How the Pandemic Has Affected Job Related Stress

Image of a guy that is stressed out at his computer.
on 27 April 2020
  • stress awareness
  • pandemic
  • coping mechanisms

It is no secret that the pandemic has affected all of us in one way or another, especially when it comes to our jobs. This can be anything from constant policy changes, wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) everyday, or teaching students virtually. These changes happened suddenly due to the pandemic and have caused employees new stressors in their jobs that may not have been there otherwise.

With these new stressors, it is important to identify them and find effective ways to cope with them. In order to find out what some of these new job stressors may be, we interviewed several people in different industries including healthcare, education, religion, and entrepreneurship. In these interviews we asked questions related to changes and stressors that were caused by the pandemic, how each person is coping with the changes and stressors, and tips that they may have for someone experiencing the same or similar stresses with their job.

Below you will find the individual interviews that we did and the responses. We are hoping that the responses we received will help provide others with coping mechanisms and tips for dealing with the same stressors. All interviews are anonymous for participants' privacy, but their job title is included.


HEALTHCARE INTERVIEWS

  1. What is your current job title?
    Physicians Assistant-Certified (PA-C) in Urgent Care and Emergency Department setting

  2. What geographic area do you currently work in?
    Surrounding Dayton, OH suburbs

  3. What has been the biggest change to your position since the pandemic began?
    The biggest change would be having to triage and test patients in their cars as well as the overwhelming amounts of people coming in to be tested for COVID.

  4. What would you consider your top stressors related to your job that were caused by the pandemic?
    The increased volume of patients in upwards of 100 per day.

  5. How have you effectively dealt with those stressors or what coping mechanisms have you used to deal with them?
    This too shall pass! That’s the beauty of warmer weather as most viruses cannot thrive past a certain temp threshold. Just use this time to enjoy the people around you. Work out, eat right, your health comes first. Collect a sense of being humble. Times like these certainly creates a time to be grateful. Always, always, always have an emergency fund.

  6. Do you have any tips for other healthcare workers that may be experiencing the same stressors?
    Working out, enjoying my family, learning new skills and becoming self-sufficient.


  1. What is your current job title?
    Registered Nurse

  2. What geographic area do you currently work in?
    Maryland

  3. What has been the biggest change to your position since the pandemic began?
    I was furloughed from working in the operating room as I am normally an Operating Room (OR) nurse working elective surgical cases. I had to pick-up shifts working on the floor or in the emergency room.

  4. What would you consider your top stressors related to your job that were caused by the pandemic?
    Not enough personal protective equipment for staff, not enough information known about the virus, information about the virus changing every few days. The CDC making PPE guidelines less stringent for healthcare workers that we know to be unsafe.

  5. How have you effectively dealt with those stressors or what coping mechanisms have you used to deal with them?
    I started talking to my therapist more than usual through zoom sessions. I exercise everyday to get out my stress and started doing yoga.

  6. Do you have any tips for other small businesses that may be experiencing the same stressors?
    Try to take time out each day to do something to calm yourself. Meditate, exercise, dance, sing, stretch, talk to family, something!

  1. What is your current job title?
    Patient Care Tech – Emergency Department
    Advanced Patient Care Tech – Emergency Department
    Come June, I will be an RN for the CCU

  2. What geographic area do you currently work in?
    Butler, PA and New Castle, PA

  3. What has been the biggest change to your position since the pandemic began?
    The biggest change is the population coming in, at first no one knew what to expect so census was up. Then as stay at home orders were put in place, the census dropped and we got critical patients coming in. We had to be fitted for a PAPR, N95 mask to protect us from droplets. We now have to wear masks all shift. The patients have to wear masks as well to protect us and them from us. My job title stays the same, but I now work in our COVID unit and the Emergency Department.

  4. What would you consider your top stressors related to your job that were caused by the pandemic?
    My biggest stressor is the worry of bringing home this dreadful virus to my 3 kids who are little and always want to be around me. When I am at work I am fine; I care for patients with no worry of catching the virus because of precautions the hospitals have in place and the training about isolation precautions. My only worry is bringing things home. We want to save everyone. We put the patient first over ourselves everyday and when we come home it’s our family first.

    My new routine is changing before and after shift, coming home and throwing scrubs, shoes, clothes I drove home in, in the washer on hot with cloth sanitizer and shower before anyone can come near me. That’s hard – My kids are so excited to see me and I can’t even hug them now.

