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Super-Charge Your Stress Management in the Age of COVID-19

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While the focus is geared toward those in high-stress jobs, this book can and should truly be used as a stress-help book for all people.

Synopsis

Managing stress when working in healthcare or emergency services is a constant challenge. SUPERCHARGE YOUR STRESS MANAGEMENT IN THE AGE OF COVID-19 offers a solution - fast. Traditional approaches to stress management while helpful are not enough for people who work on the front lines. This simple, easy-to-read book is packed full of research-based techniques that you can activate right now to decrease your stress in the moment, wherever you are, whatever you're doing.
You can learn and implement these techniques at home, or on the job. The quick activities are designed to share with your friends and colleagues and give you and your family go-to strategies to lessen your stress level and make you feel more grounded and confident as you get through a shift at work, make a trip to the grocery store, or navigate an argument with your family at home, with colleagues, or on social media.

After reading this book, Super-Charge Your Stress Management in the Age of COVID-19 By Mike Taigman and Sascha Liebowitz,¬† I keep dropping little gems of knowledge from what I learned to others. I refer to the text lovingly as, ‚ÄúThe Stress Book‚ÄĚ. There hasn‚Äôt been a few days I go without thinking of strategies I gained from this, or where I don‚Äôt say ‚ÄúI got that idea from The Stress Book.‚ÄĚ While this book is written from the angle of a long-time healthcare professional, and the audience is also identified as healthcare professionals on the front line, this book is essential for all people who feel stress. Yes, that means you. I wanted to read this book for a couple of key indicators right in the title: stress management, and our current climate: the time of COVID-19, where managing stressors feels more crucial than ever. So while the focus is geared toward those in high-stress jobs (who should absolutely read this), this book can and should truly be used as a stress-help book for all people.¬†

Taigman takes a physiological approach to stress-management, which is important to understand and know our bodies, so we can listen and react as necessary. There are so many strategies and tools for stress management presented, all which only need your body to practice. As Taigman dives into stressful front-line situations, he also gives practices, and the science of our bodies to help readers better understand how our bodies react to stressors and what we can do about it. Taigman explains how,

‚ÄúWhen we treat our body with care, we help regulate our parasympathetic nervous system, which helps us relax, and we support our immune system, both of which play an important role in how we manage stress.‚ÄĚ

If you’re looking to manage stress, you have found the correct book.

How relevant are these tools? How useful? It depends on what strategies you connect with, but I will note, while on Instagram, I scrolled by picture for a breathing exercise, ‚Äėbox breath meditation for anxiety‚Äô and I had to gasp a little. This was already my most-used strategy from Taigman‚Äôs book under a different guise! These exercises are everywhere already, some you may be using yourself. If not, there‚Äôs no time like a pandemic to take this book to heart and body. Like the mentioned box breath meditation, which Taigman calls ‚Äútactical breathing‚ÄĚ, the stress management tools include breath work (deep breathing exercises). Techniques approached also include cognitive reappraisal, The Can I/Will I Decision Tree, emotional resilience, stimulus control training, ‚ÄúGRACE: Five Powerful Relaxation Techniques‚ÄĚ, as well as a note regarding the Ornish lifestyle program. There is something useful for everyone, all between these pages. There are also explanations of why and how these exercises work in high-stress situations, for example with this breath work, where we can see how ‚ÄúThe mind calms. Breathwork is a reliable stress reliever for whenever we feel the tension begin to build.‚ÄĚ These exercises are not only useful in high-stress situations like the settings of hospitals or on the streets as Taigman often describes periodically to put readers into real spaces. They can be used as a daily stress relief practice, in our own spaces during this alarming time, which we can all appreciate right now.¬†



Reviewed by

Multiple higher education degrees in literature/creative writing/poetics. Current editor and poetry book reviewer for online literary press, Harbor Review. Enneagram Type Eight (The Challenger), able to promote and sway reader opinion with the proper use of high and low diction.

Synopsis

Managing stress when working in healthcare or emergency services is a constant challenge. SUPERCHARGE YOUR STRESS MANAGEMENT IN THE AGE OF COVID-19 offers a solution - fast. Traditional approaches to stress management while helpful are not enough for people who work on the front lines. This simple, easy-to-read book is packed full of research-based techniques that you can activate right now to decrease your stress in the moment, wherever you are, whatever you're doing.
You can learn and implement these techniques at home, or on the job. The quick activities are designed to share with your friends and colleagues and give you and your family go-to strategies to lessen your stress level and make you feel more grounded and confident as you get through a shift at work, make a trip to the grocery store, or navigate an argument with your family at home, with colleagues, or on social media.

