ONTARIO — Janet Munoz of Ontario picks up the medical records left by the day shift and prioritizes her schedule of duties; medication administrations and vitals are her first tasks. As she heads for the hallway, her beeper chirps, indicating that someone needs assistance. Her workday has just begun, and it will continue long into the evening. If allowed, the stress of the lingering pandemic and her job as a caregiver could overtake her, resulting in burnout. But Munoz has an antidote: her faith.
The healthcare industry has taken a beating over the past 18 months. For those in the medical field, fatigue, anxiety, and despair can accompany an already demanding profession. An additional stressor includes staffing issues, leaving remaining workers exhausted.
Munoz has worked as a caregiver for 17 years. It was a career path that appealed to her because she enjoys helping people.
“That’s why I chose that job, because it gives me a sense of purpose,” she said. “It makes me happy to know that I’m making someone else happy.”
However, like many others, Munoz has had to adjust to unexpected circumstances and new challenges since early 2020. In addition to the already heavy burden of the pandemic, Munoz lost her father in June and due to the COVID restrictions in place at the time, couldn’t hold an in-person funeral.
Despite the weight she carries, Munoz has been able to maintain a positive outlook.
She credits her faith and the many resources she has at her disposal for helping her. One of her favorite tools is jw.org, the official website of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“There is so much advice I’ve received from different articles on jw.org,” Munoz said. “Practical advice like getting enough rest, eating a healthy diet, spending time with friends and family even if it is virtually, keeping a simple life and trying to focus on the positive.”
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.
“It’s always reassuring and comforting to know that we have that website,” Munoz said. “No matter what we’re going through, we can just go on and search for a keyword and it’ll come up with articles for dealing with anxiety, dealing with stress, dealing with isolation, dealing with burnout.”
Following the advice she received from one particular article dealing with isolation, Munoz makes it a priority to stay in contact with friends and family despite her busy schedule. Another article helped her realize the need to live one day at a time and not increase anxiety by trying to control things that she can’t.
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.”
Munoz finds joy in passing along to others what has helped her.
“I have shared these tips with some of my coworkers when I see an opportunity,” she said. “These articles help keep me going and give me the strength I need and the tools I need to deal with this pressure and stresses of my job.”