In efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, we are being asked and, in many states, ordered to stay home except when running essential errands or getting exercise. This is incredibly important for us to follow and not everyone can work at home. We have essential workers on the front lines of critical agencies, businesses, and healthcare ensuring that we have core services available. If you are one of these essential workers, one of your concerns is likely how to keep yourself and your family members safe and healthy. Here are some tips:
1. Acknowledge and accept your feelings
Write down the words that describe how you feel about being an essential worker on the front lines. Some common feelings include discomfort, fears, loneliness, guilt, anger, concern, and helplessness. Naming these feelings is key to building resilience and accepting these feelings may help you feel calmer.
2. Try this model to challenge negative thoughts: The T.H.I.N.K. Technique
- True? – Is this thought 100% true? If not, what are the facts, and what is opinion?
- Helpful? – Is paying attention to the thought useful to me or others?
- Inspiring? – Does the thought inspire me or does it have the opposite effect?
- Necessary? – Is it important for me to focus on the thought? Is it necessary to act on it?
- Kind? – Is the thought kind? If not, what would be a kinder thought?
(Provided by The Wellness Society, 2020)
3. Spheres of Control
Consider a circle with 2 layers in it, like a target. The circle in the middle is the “circle of control.” In this circle of control, you have ultimate control of this area! Some examples of the center circle areas include: eating well, connecting with others, focusing on what is important, the information on the virus that you are exposing yourself to, and seeking support. The middle circle is the “circle of influence.” In this circle, you don’t have ultimate control but may be able to influence. Some examples of this include demonstrating what you want others to do such as wearing a mask and encouraging others to do so. If a family member or friend wants to get together, state that you would like to do this virtually. Outside this sphere is the “outside my control” area. These are areas that you do not have control over and it’s important to acknowledge these areas. Some examples include: when schools, restaurants, and other businesses will reopen, events being canceled, and other people’s decisions.
For your loved ones:
- While at work, keep your items such as keys and cell phones away from contact with other people and reduce contamination. You might consider keeping them in a break room, locker, or on your person.
- Disinfect your keys and phone at least once per day and wash your hands before leaving your workplace.
- When you do come home from work, consider leaving your work shoes and other items that cannot be easily washed isolated and away from your family members. Also, change your clothing and consider showering to better ensure that you are as free of harmful germs as possible.
- Check-in with family members and see how they are feeling about you working on the front lines. Share what you are doing to protect their health and safety during this time.
To Your wellbeing,
– The MINES Team