meant to be in this place at this time and are up for the challenge. 
  • Cultivate an attitude of gratitude regarding the superior work you are doing to save lives and provide comfort.

Seek out social connection

  • Remember you are not alone.
  • Create a list of all the people you can rely on to talk to and share your experiences. 
  •  A problem shared takes half the burden off of you.    
  • Find safe ways to strengthen your social support, spend time with loved ones while still practicing physical distancing and masking as applicable.
  • If you can’t be with them physically, schedule times every day – even if it is just 5 minutes – to decompress by sharing what you are feeling.
  • Share with your workmates as well. A situation like this often leads to life-long bonding, much like military soldiers who go into battle together and always have that common bond.
  • Allow time to just “goof off” with someone else with no particular reason other than to feel better.

Recognize our common humanity.

  • We are more alike than we are different as we go through some of these same stressors during the pandemic. 
  • Now is the time to break down the divide between us, to move past limiting perceptions of one another.
  • Be aware of your personal biases and cultivate kindness toward others and yourself.

Upload this link “Loving Kindness by Karen Drucker” to your cell phone and play as often as needed. 

Overall, remember we are all in this together.

Feel free to share the strategies that work for you!

References

Developing Emotional Protective Equipment During the Pandemic

How to Cultivate More Self-Compassion

As reopening begins in uncertain coronavirus times, you need emotional protective equipment, too

Carol Ebert RN, BSN, MA, CHES, Certified Wellness Practitioner, Certified Mindful Coach, Sanoviv Nutrition Advisor; Inspiring Role Model for Women in their Third Act

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tnbutterfly - Mary specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg.

Great article, Carol.  Thanks for reminding us of the sometimes overwhelming emotional/psychological impact of this pandemic and some steps that can be taken.

simba and mufasa has 16 years experience.

You are so right, its time to take the time to connect with our inner selves. Running is my go to, I run for hours processing and reflecting on my life. By the time I get back home, my head is clear and can focus. Writing is good for me as well, it helps me put my thoughts in perspective. Great article!

simba and mufasa

Playing guitar and singing my inner groaning helps me.  It helps others if I'm alone when I'm inspired. . 

Carol Ebert specializes in Wellness and Coaching for Women in their Third Act.

1 hour ago, simba and mufasa said:

You are so right, its time to take the time to connect with our inner selves. Running is my go to, I run for hours processing and reflecting on my life. By the time I get back home, my head is clear and can focus. Writing is good for me as well, it helps me put my thoughts in perspective. Great article!

simba and mufasa

Thanks for your ideas.  Exercise has always been more of a stress-management tool for me than a fitness tool, tho I get both benefits from doing it.  Amazing how it peels away the layers of stress and leaves you refreshed and clear headed.

 

Carol Ebert specializes in Wellness and Coaching for Women in their Third Act.

1 hour ago, toomuchbaloney said:

Playing guitar and singing my inner groaning helps me.  It helps others if I'm alone when I'm inspired. . 

What a great outlet for you.  I live with a guitar teacher and love how I feel when I hear him playing.  He says "music is medicine for the soul".

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