  5. How have you effectively dealt with those stressors or what coping mechanisms have you used to deal with them?
    My coping is soaking in all the love my kids can give me when I feel “clean”. I am doing this for them. I also cook when I go home to destress and go outside.

  6. Do you have any tips for other healthcare workrs that may be experiencing the same stressors?
    As hard as it is for everyone, practice self-care!! Take a hot bath, drink a glass of wine, go for a walk outside, talk with family through video, and love on your babies when you feel clean and safe. You’re doing a great job – it’s hard, but we are healthcare workers and it’s not for the faint at heart ♥

  1. What is your current job title?
    Inpatient Pharmacy Technician – I make IVs, and fill and deliver medications to patients and nurses. I stock up all of the medication machines for each nurse’s station within the hospital and I am also responsible for paramedic boxes that are filled with meds.

  2. What geographic area do you currently work in?
    Willoughby, about 25 minutes outside of downtown Cleveland

  3. What has been the biggest change to your position since the pandemic began?
    The biggest change to my position is that suddenly my whole sense of safety has been breached. I am vulnerable to a very easily spread virus and much more aware of what I touch, how close I physically am to others, and constantly practicing a proper cleaning process. The overall change, however, is that I never felt my life was in danger before and also the lives of my family.

  4. What would you consider your top stressors related to your job that were caused by the pandemic?
    The top stressor for me during this pandemic in my workplace is my anxiety over possibly contracting the virus. With positive thinking and doing my best physically to prevent it, my anxiety gets better. However, without conscious thinking, your mind can run with different possible scenarios as far as germs on every surface and it can take a toll mentally and emotionally.

  5. How have you effectively dealt with those stressors or what coping mechanisms have you used to deal with them?
    My personal way of dealing with my anxiety is two simple things I practice everyday. First, I take every measure possible to prevent spread, such as wearing a mask and gloves, proper hand hygiene, etc. Second, I give back control to myself and instead of being afraid of getting it and hurting my family, I tell myself that if I get it, then I will fight it and deal with it then. I will be okay and so will everyone else.

  6. Do you have any tips for other healthcare workers that may be experiencing the same stressors?
    My tips for others within the medical field is to stay positive and do your part. That’s just it. And the same tip goes for everyone else in the world. Stay educated, don’t overthink and stay away from unreliable sources online or fake news –Fact check. Stay in control of your thoughts and emotions, be smart, be diligent and be aware. We got this.

    Another tip is that when I get home from work I sanitize my vehicle as I get out and I have a robe and clean set of clothes set out for me at the door. I change in the basement and throw my used scrubs right in the washer, followed by a shower. This process has made me feel so much better with the anxiety because my worst fear is infecting my babies.

    Also, please tell people to wear masks! Wearing masks is not about you!! It is about stopping the spread. Anyone could be carrying the virus without symptoms and could spread it so easily. So many people suffer from autoimmune diseases, had previous illnesses, or are just much more susceptible to getting it and it could turn deadly fast. People please wear masks to show you care for others!

  1. What is your current job title?
    Home Health Physical Therapist Assistant

  2. What geographic area do you currently work in?
    Lawrence/Mercer/Alleghany Counties in PA

  3. What has been the biggest change to your position since the pandemic began?
    Increased regulations that continually keep changing to better protect our patients and ourselves.

  4. What would you consider your top stressors related to your job that were caused by the pandemic?
    Consistently keeping up with the daily changes in regulations and daily practices.

  5. How have you effectively dealt with those stressors or what coping mechanisms have you used to deal with them?
    Participating in my online wellness community –Huge life saver having a positive outlet and support system.

  6. Do you have any tips for other healthcare workers that may be experiencing the same stressors?
    Make yourself and your health a priority –Now more than ever you need a source for stress relief that’s positive and beneficial to your mental and physical health.



SECONDARY EDUCATION INTERVIEWS

  1. What is your current job title?
    I’m a First Grade teacher

  2. What geographic area do you currently work in?
    Sharon, PA

  3. What has been the biggest change to your position since the pandemic began?
    Having to teach class remotely.

  4. What would you consider your top stressors related to your job that were caused by the pandemic?
    Teaching online is completely new to me, so just learning how to do that in such a short amount of time is definitely stressful. Especially because I have a 2-year-old that I have to take care of when my husband still goes to work every day.

