Caring for Yourself: Self-Care and Stress Inoculation

Caring for Yourself: Self-Care and Stress Inoculation

By Victoria Falk

The Chamber Coalition, which comprises the New American Chamber of Commerce (NACC), the African American International Chamber of Commerce (AAICC), and the Hispanic American International Chamber of Commerce (HAICC), celebrated Women’s Month by holding a Bootcamp focusing on Women’s Leadership & Wellness. One of the topics was Caring for Yourself: Self-Care and Stress Inoculation. Ms. Eveth Green, Family Nurse Practitioner with Advantage Care, was the presenter. She explained that self-care is essential and looks different for each of us. The Covid-19 pandemic brought about a whole new level of stress and anxiety. “We’re still seeing, two years later, the lingering physical and emotional impact of the pandemic,” said Ms. Green, “…a lot of patients coming in with a lot of anxiety and a lot of dread still.” Reportedly, some patients are making medical appointments for supposed medical ailments. However, upon further examination, it was discovered that their ailments were due to emotional stress and social issues. Therefore, “we at Advantage Care are thinking about ‘the whole you’ approach,” reported Green.

There has reportedly been an increase in hypertension, anxiety, and depression. According to Green, the World Health Organization recorded a 25% increase in anxiety and depression in the first year of Covid. Green explained that “…tells us that these things have already been around and are just now really compounded by the effects of the pandemic.”

Green confided that “as a leader and woman, there were so many moments of stress” in her life. As a leader, she was responsible for ensuring everything was in place for her team. “It was a very emotional, high-stressed time, even two years later,” recalls Ms. Green.

She stated that her priority was figuring out how to keep her patients safe, staff safe, and family safe.”

Overwhelmed by issues similar to what Green stated, with no outlet for their stress, many frontline workers resorted to suicide during the pandemic. Studies showed a significant increase in suicide among frontline healthcare workers due to the “adverse physiological effects of Covid-19 on healthcare workers.” Regular mental health screenings were advised to evaluate stress, depression, and anxiety.

But there are indeed signs of burnout that one can and should pay attention to. Some signs of burnout Green shared include:

“Fatigue, lack of motivation, poor self-hygiene, and being more easily irritated.” She stressed the importance of listening to your body and said that even if you can’t pinpoint exactly what is wrong, you know when something is off. “Our bodies are very good at letting us know something is wrong,” said Green. She said to seek professional help when “You cannot perform your daily activities, have thoughts of suicide, bouts of depression; feel hopeless, have difficulty sleeping, or find yourself having difficulty getting out of bed.”

Women’s struggle is real, and some women choose to suffer in silence because they feel guilty about having negative feelings about being in a caregiver role. She encourages these women to “give themselves grace.”

“There is no shame in admitting you need help. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to stop again and pause and say I deserve to be my best. Speak to your primary care physician, connect with someone, said Green.

Green noted that 2 out of 3 women are caregivers, and 70% of the global workforce is women.

Women already “…wear so many different hats,” she stated, and during the pandemic, if you were a mother, you became a teacher, a caregiver. You became isolated from working from home.”

Green discussed the importance of “pausing” to do self-care. She defines self-care as showing up for yourself – doing for yourself. It is making a conscious decision “…to tap into the moral and spiritual support, eating properly, enjoying time with friends and family.”

Green warned that caregivers have a natural tendency to put themselves last. However, she stressed the importance of knowing that you deserve to be your best self. “You really have to be filled up yourself. If you don’t have emotions for yourself, how are you showing up for others?” she asked.

Self-care doesn’t have to be huge to be effective. Green stressed the importance of self-care, even if it is “5 to 10 minutes before you go to bed to take care of yourself. It may be a phone call or a virtual visit to your healthcare provider.” She wants people to know that taking care of themselves is not ‘selfish’ and that they deserve to take care of themselves. “Even when there is no one else, there is still help. There are still resources and help out there you can leverage – even when you are alone.”

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