Stress & Anxiety Among Essential Workers

Written by Raquel Nixon, Contributing Writer

5/22/2021

Studies have shown that essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic are not only more susceptible to being exposed to the COVID-19 virus, but are showing increased prevalence for mental health issues such as depression and anxiety (1). The psychological distress brought on by their likely exposure to the virus on top of the daily stressor of the job are bringing on negative consequences for those on the front lines. 

Essential workers have become our first line of defense not only against the virus but also against the total collapse of our daily lives as we know it. Not only are doctors, nurses, and other emergency medical workers working among the COVID-19 virus, but we are also relying on grocery store workers, bus drivers, mail carriers, and many other workers to continue doing their jobs outside of the safety of their home (2).

If you or a loved one are one of these essential workers, we commend you for your work in keeping our society running. And we hope that this may help to ease the burden of the stress and anxiety you may be feeling at this time.

Ways to Help Manage Stress and Anxiety for Essential Workers During the COVID-19 Pandemic

  1. Prioritize your own health. Identify the symptoms you may be feeling related to your physical and mental wellbeing. Recognize the symptoms of anxiety and depression along with symptoms of the virus and reach out for help when you need it. And don’t overlook the importance of getting enough sleep.
  2. Focus on your own needs. If you need space, support, rest, or whatever else in order to support your health, don’t hesitate to ask for it. You deserve protection and rest just as much as anyone else.
  3. Seek out help wherever you need it. It may be for dealing with a difficult customer or reaching out for medical or professional help. Find help wherever you need it.
  4. Slow down. Take as many moments as you need to slow down and breathe. You could try some breathing exercises to help relax. Whatever you need to do to help yourself calm down, take the time and do it.
  5. Talk about your experience. Let your employer know how you’re feeling, or talk to friends and loved ones about your experience. Talking can help ease the burden of the stress you deal with on a daily basis.

Even if you aren’t an essential worker, you can do your part to help those who are. Follow social distancing guidelines, wear a mask, wash your hands often and be considerate of those who are sacrificing their own physical and mental health to keep our society running as it is. 

References 

Depression, Anxiety, and Lifestyle Among Essential Workers: A Web Survey From Brazil and Spain During the COVID-19 Pandemic. (2020, October 1). PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7641648/#:%7E:text=Essential%20workers%20have%20been%20shown,risk%20for%20mental%20health%20disorders.

Staff, J. C. (2020, June 6). 5 Ways Essential Workers Can Manage Trauma and Anxiety During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Jefferson Center – Mental Health and Substance Use Services. https://www.jcmh.org/5-ways-essential-workers-can-manage-trauma-and-anxiety-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/

Published by Counseling With Leslie

Leslie Stevens, M.Ed., LCMHC is a North Carolina and Virginia board-certified licensed professional counselor. She co-owns a successful practice in Carrboro, North Carolina. Leslie specializes in helping adults navigate stress, depression, anxiety, and perfectionism. Additionally, she is a life strategist, spiritual coach, and writer.

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