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Nursing and Stress. Do you feel isolated? You are not alone

Updated: Dec 8, 2023


Nurses and Stress. Nurses 'felt isolated' during the height of the pandemic

Many studies have revealed that nurses felt isolated during the pandemic. They were thrust into an unknown situation with an unknown end and in many cases felt left to ‘just get on with it'.


Studies have found support for nurses' mental health to have been lacking during the height of the pandemic leaving nurses feeling isolated and not wanting to burden their colleagues or managers with their anxieties and stress as they knew that everyone was experiencing the same effects of the pandemic.


This lack of support has led to a demotivated, burnt-out workforce with reports of some nurses considering leaving the profession.




Nurses' involvement with end-of-life care

Many nurses, pre-pandemic, may have seen little of end-of-life patients. The rapidly spreading and unknown nature of Covid 19 meant that at the start of the pandemic nurses were being redeployed to support critically ill patients in the new Covid wards.


These changes had a significant emotional impact on nurses with over half stating they had treated more end-of-life patients than usual during 2020. This left nurses feeling isolated, drained, and anxious about going to work.



Why did nurses feel isolated?

There are various reasons why nurses felt isolated, some of these experiences include:


● Feeling unable to talk to loved ones about the stresses at work

● Isolating themselves from loved ones as nurses felt the pressure to keep their loved ones safe, dreading bringing the virus into their own homes.

● Feeling a disconnect from patients as they had to wear full PPE and tried to keep a safe distance away where possible.

● A disconnection from patients when discussing health issues over the phone rather than face-to-face.

● Moving departments meant working with people you didn’t know so less likely to raise anxieties or struggles.




The impacts of feeling isolated

The impacts of feeling isolated during the pandemic are still being felt by some people. PTSD can take time to overcome and can involve both medication and therapy. The main feelings of isolation should have disappeared quickly once life began to return to ‘normal’ and the world opened its doors once more.


Some of the impacts of isolation include:

● Disrupted sleep

● Anxiety

● Negative feelings towards work

● Depression

● PTSD


It has been noted that nurses failed during the first wave of the pandemic and that more could and should have been done to support their mental health. More still needs to be done to right the wrongs caused by the pandemic and it is feared that if changes aren’t made soon. Nurses that are burnt out and suffering the effects of isolation and other mental struggles from the last two years will begin to leave the profession.


 


Reflection

  1. Did you feel isolated during the pandemic?

  2. What did you do to combat the feeling of isolation?

  3. Did you feel able to seek help at work or from colleagues? If not, why not?


References



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