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Staying Emotionally Together When You’re Physically Separated

business woman on the phoneThe following is from healthcare and human resources professional, Dee Borgoyn…

How can caregivers on the front lines of the healthcare system and in their homes feel together, connected and supported when they may be physically separated and distant from their friends and those they love?  What can YOU do to help a caregiver in your life??

This time of COVID-19 is shining a spotlight on caregivers across the globe. Healthcare workers have been mobilized worldwide and are being stretched to their limits physically and emotionally giving care to those battling the deadly virus.  The crisis is impacting every type of caregiver — from acute care hospitals to home health workers, from senior living communities to those caring for family members at home. It’s hard to describe the depth of the emotions and stress that people are experiencing, especially when we’re required to socially distance ourselves for weeks on end.

Here is some advice I’ve been given by caring nurses and friends much wiser and more experienced than me, when I’ve faced feelings of loneliness, helplessness and exhaustion in tough times …

Most importantly TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.  Step away from the fear and news as much as possible. Do one small thing for yourself, regularly. Start or keep a journal, get your feelings out on anything you can find to write on. Turn off all noise and sit with the quiet. Let yourself cry; let yourself laugh. Get some sunshine. Listen to some uplifting music. Take a walk around the house or the hospital even if you think you absolutely can’t. Try not to think about things you can’t do and think instead about what you can.  Don’t think “if”, consider “how”. Know that you CAN do this.

REACH OUT TO CONNECT WITH OTHERS.  Choose the phone over social media whenever possible. Set a TV date and watch a show “together”, or even try to play a board game, in separate places (no cheating!). Write and mail cards and letters to friends and families. When you’re out of the house for necessities, driving or shopping for example, share a smile and a wave with the people you see. If you are at work, look out for each other, think outside the box, put aside any differences you may have had. Give and receive compassion within your teams. When you see a need give your co-worker a break — even if it’s just long enough to take a deep breath, or your shoulder for a short cry.

ASK FOR HELP. I know this can be very hard for caregivers, but if there ever was a time to ask this is it. Many people around you want to help, they just don’t know what to do.  So, at home, set some boundaries so that you can have some alone, quiet time — and make sure you get it!  Take a short nap or take a long bath or shower. Put a family member in charge of taking care of you.  Have a family member or friend do your shopping or run important errands. Ask your partner to rub your shoulders.  Ask if you can vent.  Whatever is it you need — ASK.  And if someone offers help — TAKE IT.

We will get through the current crisis — it will pass.

Caregivers will always be crucial and will always need our support and understanding. If you are a caregiver, or know one, please take these suggestions to heart.

We need each other now and always.

Dee Borgoyn is a career healthcare and human resources professional who has left the corporate and not-for-profit worlds to focus exclusively on developing the type of leadership that nurtures and supports caring, inclusive work cultures. She was disabled from birth and is passionate about providing a voice for those who otherwise may not have one, and ensuring fairness and equity for all people. Learn more about Dee and her services on her website (https://deeborgoyn.com/).