Let’s Be Real: It’s a Battle

Why should we take time to increase our stress- management tools and training right now? Because we have more stress. COVIDovid-19 is putting us all in situations, repeatedly and , over time, both personally and professionally, that most of us never conceived of before now. We need to increase our internal, personal capacities to effectively meet the greater, external challenges we face with this pandemic so that we can remain centered and grounded, effective at our jobs, and positive about the future. And for this shift to happen, we need to super-charge our stress-management strategies. 

When you look at the data in recent studies, it’'s clear that the COVIDovid-19 pandemic is causing significant stress. The frontline healthcare workers in China who were taking care of patients with COVIDovid-19 haved shown a 54 percent% rate of depression, a 44.6 percent% rate of anxiety, 34percent% of them had insomnia, and 71.5 percent% of them experienced stress and distress.

A survey[BF1]  of 3,270 American adults conducted by Elon University found that:

·    71.6 percent% of them were afraid of a family member developing this illness, 

·    74.4 percent% were afraid of this pandemic’s impact on their personal finances, including their ability to make a living at all, the loss of losing their job, and the decrease in the value of their 401K, and their savings, and any stock market investments[RR2] [BF3] . 

·    59.3 percent% of them were nervous about spreading the virus themselves, particularly since you can be a carrier of the virus without showing the symptoms of being sick, 

·    56.9 percent% were afraid of developing the illness themselves, and 

·    29.3 percent% were afraid of having to go to work while they were sick.

These results are from a survey of people in the general population, not healthcare and public safety workers, not¬†emergency services providers, paramedics, firefighters, police officers, nurses,¬†and¬†physicians‚Äď all of whom we‚Äôd expect to¬†who generally¬†have a higher rate of these issues¬†[RR4]¬†[BF5]¬†than¬†regular civiliansdo.¬†Clearly people are anxious about their futures.

My friend Debbie is a police detective in a small Illinois town. Under normal conditions, her daily life is stressful. But now, it’s even more so. Her husband, who is undergoing chemotherapy for treatment of prostate and bladder cancer, has suddenly become even more vulnerable to COVID-19 because of his suppressed immune system. Debbie is terrified of catching the virus and bringing it home to her husband. 

An emergency medicine physician friend of mine had a young colleague, a previously healthy nurse in her thirties, who was having difficulty breathing while on duty with him.  Two weeks later, she collapsed on the job, was intubated, and later died in the intensive care unit from COVID-19.

A paramedic friend of mine who‚Äô's a single mother with two small kids and no other means of financial support is terrified every time a patient in the back of her ambulance sneezes or coughs¬†--‚ÄĒ¬†even though she is armored with an N95 mask, goggles, a face shield, bonnet, gown, triple gloves, and has the ventilator system in the back of the ambulance¬†turned upblasting¬†full blast. If she becomes sick or dies, she does not know who will take care of her kids.¬†

And I also know aThe critical care [RR6] physician described having with several patients who required ventilators, only to realize that there were not enough to go around. whose breathing status had gotten to the point where they need a breathing tube put down their throats, who realizeding she had more patients than they had ventilators for.  She was forced had to make the unimaginably difficult choices about who got the treatment and who didn’t.

These are real people whose jobs ask them to go into battle each and every day. And though I’ve never been to war and don’t pretend to know what battle is actually like, when . But when I see friends on the front lines, putting on their facemasks, goggles, face shields, gowns, and a triple layer of rubber gloves,I am reminded of the body armor that soldiers, police officers, and some paramedics wear to protect againstbullets or fragments of a bomb.  

