NNPA Newswire“I felt that it was never going to get better, that we were in this hole and we’re not going to be able to get out of it,” said registered nurse Marquelda Lewis of the ICU unit at an Alexandria, Virginia, hospital.
Many medical workers like her are exhausted from working through the pandemic. With variants straining short-staffed facilities across the country, some on the frontlines are experiencing added physical, mental, and emotional stress.
“I became very anxious,” said Lewis, who is the charge nurse of the ICU. Although the ICU is not borrowing rooms from other units at this time, they are still overwhelmed due to the shortage of staff. “It’s very sad, I feel like I don’t want to go back to work. COVID burned a lot of the nurses out.”
What pulled her out of despair in the early phases of the pandemic continues to keep her afloat. She credits her faith as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses for helping her and other health care workers in her religious community endure the ongoing toll of the pandemic.
“I see it all the time, the sorrow, the pain, those things will definitely pass away, even though it’s painful right now, I’m happy to see the words in the Bible come true,” Lewis said. “And I am able to be calmer.”
She also prays regularly and leans on fellow believers for support. Her family of faith mobilized with texts, cards, FaceTime, and Zoom to help her get through the crises and not to give up.
“The pandemic hit and we needed to be closer to one another, that definitely helped.”
American psychological and psychiatric associations, while not advocating or endorsing any specific religion, acknowledge the role spirituality and religious faith can play in coping with distress and trauma.
Lawrence Onoda, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in Mission Hills, California, noted some ways spirituality can help, including giving people “a positive hope and meaning toward life, comfort by looking for answers and strength from a higher power, and a collective shared experience of support and community.”
Lewis finds joy in passing along to others what has helped her. She joins friends online to write or call people in the community with a message of hope from the Scriptures. “It made me feel great, in my secular work I’m not able to do much, but when I’m able to share, give them comfort, the work is more gratifying,” she said.
One favorite resource for her is jw.org, the official website of Jehovah’s Witnesses, with its collection of practical articles like “How to Beat Pandemic Fatigue” and short comforting videos such as “The Resurrection – Soon a Reality.”
“It helped me to decrease my levels of stress that I was carrying,” Lewis said. “It helped me to have a more positive outlook, especially about work.”