    I also have many students who think of school as their safe place; their sense of security, routine, food and love. The non-stop worry for those kids makes it hard to sleep at night.

  5. How have you effectively dealt with those stressors or what coping mechanisms have you used to deal with them?
    It’s really easy for me to be at home because I’m a homebody, but I know a lot of people are having a difficult time. I would say to keep your focus on the positive, what you can be thankful for every day. Always keep in mind, it could be worse. Try not to worry, even when it doesn’t feel like it, God is always in control.

  6. Do you have any tips for other teachers that may be experiencing the same stressors?
    I still make myself go through my morning routine and try to keep busy (the online teaching and 2-year-old help with that!). I also make sure I don’t stay in pajamas all day and exercise; I run 5 days a week and do yoga 3 days a week. The exercise really helps with the stress!!

  1. What is your current job title?
    Kindergarten Teacher - Public School

  2. What geographic area do you currently work in?
    Greensboro, NC

  3. What has been the biggest change to your position since the pandemic began?
    Everything! Not being able to see the kids in my class who I have come to love and trying to find a way to teach them online. Online teacher vs. classroom teacher are 2 totally different jobs. Neither is better, but I honestly felt like I was starting a new career.

  4. What would you consider your top stressors related to your job that were caused by the pandemic?
    Teaching 5/6 year old’s online when they barely know how to use a computer. I’m trying to keep it simple for parents (because I know most are working from home), but still effective for the kids. We were in such a prime time in Kindergarten where all we have learned was finally coming to fruition. They were finally really reading!!

  5. How have you effectively dealt with those stressors or what coping mechanisms have you used to deal with them?
    After the 1st week, I reached out to parents and asked: 1) What worked? 2) What didn’t? 3) What could help? Just like in the classroom, every child is different and we just have to find a new way to differentiate the lessons to meet their needs. Constant communication is key! Also walks –Lots and lots of walks! I am not used to sitting in front of a computer all day. That is not the job I signed up for. I have to step away get out in the sunshine and go for a walk to clear my brain.

  6. Do you have any tips for other teachers that may be experiencing the same stressors?
    My biggest tip is to give yourself grace! This isn’t the job teachers signed up for. We love our kids. We love seeing their face, interacting with them and seeing that light bulb go off when they understand something. All of that has been taken away. Try your best, give it your all, but it won’t look like it did in the classroom and unfortunately that has to be okay right now!!



SMALL BUSINESS OWNER INTERVIEWS

  1. What is your current job title?
    CEO the Rachel Z Realty Team w/ Keller Williams

  2. What geographic area do you currently work in?
    The Triangle and Triad areas of North Carolina

  3. What has been the biggest change to your position since the pandemic began?
    I’ve quickly transitioned into COO (Chief Operating Officer) creating and implementing new, mostly virtual methods, of conducting real estate, while staying compliant and adhering to state laws and mandates.

  4. What would you consider your top stressors related to your job that were caused by the pandemic?
    As real estate agents, we are selling a product that requires a person to be present and experience the product (we expect people to tour our homes!). That’s not happening as much now due to the fear caused by the pandemic.

  5. How have you effectively dealt with those stressors or what coping mechanisms have you used to deal with them?
    We are implementing more virtual tours, as well as listing more vacant homes.

  6. Do you have any tips for other teachers that may be experiencing the same stressors?
    Embrace working virtually, sometimes it is hard, but you have to adjust to the changing industry.

  1. What is your current job title?
    DJ/Entertainment Service

  2. What geographic area do you currently work in?
    Mainly North Carolina and Southern Virginia

  3. What has been the biggest change to your position since the pandemic began?
    All shows and events have had to be canceled or rescheduled (if available) for later in the year. Proms and school events will most likely not happen this year. Weddings and Public Events are being rescheduled for the most part with availability, but many bookings will not be able to be rescheduled.

  4. What would you consider your top stressors related to your job that were caused by the pandemic?
    No gigs! And I refunded “nonrefundable” deposits.

  5. How have you effectively dealt with those stressors or what coping mechanisms have you used to deal with them?
    Typically deposits are nonrefundable, but due to the situation and being a person that believes in “Karma”, for the deposits collected that are not going to be able to happen, I have refunded. Just in being able to do so has helped me cope with the situation by being able to help my clients. Not expected from them, but I put myself in their shoes. Leaving a stressed bride is a No-No!

