According to the Ministry of Health in Kenya, some of those battling Covid-19 pandemic including the health workers can at one point experience burnout. These are the signs of burnout as per the Ministry of Health.
- Sadness, depression, or apathy.
- Easily frustrated.
- Blaming of others, irritability.
- Lacking feelings, indifferent.
- Isolation or disconnection from others.
- Poor self-care (hygiene).
- Tired, exhausted or overwhelmed.
- Feeling like: A failure or nothing you can do will help or you are not doing your job well or you need alcohol/other drugs to cope.
This can degenerate to Secondary Traumatic Stress.
What are the signs of this?
- Excessively worry or fear about something bad happening.
- Easily startled, or “on guard” all of the time.
- Physical signs of stress (e.g. racing heart).
- Nightmares or recurrent thoughts about the traumatic situation.
What should you do if experiencing these signs?
Develop a Buddy System
- In a buddy system, two responders partner together to support each other, and monitor each other’s stress, workload, and safety.
- Get to know each other: Talk about background, interests, hobbies, and family. Identify each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Keep an eye on each other: Try to work in the same location if you can. Set up times to check-in with each other. Listen carefully and share experiences and feelings.
- Acknowledge tough situations and recognize accomplishments, even small ones.
- Offer to help with basic needs such as sharing supplies and transportation.
- Monitor each other’s workloads.
- Encourage each other to take breaks.
- Share opportunities for stress relief (rest, routine sleep, exercise, and deep breathing).
- Communicate your buddy’s basic needs and limits to leadership – make your buddy feel “safe” to speak up.
Responder Self-Care Techniques:
- Limit working hours to no longer than 12-hour shifts.
- Work in teams and limit amount of time working alone.
- Write in a journal.
- Talk to family, friends, supervisors, and teammates about your feelings and experiences.
- Practice breathing and relaxation techniques.
- Maintain a healthy diet and get adequate sleep and exercise.
- Know that it is okay to draw boundaries and say “no.”
- Avoid or limit caffeine and use of alcohol.
It is important to remind yourself that:
- It is not selfish to take breaks.
- The needs of survivors are not more important than your own needs and well-being.
- Working all the time does not mean you will make your best contribution.
- There are other people who can help in the response.