COVID Anxiety and Stress
It’s been a difficult few weeks, regardless of your professional background—nursing, social work, disability management or another discipline—or care setting. Clients are growing more anxious, their caregivers more stressed and your colleagues more isolated. In addition to dealing with the pressures associated with COVID-19 at work and tending to the needs of their clients, many case managers are also juggling their own family pressures and obligations at the same time.
And yet, there you all are, providing advocacy and support. Making connections. Ensuring clients receive the care they need when they need it. Coordinating care in a strange and confusing time. And I know many case managers are on the front lines of the pandemic, caring for clients and working to keep the rest of us safe.
On behalf of the Commission, “Thank you,” and know that we are here for you.
While we are all practicing social distancing: we telecommute, and all meetings are conducted remotely; we also continue to maintain regular business hours (8:30 am - 5 pm EDT). Of course, the COVID-19 social distancing requirements have made it necessary for us—like so many other organizations—to make operational changes. To keep you apprised of these changes we have created a dedicated webpage to update you regarding how to get certified and stay certified.
April 2020 CCM exam administration moved to August for those professional case managers who want to get certified: As you may also already know, we have canceled the April CCM exam. Those originally scheduled to take the exam in April are now eligible to do so between Aug. 1 and Sept. 19 as part of an extended testing window.
Spring 2020 CCM Renewal window extended so you can stay certified: If your CCM is due to expire May 31, 2020, you will now have until June 30, 2020 to complete the CE requirements and apply for renewal.
2020 New World Symposium: Did you change your attendance from in-person to virtual due to COVID-19? By now, you should have received information on how to access seven complimentary CEs. This gives you the full number of CEs originally offered through the in-person conference. If you haven’t received any notifications, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tools to help you cope focused on COVID-19 response podcasts: In our next few podcasts, we’ll discuss ways to manage stress, relieve anxiety, cope with isolation and support caregivers during this pandemic. These ”Take a Listen” podcasts, as well as our library of previous recordings, are available here.
Speaking of stress…
A stress response can suppress the immune system and contribute to anxiety and depression. The Commission wants to help. Here are a few tips and strategies to help you manage your stress levels.
Limit media consumption
Uncertainty provides a fertile breeding ground for anxiety, but so can paying too much attention to the coronavirus-related news and social media. While we should all stay informed to stop the spread, it is important to strike a balance and reduce our media consumption. For me, that may mean listening to reliable news sources a couple of times a day and checking www.CDC.gov for updates. For you, it may mean avoiding social media altogether for a couple of days. Find that balance that brings you peace.
Yes, I know. That always seems to be the go-to therapy for stress. But it works! We know breathing exercises, like this one here, help us relax, reduce tension and de-stress.
Did you know the breathing center directly influences higher-order brain function? Scientists even know which neural pathway controls this process. (It’s a fascinating read, if you’re interested: Science 31 Mar 2017).
Interested in trying some new techniques?
WebMD lists several stress-reducing breathing techniques.
This Medical News Today article explores “4-7-8 breathing.”
Harvard Health discusses how breath control can help “quell errant stress response” and provides guidance on getting started.
Consider adding a meditation app to your phone, such as the “Calm” app
Practice social distancing, not social isolation
We all need to keep our physical distance and wear gloves, masks, etc. But that does not mean we need to live and work in isolation.
You may already be using video tools to stay in contact with clients, colleagues and friends. If not, think about setting up a video chat. You could even go old school with a phone call to bridge that gap. Even for the most introverted among us, isolation is unhealthy. So, as the old AT&T commercial says, “Reach out and touch someone.” Just don’t touch them.
A note of gratitude
Finally, I want to thank every one of you on the front lines of this pandemic. Your fierce compassion and almost-unimaginable courage inspire us all. Words are inadequate, but Fred Rogers came close:
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers—so many caring people in this world.”
All that’s left to say is, again, “thank you.”