    Happy Bride = Happy Wife = Happy Life 😉

  6. Do you have any tips for other teachers that may be experiencing the same stressors?
    ONE– Be prepared for anything! TWO– Never spend your deposits before the show…Ha-Ha-Ha…Easier said than done for many for sure! And always PRAY!



CHURCH PASTOR INTERVIEW

  1. What is your current job title?
    Lead Pastor

  2. What geographic area do you currently work in?
    Mebane, NC

  3. What has been the biggest change to your position since the pandemic began?
    Not being around all the people I pastor from week to week.

  4. What would you consider your top stressors related to your job that were caused by the pandemic?
    Changing the way we do ministry (i.e doing worship/church virtually, Life Groups virtually, etc).

  5. How have you effectively dealt with those stressors or what coping mechanisms have you used to deal with them?
    Just rest in my relationship with Jesus and trusting Him. Spending daily time in prayer.

  6. Do you have any tips for other teachers that may be experiencing the same stressors?
    Spending time in daily worship. Meditating on His Word. Listening to worship music. Contacting at least five people each day to see how they are doing and how I can pray for them. Encouraging my staff to do the same thing.



LOOKING FOR OTHER COPING MECHANISMS FOR STRESS?

Forbes.com has also provided a great list of coping mechanisms for stress that has been caused by the pandemic. The full article can be read here https://bit.ly/3cAtRbZ.


Stress Management Tips for Job Related Stress While Dealing With the Pandemic

  • Be confident in your resiliency! Evaluate your stress rationally by taking a deeper look. Focus on each stressor and ask yourself how you could solve the problem(s) related to that stressor. Tell yourself that you will overcome this and bounce back!

  • Learn to work remotely. Ask your manager what their expectations are from you while you work remotely and as a manager, ensure that you are clear with these expectations. While working at home, it can be very easy to work without taking breaks and even work more hours than you would in the office. Make sure that you are taking little breaks throughout the day and keep to a schedule!

  • Let employees know that you care. As employers, make sure that there is an open-door policy for employees so that they can voice any concerns they may have during the pandemic that are related to their work. This can also include employee engagement activities so that employees still feel like they are part of a team even when they are working remotely. Be transparent about what you know!

  • Self-Care is key. Keeping ourselves healthy is crucial at this time, so ensure that you are eating healthy and exercising. Even though gyms are closed, there are plenty of free online options for exercise and getting outside for a walk/run is certainly encouraged! Make sure you are connecting with your family and friends through video calls (Zoom is a great resource!) or even just email. This is a great time to pick up a new hobby or check off that to-do list for home projects as well.

  • Know that our biology is in overdrive to keep us safe. People are certainly scared right now about getting sick, getting family members sick, the economy, etc. We need to ensure that we understand that we cannot control what is happening around us, but we do have control over how we respond to what is happening.

  • Let employees know that you care about them during this time. As employers, help employees with the stress of feeling like everything is out of control by supporting them and letting them know everything is under control regarding the company’s reaction during the pandemic.

  • Focus on what you can be grateful for. There is so much going on right now that it can be easy to lose sight of what we should be grateful for. Take time each day to recognize what you are grateful for. As an employer, you can start a meeting off by asking employees to tell the others in the meeting what they are currently grateful for. Offer an example to get everyone started!

  • Always stay humble and kind. During this time, we want to ensure that we are kind to others and we act compassionately. This is something we can all be doing in our neighborhoods and when we are shopping at places like the grocery store. For employers, make sure to touch base with employees frequently, and try asking them what they may be concerned or worried about during this time.

It is important to remember that we are all in this together! Even with these new job-related stressors, we can all cope effectively with the support of our community and knowing that we are not in this alone.

MEET THE AUTHOR

Ciara Fischer Headshot

Ciara Fischer
Ciara Fischer is our Graphic/Web Designer and she handles our client facing marketing materials and our website. Ciara hasn’t always been a North Carolina native, but she planted roots here in 2015 after traveling over 8 hours from Pennsylvania with her husband, dog and cat. Other than creating visual content for Summit’s clients and communities, Ciara enjoys reading (mostly mystery/crime novels), hiking with her dog and husband, traveling and crafting.

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