Supportive Care For Health Care & Frontline Workers
Updated: Aug 16
Here are 5 areas of support, (gentle reminders) and resources for you, the brave people facing this emerging illness, and giving care to our world. I've included some specific resources for health care workers here but most are accessible to any kind of front line worker, supporting our communities at this time.
1. MINDSET & MINDFULNESS
Toronto ER Dr. James Maskalyk offers a 2-minute guided mindfulness and breathing practice.
Managing your fears, overwhelm, the uncertainty of everything and the exhaustion on top of caring for others is an enormous task. You're not alone with it. Psychologist Ron Siegel talks with Dr. Ron Epstein strategies for mitigating fear, overwhelm and building resilience in the face of the unknown.
2. WORK PREPARATION
The Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians and the Centre for Excellence in Emergency Preparedness has put together a resource page that is updated daily.
The American College of Emergency Physicians has put together a resource to assist you in preparing for ER & ICU work with preparation tips and the latest information about how to protect and care for yourself and others.
MedMastery is on a mission to train a 1,000,000 medical professionals to confidently use ventilators in an ICU setting – for free. MedMastery is ACCME accredited and highly commended by the British Medical Association. If you’re a nurse or physician, you can get the free ventilation course here.
3. EMOTIONAL FIRST AID
COVIDCALM Clinics - Resilience trainers from 27 countries are available and ready to calm and comfort nurses and doctors globally by offering short daily stress management "clinics" on Zoom as you need them.
The Heart Math Institute shares the Quick Heart Coherence Breathing technique to use your heart to balance thoughts and emotions, it can be done anytime anywhere in a minute and is especially useful when you begin feeling emotionally draining feels such as frustration, irritation, anxiety or anger.
Staying in sync with others, coming together even if in physical distance or online alleviates and helps us reclaim some sense of calm and safety. This is in part why Bessel van der Kolk, MD says we've been singing together and trying to stay connected all over the world.
Fill your free time with life-affirming reminders and celebrations of life daily, to keep your heart and mind open to the beauty in life and the bigger picture. The wisdom of a grief counsellor taught me that keeping our spirits up with music, animals, children, laughter; whatever helps us connect with the joy of life will sustain us through the heaviest of times.
4. TRAUMA FIRST AID
Dr. Robin Youngson, an anesthesiologist and trauma therapist, from the Neuroscience of Healing, has put together 3 beautiful, free and succinct mini trainings, to assist, prevent, alleviate and let go of trauma in the health care setting. These short and sweet trainings were developed out of concern for the emotional health of health care professionals working in the COVID-19 emergency. Health professionals working in crisis are burdened with feelings of overwhelm, exhaustion, grief, anxiety, fear and anger. These feelings are burdens that can lead to chronic stress and illness, here you will learn:
How to Erase Your Traumatic Memory
5. ONGOING SUPPORT & AFTERCARE FOR YOU!
Movement & Stretching - If you've been working, by now your shoulders, neck and upper back are feeling the strain and tension of staying courageous, managing the weight of responsibility and the uncertainty on your shoulders. Move for your mind, move to discharge some of the tension building up. Roll your shoulders, swing your arms up and over your head, feel your flow and shake some of the tension out. Exercise and stretch often. Dance, try some yoga, lift some weights if that is your thing. The most important thing is you do some movement that helps bring the aliveness and sensation back into the parts of you that are going numb from tension.
Relaxation & Immunity - As you may well know we need to reach parasympathetic states to rest, digest, repair and restore, accessing our body's greater healing and immune response. Massage can assistance with relaxing and supporting immunity. I understand that massage is not necessarily accessible at the moment unless you have someone at home who can assist in helping you relax and rest with mindful touch. Alternatively, hot baths with epsom salts, relaxing music, mindfulness practices, progressive muscle relaxation techniques and self-massage may be supportive at this time.
Massage Therapy has resumed in Quebec, if you feel that you would really benefit from massage as an essential worker, talk to me about booking a massage (and compassionate sliding scale if you are facing financial barriers). I do write health insurance receipts.
Nourishment - whether with food, connection, sunshine, spirituality or other stimuli, what is going to nourish and support you right now? Make time and space for it. Ask for it. Take what you need. Give what you can. We may be in lockdown and various levels of isolation and social distance, but there is still a big community of people willing to step up, help and support you too.
Sleep - Rest while you can. Recharge before you become exhausted. Your health and well being is important too.
Thank you for all that you do!
In love and solidarity in the healing of our world, sincerely be well,
Raven is a licensed massage therapist and teacher; currently self-isolating and applying her other skills to address the social health challenges of the pandemic. Her knowledge of health, wellness and trauma comes mainly from massage therapy and bodywork, however, she has also completed World Health Organization training to support public health knowledge of COVID-19, country preparedness and response and studied Communications and Sociology with a public health focus at Simon Fraser University.
Some Key References & Further Information:
For more about Staying Healthy In The Midst of Pandemic
8 Self-Care Tips and Tactics that You Can Implement Right Now | Impact Theory