Essential workers have found themselves in the spotlight and on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic. This time has caused us to take a deeper look at what an essential worker is… What at one point was healthcare workers and first responders, now includes even more workers – those working in grocery stores, restaurants, manufacturing, delivery, and more are all now included in this group of workers.
These essential workers are facing an increased amount of stress and anxiety. Garrett Counseling’s Clinical Director, Ginger Caudell, helps clients with anxiety, stress, and depression, and she offers great insight to the concerns these workers are facing. She says, “Essential worker concerns range from the people who are working at low wages while they face the virus being passed from co-workers in production settings to more highly paid medical professionals who deal with COVID being passed from their patients. Either way, worries about being sick is an issue.” Fear of contracting the virus and facing terrible symptoms or death seems to be a concern for everyone, but the fear is certainly heightened for older individuals.
While concern for health is a primary concern for essential workers, other stressors during this time include difficulty finding childcare and financial strain. Even as public childcare options reopen, public health guidelines make availability limited. For those who rely on grandparents to care for children, there is the added concern that grandparents fall into the category of those at high risk if they contract the virus. Financially speaking, there is the worry of getting sick if one goes into work but the worry of not being about to pay bills if one stays home. Ginger says, “It is highly anxiety evoking to be scared of getting sick when you go to work while also being scared of not going to work all occurring at the same time. It does seem to indicate a new type of injustice when the people with the lowest income are the least able to worry about the virus, but instead to worry about the aftermath of the virus.”
So, how can essential workers cope with the stress they are facing? Engage in healthy activities (such as keeping a consistent sleep schedule when possible and getting fresh air each day), stay connected with friends and family, and seek help when needed are a few ways!
Maybe you are reading this, and you are not an essential worker but someone you love is. Two important ways you can support your loved one is to listen and stay connected. Take the time to reach out to ask how they are doing and really listen to what they say!
At Garrett Counseling, we are committed to helping our clients navigate these unique times. If we can help you, please reach out to your counselor or contact us for more information.