Since lockdown in New Zealand on 26th March 2020 many shiftworkers are now working longer and harder than ever to keep our essential services going. For that we are all truly grateful. The cost for many however, is increased worry, anxiety and fatigue. This may be due to additional work demands, working from home, uncertainty about the future and strained relationships with people in our ‘bubble.’
What is worry?
Worry refers to the constant thinking or being excessively concerned about a particular problem or situation. When we worry excessively we often think about worse case scenarios and feel we can’t cope.
What does worry feel like?
Worry isn’t just in our heads. When it becomes excessive we feel changes in our bodies. This is known as the ‘Fight or Flight Response.’ Common signs of Fight or Flight include:
- difficulty concentrating
- difficulty sleeping
- feeling fatigued
- racing heart
- muscle aches
People today are worried more than ever about their health, families, jobs, clients, colleagues, finances, friends and their future. These are all real concerns that are best addressed with focus and a solution orientated mindset rather than unproductive worry. For many of us, worry is brought on by something we see or hear which triggers a negative thought and starts up the worry cycle. A start to managing worry and anxiety is to identify what the triggers are.
Common Covid-19 triggers
- watching the news
- looking at social media
- focusing on conspiracy theories
- receiving emails from the bank
- noticing empty streets
- walking past closed shops
- seeing people wearing face masks
- standing two meters apart in the supermarket queue
When is worry a problem?
Worrying right now is natural but if it is excessive and prevents you from sleeping or getting on with your daily activities it might be worth trying to find ways to limit the time you spend worrying.
Four things you can do to help manage worry and anxiety during a global pandemic.
1 – Problem-solve: Worrying is normally a very inefficient way to problem solve. So when you find yourself worrying try to turn this into useful problem solving by considering what you need to do right now.
2 – Focus: When we listen to the news it is filled with global information that we can’t do anything about. The single most useful thing you can do right now is focus on what you can control. You can’t control Corona Virus, you can’t control government strategies and you can’t control the world economy but you can control what you do here and now. This may be working, walking, reading, writing, talking, parenting, sleeping, gardening, cooking or any other activity that you choose to enrage in.
3 – Self-care: Clinicians often recommend self-care as a starting point. Self-care activities may include having a shower, doing your hair, using hand cream. These activities are nurturing and give your brain time to re-charge so you can think clearly with a solution oriented mindset.
4 – Sleep: Sleep is the best restorer. Shakespeare described sleep as ‘nature’s soft nurse’ so make sure you make time to sleep, leave you worries outside the bedroom, and use use a relaxation technique to focus your mind on something positive and relaxing. Most people find thinking about nature to be helpful. Read more about sleep tips for shiftworkers here.
Order – Getting A Good Night’s Sleep – by Fiona Johnston here.
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SLEEP BETTER, FEEL BETTER, WORK BETTER