January brought a new year and a new mood . COVID-19 anxieties found a new life . The patients who had been following guidelines , safely isolating , felt their resolve cracking . The prospect of another year of this dulled their joy , unless they stood at the head of the vaccine line . The prospect of vaccination inspired so much hope but having to wait months to get it was daunting . Some families came down with COVID-19 despite their best efforts and felt guilty for it . The cold outside worsened the daily sameness inside . People wanted to break out and just go . Complaints of worsening headaches , insomnia , hives and changing bowel patterns hit new highs in 2021 . My friends have described it as pandemic fatigue . One patient described it best , “ it just feels like the blues .”
As physicians , I know we are feeling the blues too . I recognized mine at Sam ’ s Club . I spotted an unmasked lady walking around the store with a pregnant , masked younger lady . Despite all our messaging , the constant stream of information , and the urging to protect ourselves , here ’ s this woman being reckless - with a pregnant family member ! I was just stunned and angry . Then there ’ s the transition between seeing these patients in the office or hospital , helping them deal with their situation , and having to collect yourself - again - before your next interaction .
We have been in a constant state of stress , the fight-or-flight on overdrive , and the adrenaline and cortisol working hard , now to the point of tiredness . The continued uncertainty of how long this will last wears on us all .
For those of us suffering from the blues , where do we go from here ? How can we rekindle our resilience ? From our conversation with Dr . Rebecca Tamas and Dr . Shawn Jones ( vimeo . com / 449853442 ), it ’ s making sure we are filling our own well and taking care of ourselves . Remember what is actually under your control . Maintain your own schedule . Taking this initiative for ourselves makes us better doctors , parents , partners and friends . One thing that really stuck with me after the conversation was Dr .
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Tamas ’ recommendation of 30 minutes of “ me time ” - no matter what , every single day . Your answer may be exercise , reading or meditation . Cooking , music , just wandering around outdoors or binge-watching “ Bridgerton ” or “ Mandalorian ” offer immediate escape and enjoyment .
The goal is to do it regularly to take care of yourself . Schedule it in your calendar to make it part of the routine . Next , find your sense of community . Just having a Zoom call with a friend or family member gives you an opportunity to reconnect . Creating something helps : art , letter-writing , photography , crafty stuff .
If you find that those strategies are not working , seek out additional resources . Don ’ t delay : we have months of this . For those of you at Norton Healthcare , Baptist Health and UofL Health , the Employee Assistance Program is confidential and allows us an opportunity to talk to a neutral , non-judgemental third party . For those who are independent , or employed , GLMS offers confidential counseling through Raskin & Associates at 502-394-9990 , with a person who understands doctoring .
Headspace is offered through the American Medical Association . There is also a free service called Physician Support Line ( physiciansupportline . com ) that consists of psychiatrists helping our US physician colleagues and medical students navigate the many intersections of our personal and professional lives . Ten Percent from Dan Harris is still offering a 6-month subscription for health care workers . Plus , check out this extensive list of discounts that national brands are offering to health care workers . https :// www . usatoday . com / story / tech / reviewedcom / 2021 / 01 / 13 / best-discountshealthcare-workers-and-first-responders / 6654606002 / Lastly , I keep reminding myself , we will all get through this together .
Dr . Monalisa Tailor is the Executive Medical Director , Primary Care for Norton Medical Group and is a practicing internal medicine physician at Norton Community Medical Associates : Barret .
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