It’s pretty clear: Fear in care teams is real with the COVID-19 pandemic. There is fear of exposure and fear of personal harm while care teams are being called upon to treat patients, manage personal protective equipment shortages, testing challenges, and treating patients who are terrified themselves.
It’s realistic to be afraid of the uncertainty, stress, grief, and ambiguous loss as COVID-19 continues to restructure every sense of normalcy. And it’s evident that fear left unchecked can hijack our logic centers, motivations, belief systems, hope, and all the good things in life.
Three Ways To Tackle Fear
There are always things we can do to help mitigate fear contagion, no matter how simple. Here are 3 recommendations:
1. Make a team pact. If you work in an ED, a hospital, or an ambulatory environment, meet with those that you work side-by-side with to make a pact. Gather the team in a huddle or in a meeting. This can take less than two minutes.
Say something like this: “Our work ahead is going to be incredibly challenging and may test us beyond anything that we’ve done before. I want to make sure we keep an eye out for each other and look for teammates getting overwhelmed and frustrated. I want you dive in and help out however you can. We’re in this together.”
That team pact can be a powerful social bond that you were in this together. There’s nothing like shared challenge and tribulations to bring teams together. Just a declaration of a pack and lift the burden of fear and despair and loneliness that will definitely come to your team.
2. Bring faith and believe in each other. Say something like this, “I have great confidence in this team and what we’re capable of doing as a team. Let’s get this done.” That is a compelling signal in a huddle that can create hope and commitment of pride to tackle the work ahead together.
Consider what Henry Ford says, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you are right.” Belief and hope is always behind every great human endeavor and this is certainly no different.
3. Check your voice patterns while communicating with teammates. Fear and despair is contagious and if we inoculate our teams with hopeless language, the team could also become hopeless. Language patterns have a heavy impact on care teams, but hope structures our life in anticipations of the future and can significantly influence how we feel in the present. How we communicate and the words we use in a team will impact the team.
Reflection & Action
Reflect on the current climate of your team: How is everyone holding up? Is the team there for each other? Are they encouraging one another?
Consider making a team pact this week. This does not have to take a long time but can be a game-changer for your team. How would you present this idea to your team and what would you like the pact to sound like?
Supporting the well-being of care teams is more important than it’s ever been. Want to find out more about how you can help clinicians in your organization tranistion from surviving to thriving again? Visit Getting Started.