Caring for Caregivers During Crisis

by Kristen Ernst, LPC, Director of Grief Services

Self-care has become a buzzword among the helping profession for quite some time.  People are almost shamed into doing it.  Many times, we are told, “It should be a part of your everyday routine, and without it, you cannot care for others in the most effective way.”  So, as we move into an unprecedented time, it is essential to recognize that as most of us care for others, we have our own fears, anxiety, and worries to address.  Most of the participants of this publication are considered “essential critical infrastructure workforce.” So how do we remain calm and authentic in the same breath?  The question has the helping profession scrambling to answer.

I have spoken and educated others for quite some time that self-care does not look like chocolate and bubble baths.  In order to truly address the fact that your tank is empty, most likely, a square of Godiva chocolate isn’t going to fill up the tank again.  With the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more apparent than ever, that mental health is just as essential to maintaining physical health.  In fact, most helping professions recognize that there is a direct correlation with maintaining mental health and a robust immune system.  So how does the helping profession maintain healthy systems when they are more stressed than ever?  The issue seems overwhelming and unmanageable.  And when situations seem tremendous, it is important to break the problem down into smaller, more manageable parts.

Many are trying to homeschooling, working, keeping up with groceries, and trying to maintain sanity.  Please know that you are not alone.  Physical distancing can be isolating, but it allows us to take a breath, to eat mindfully, to play a board-game with our children, or dance in the kitchen to your favorite playlist.  Healthcare providers are now starting to differentiate between the terms physical distancing and social distancing.  Physical distancing refers to remaining six feet apart.  But is important to combat the idea of “social distancing.”  We can remain physically distant while getting creative and remaining socially connected with technology.

This is the time to turn inward and stop mindlessly scrolling through social media or watching the news that can be so anxiety provoking.  Decide to read that book that you have put off for 6 months or take a walk in a nearby park when the sun is shining.  Write your fears in a journal to validate them and mindfully choose to close the journal for a bit.  As you break this crisis into more manageable parts, it becomes more apparent that we have now been forced to deal with our emotions within.  Baue Funeral Homes is dedicated to combating those feelings of isolation and loneliness.  We are hosting a Online Grief Group on Wednesdays at 6:00 PM.  Recognize that the virus has caused us all to grieve, and we will continue to hold each other in support so that we can continue to help our community.