According to the CDC’s guidance on addressing stress during crisis situations, an important first step is to monitor your team’s behavior and identify signs of burnout. Common signs of burnout include:
- Sadness, depression, or apathy
- Feeling easily frustrated
- Blaming of others, irritability
- Lacking feelings, showing indifference
- Isolation or disconnection from others
- Poor self-care (hygiene)
- Feeling tired, exhausted or overwhelmed
The CDC also advises practice leaders to be on the lookout for signs of secondary traumatic stress, or reactions and symptoms resulting from direct exposure to traumatic events. These may include excessive worry or fear, being easily startled or “on guard,” or experiencing physical symptoms such as a racing heartbeat.
Using a buddy system can help prevent some of these symptoms from occurring. Pairing team members together reduces the amount of time spent alone and pairs can help monitor and support each other’s stress, workload and safety.
The American Medical Association (AMA) suggests conducting a five minute debrief at the end of each shift with care teams to stay connected and provide opportunities to engage. For staff members who may be quarantined at home, setting up peer support “connection groups” via video conferencing tools can help teams support each other and address ongoing challenges.