Q&A: Alleviating stress and anxiety associated with the COVID-19 pandemic
Q: It's easy for case managers to feel overwhelmed during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The workload has been burdensome for the past year, and many case managers are not able to strike the important work-life balance. What are some recommendations for alleviating some of the stress and anxiety that has built up over the past year?
A: Colleen Morley, DNP, RN, CCM, CMAC, CMCN, ACM-RN, president 2019–2021 of CMSA Chicago, says you may want to try the "mindfulness" strategy, a meditative practice that encourages a state of being fully present in the moment. By focusing on the present only, individuals can suppress worries about the past or future.
“Start by paying attention to a daily activity that you do on autopilot, such as brushing your teeth,” says Morley. “Take the time to notice all the sensations you are experiencing: the feeling of the brush, the taste of the toothpaste, the coolness of the water, how your mouth feels before and after. Or set a timer for one minute and pay attention to your breathing and all the sensations both inside and out.”
You can also practice mindfulness during your regular activities, such as a daily walk. Think about your surroundings:
- How does the air feel on your skin?
- How do your feet feel as you walk?
- What smells do you notice?
“Or use the classic raisin exercise. Focus on a single object (doesn’t have to be a raisin),” says Morley. “Pay careful attention to how the object looks, how it feels in your hand. How does it respond when you hold it, use it? Does it have a smell or taste? Look for the little imperfections present in all things and how they may enhance the object or take away from its function.”
You can even take a few minutes in the morning when you wake up to sit or lie quietly and focus on your breath and body sensations.
For more on this topic, see February's issue of Case Management Monthly.