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Stress Management for Oncology Healthcare Professionals During COVID-19

Objective: To communicate simple tips of self-care and stress management with HCPs during COVID-19 pandemic.

In the unprecedented times of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, feeling myriad of emotions by the oncology healthcare professionals (HCPs) like distressed, worried, scared, disappointed, and anxious is natural. The oncology HCPs are constantly juggling between the demands at the workplace and personal needs. The need of the hour is their personal well-being and high emotional spirits to continue serving their patients and communities.

Tips for Self-care

  • Eat healthy. You can bring your home-cooked meals at work. Avoid or cut down on alcohol and caffeine.
  • Stay fit. Exercise regularly. At work, try stretching exercises or chair yoga.
  • Schedule your routine and take brief breaks for relaxation at work to calm yourself. For example, a 5-minute walk can boost energy and concentration.
  • Make some time every day to do something that you enjoy. Watch for any signs of excessive fatigue, anxiety, or irritability.
  • Try slow breathing exercises for few moments throughout a day. It has calming effect and helps to cope with physical stress.

Tips to Beat Cognitive Impacts of Stress

  • Focus on things that are within your power. Wash hands frequently with soap and water or clean using an alcohol-based sanitizer, maintain at least 6-feet distance from a person who is coughing or sneezing, and avoid touching your face.
  • Reframe any anxiety-provoking statements to evidence-based statements to reduce stress.
  • Depend on reliable sources for gathering information (e.g. www.cdc.gov and www.who.int). Limit news intake as continuous intake of frightening information can lead to more stress.

 Social connections are important to our emotional well-being

  • Stay connected virtually with loved ones, friends and family through social media, web, or phone.
  • Share your anxieties and concerns with your colleagues. Lean on each other for help.
  • Create social network group for support, especially in times of stress.

Reference: The National Comprehensive Cancer Network. Self-Care and Stress Management During the COVID-19 Crisis: Toolkit for Oncology Health Care Professionals. Available from: https://www.nccn.org/covid-19/pdf/Distress-Management-Clinician-COVID-19.pdf. Accessed on Apr 30, 2020