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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.
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