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Fighting on the front lines of COVID, many healthcare workers also fight anxiety

Nearly everyone suffers from sleep anxiety at some point in life. But if left untreated, it can boil over into work and personal life.
Published: May. 12, 2022 at 9:21 PM CDT
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) - Perhaps no workforce has faced more stress and anxiety than healthcare workers over the past two years. Many of whom bore the brunt of the mental trauma of the pandemic.

“COVID completely turned us upside down,” said Nichole Mathis, a speech-language pathologist at Midland Memorial Hospital.

It’s been a difficult couple of years for speech-language pathologist Mathis and registered nurse Heather Hale.

Along with an untold number of healthcare workers, they have had to give extra during the pandemic, not just physically.

“I’ve had a really hard time sleeping,” Hale said.

The pandemic often made them feel helpless in a line of work designed to help as many people as possible. Anxiety followed.

“I only have control over a very small piece of this entire planet,” Mathis said. “And when I took in all the things that were going on that I had no control over, it made it even harder.”

Work began creeping into life and into sleeping habits.

“I would just ruminate on what I could have done differently,” Hale said. “What did I miss?”

It’s a problem counselors like Joy Blauvelt see often.

“Because of the anxiety they experience throughout the day,” Blauvelt said. “It makes it difficult for them to go to sleep at night.”

Both Mathis and Hale have sought counseling. They also work to find ways to forcefully unplug, not just from the trauma of covid but also from the vitriol aimed from the outside world.

“I’d have people who would send me really bad direct messages through Facebook,” Hale said.

“I have at time had to turn off social media like Facebook.”

Blauvelt says these small habits and routines can help make a difference over time, providing time and mental space to wind down. She also said that if the little things don’t help you with your sleep anxiety, you should get in to see your doctor and a licensed counselor.

Of course, it never hurts to make time to smile.

“Humor is a really important coping strategy,” Mathis said. “Will you say that for me?”

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