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To All the Nurses Out There – How Are You Feeling?

We just finished with the month of April, which might have felt like one of the longest months of the year. Many nurses and healthcare professionals were placed on the front lines, battling something that we have never dealt with before – a global pandemic. And while some healthcare professionals battled this pandemic from ground zero, others might have battled the crumbling economy with shorter hours, pay decreases and possibly been furloughed for some amount of time. With all these different scenarios adding up, you may want to take a moment to reflect on yourself, and then turn to your coworker, family member or friend and let them know how you are feeling.

So, ask yourself – how are you feeling? During this time of crisis, it’s perfectly normal to feel completely worn-out, overwhelmed, stressed, alone or even depressed. However, how you deal with or react to these intense emotions can make a big difference. In this blog, we are going to first talk about how you might be feeling, how to spot indicators of troubled emotions that might need to be more thoroughly inspected and how you can cope with your emotions in a more healthy and beneficial way to keep things going a little more smoothly in your life.

Are you feeling okay?

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In a world where we are constantly working to put food on the table, helping our families and friends stay healthy, and on top of that, trying to make time for ourselves, life can be tough and overwhelming. Sometimes it can be hard to stop the clock for a second and reflect on how you are feeling, or maybe even notice how your coworker is feeling. In order for business to continue on as usual, you may need to confront these feelings, such as depression or loneliness, so that you can adjust and deal with them appropriately.

So, what are some negative emotions that you might feel? Psychologists have narrowed these negative emotions into a few common types: Anger, annoyance, fear, anxiety, sadness, guilt, apathy and despair.

While it is common to feel these different, negative emotions every once in a while, it can become a problem when you begin to dwell on them too much and they start to interfere with accomplishing your daily tasks, taking a toll on your mental and physical well being. Research has shown that this constant negative emotion has been linked to harmful coping behaviors, such as overeating, smoking and alcohol consumption, as well as physical problems including insomnia, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and clinical anxiety and depression.

Working in a chaotic, stressful environment can also lead someone to encountering post-traumatic stress disorder, otherwise known as PTSD. Especially during times like what we are dealing with today, many nurses and medical professionals are witnessing first-hand some of the more traumatic side to the global pandemic, such as having a high death toll rate, telling families and friends about the loss of a loved one, or possibly dealing with harsh, cramped work environments. All of these situations would be hard for anyone to endure, and could leave any normal human being feeling down or depressed for a period of time – or worse – could leave someone with PTSD, where you will need to seek professional help to overcome it.

One of the more common side effects of long-lasting negative emotions could be severe, clinical depression, which is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. If you, or anyone that you know, is experiencing these signs or symptoms, you should try to seek help from a medical professional:

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness, or hopelessness
  • Angry outburst, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports
  • Sleep disturbance, including insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
  • Slowed thinking, speaking of body movements
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
Dealing with negative emotions at home or at work, are more common than you think. And with a global pandemic looming in the air, more stress and more negative emotions are impacting us now more than ever. So, how do we keep those emotions at bay just long enough for us to get through the day? Let’s discuss that now.

What can you do to help with these emotions?

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With everything going on during a normal shift in the medical industry, sometimes it can be tough not to dwell on the negative or get easily stressed or irritated and accidentally take it out on a coworker, or worse, a patient. That’s why it’s important to rein in your emotions and keep them in check while on the clock, as well as at home.

Here are a few different ways to cope with your emotions in a healthy way, according to research from a psychologist and relationship expert:

  • Don’t react right away: Whenever people say, don’t act on your emotions, this is an example of that. When you react immediately to an emotional trigger, you can make mistakes or say things that you’ll later regret. Before acting on impulse, take a deep breath and stabilize your emotions. Continue to breathe deeply for five minutes, letting your muscles relax and your heart rate return to normal.
  • Ask for divine guidance: Many people rely on their faith to get them through some of the darkest moments. No matter the preference, having a healthy relationship with the divine world could help you get through your day more easily. It’s been proven that when you believe in a higher force, it can help to teach you why something is happening or even save you from certain unwanted situations.
  • Find a healthy outlet: Finding a healthy outlet is a good way to unleash some bottled-up emotions that you’ve been holding back. If you have something you need to get off your chest, call or go see someone you trust and recount what happened and let them offer another opinion. You can also keep a journal and transfer your thoughts and emotions onto paper. Many people find it helpful to engage in exercise to help release feelings, while others may instead look towards meditation.
  • See the bigger picture: Knowing that everything happens for a reason is a good way to look at the bigger picture. If you can take a step back from the situation and look at the bigger meaning of why that certain situation is happening to you or what you can take from it, you can better understand and reason with it and not get so upset.
  • Replace your thoughts: Whenever you are confronted with an emotion that is making you feel or think of something bad, try forcing it out of your mind and replacing it with a different thought. Instead, try to imagine what the ideal resolution would be or someone or something that makes you happy.
  • Forgive your emotional triggers: The things that make us have emotional triggers could be many different things, such as your best friend, your family, or even yourself. An emotional trigger is that sudden wave of anger that you feel when someone does something just right to set you off. However, when you forgive your emotional triggers, you detach from the resentment, jealousy or the anger that’s inside you. This allows people to be who they are without the need for escalating emotions.

While having negative emotions aren’t always a bad thing, when left unchecked they can begin to take over, and possibly lead to a negative way of life. So, while it may seem like the world is trying to bring you down, just know that you’re not alone. Know that others out there are feeling just as exhausted and beat down as you are, and know that you can do something about it.