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A Dietitian’s Experience Supporting Others During COVID-19

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By Sarah Roth, RDN, LD

If you know me well, you’d know that my personality is usually very go-with-the-flow, even keeled, and almost always optimistic. A lot of that has to do with my faith, and putting my trust in a higher power. Yet with all the changes and uncertainties this pandemic has overwhelmed the world with so quickly, I am experiencing a completely different side of myself – I’m experiencing such strong emotions of anxiety and depression that are so foreign to me…and it’s terrifying. Even my body has been experiencing weird changes that I can only attribute to stress.

As I am typing this out the tears are flowing, and honestly I can’t pinpoint why and where they’re coming from.

I worry about my family who I can’t see or take care of, my parents who still have to work outside of the house, my boyfriend who has roommates that don’t respect the stay-in-place boundaries, my roommate who is a pilot and is still being required to show up to the airports and fly across the nation all week long. 

With so much worry and anxiety in my personal life, I’m finding it especially challenging to be there for my clients. In this field as a dietitian where my job is so much more than providing nutrition education, I’m finding that my bucket of compassion, empathy, and sincerity which is normally overflowing now has a major leak in it – and I can’t figure out how to plug it!

I feel guilty for not giving my clients my absolute best. I get antsy staring at my computer all day, trying to connect with my clients as best as possible with telehealth options, and then having to stay locked on the screen for hours longer to document. I have this constant tightness in my chest that no amount of deep breathing or prayer can seem to shake.

The lines between work and home get fuzzier every day.

When does work end, and when can time for home routine or relaxation begin? My bedroom, which once was a safe haven I didn’t often have to bring work to now has my desk overtaken with books and electric cords, half-drank cups of coffee, and work documents that I can’t seem to escape from.

And all the while I scroll through the Facebook and Instagram feeds of people excited about all the extra free time at home to finish house projects, or fellow clinicians who are motivated to do more, put more content and encouragement out there, and brainstorm ways to keep their businesses afloat. Yet my natural instinct in all of this seems so different. I want to do less, I want to avoid, I find myself getting overwhelmed by the most simple tasks so I put them off for as long as I can.

It helps to open up and be vulnerable with my feelings.

How many times have you been told that if you can name your feelings, usually it can help you come down the very tall emotional roller coaster? And almost every time, it works. Just in writing this my heart rate has slowed, my body is more relaxed, and I have some semblance of inner peace. I don’t expect this calm to last forever – heck, it may not even last but 10 minutes! – but I hope in sharing my experience it has helped you find some insight into your feelings as well if you’re struggling. Perhaps some of this has resonated with some of you as well, and if it does, I would encourage you to reach out to me so that we can feel validation of our feelings together. 

Here are some things (other than Animal Crossing) me and the team have been using to distract ourselves and unwind after work:

Online Jigsaw Puzzles

Free plays from the UK every Thursday

Online Library

Bonus validation for you:

That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief, by Scott Berinato

My thoughts and prayers are going out to all of you – whether you’re in the front lines working in medical facilities, grocery stores or restaurants, other essential businesses, or working from home. I hope you all are staying safe and healthy.

Take Good Care,