In our case now, the¬†‚Äúenemy‚Ä̬†is a microscopic virus that is striking great swaths of people all over the world.¬†And for those who are first responders¬†‚Äď‚ÄĒ¬†in hospitals, ambulances, police cruisers,¬†and fire engines¬†‚Äď‚ÄĒ¬†it‚Äôs a reality that you could die if your protective gear does not work.¬†

The possibility of losing teammates to injury or death is also real.¬†¬†Anyone working today knows we need to do all we can to stay as strong and healthy as possible¬†‚Äst‚ÄĒphysically and mentally¬†--‚ÄĒ¬†for ourselves, our families, and the communities we serve.¬†And¬†althoughwhile¬†it‚Äôs true that every essential worker will experience some fear, the key¬†to¬†is to become aware of how and when we experience fear and channel it effectively.¬†

First, we need to understand that fear is both common and inevitable. We are hard-wired for this emotion to keep us alert to danger or possible threat. Second, we need to allow ourselves to feel fear, accept it, and not try to hide or suppress it. Our fear can protect us and can even save our lives[MT7] .  Knowing that fear is a natural part of our human wiring and the work we do in emergencies is part of the arsenal we can use to take our stress- management techniques to the next level so we can be most effective at work and at home. [RR8] 

Battlemind[BF9] 

These kinds of issues and life-and-death stressors have led some people to describe the COVIDovid-19situation we’re in as if it were a battle or a war. Some of my friends who’'ve served in the military are uncomfortable with this comparison. Others feel it’s an absolutely accurate analogy. As part of my research for this book, I explored the way the U.S. Mmilitary, the Army in particular, prepares soldiers emotionally and psychologically for going into battle and managing their stress during battle, so that when their service is complete, they retain the highest level of mental and emotional health possible.

I apologize to anyone who has served who might take offense to the notion that the stress associated with battling COVID-19 as a frontline worker is similar to the stress of combat that involves IEDs, tanks, rockets, bombs, and snipers.  My intent is not to belittle in any way, shape, or form, the service of combat personnel, but to help our frontline people benefit from an incredibly useful framework developed to help those who need to function at the highest levels while they’re [MT10] under threat of deadly peril.  

Specifically, I think that¬†our civilian nurses, physicians, paramedics, firefighters,¬†and police officers can¬†benefit from the concept of¬†Battlemind,¬†which was developed by scientists at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research to help¬†prepare soldiers for battle.¬†¬†Battlemind¬†helps¬†focus¬†soldiers¬†on the fact that combat is¬†intense,¬†and¬†potentially¬†[RR11]¬†life-threatening,¬†and¬†requires a combination¬†of both calm and alertness¬†‚Äst‚ÄĒthe same kind¬†of¬†super-¬†stress management¬†[RR12]¬†that people¬†working on the front lines of¬†the¬†COVID-19 pandemic or any other crisis situation require to do their best.

¬†[BF1]MT ‚Äď March 2020?

¬†[RR2]I‚Äôm having trouble with this bullet because the list items don‚Äôt seem parallel in construction. If you read it as ‚Äúwere afraid of‚ÄĚ the ‚Äútheir ability to make a living‚ÄĚ doesn‚Äôt make sense, and if you read it as ‚Äúwere afraid of ‚Ķimpact on‚ÄĚ ‚Äúlosing their job‚ÄĚ doesn‚Äôt make any sense. Can this be reorganized/rewords something like this?

…were afraid of losing their job and questioned their ability to make a living at all as a direct result of this pandemic; the same percentage were also worried about its impact on their personal finances, including the decrease…investments.

 [BF3]See changes

¬†[RR4]‚Äúwould be expected to respond with higher percentages to the questions posed in this survey than ‚Ķ‚ÄĚ?



 [BF5]See changes

 [RR6]OK? If not, can you rephrase so this is a complete sentence like the previous ones?


Great.

 [MT7]We deleted the weird non sentence and your comment with it.  Good catch.

¬†[RR8]This is not a complete sentence and I‚Äôm not sure how to make it one. Maybe remove ‚Äúso‚ÄĚ? Or is it missing a word and perhaps some punctuation? Please clarify.


Good catch.

¬†[BF9]This is not a header but a sub-head ‚Äď it‚Äôs part of Let‚Äôs Be Real‚ÄĚ Section

 [MT10]Delete thery’re .  I don’t care if it’s not grammatical I like how it reads.

 [RR11]check edit.  OK

¬†[RR12]later this term is hyphenated ‚Äúsuper-stress management.‚ÄĚ Which do you prefer?


Hyphenated please

About the author

A former paramedic, Mike focuses on helping emergency medical services, Fire, nurses, police, physicians, and other healthcare professionals take better care of themselves so they can take better care of their patients and communities. view profile

Published on June 02, 2020

Published by

20000 words

Genre: Health & Wellbeing

Reviewed by

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