“We thought we were over that,” said Sahra Gregory of the recent spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations. Gregory, a registered nurse in Tulare, recalls the emotional toll she felt working as a charge nurse while hospitals suffered staff and equipment shortages.
Many medical workers like her are exhausted from working through the pandemic. With variants straining short-staffed facilities across the country, some on the front lines are experiencing added physical, mental and emotional stress.
“There are a lot of unknowns,” Gregory said, referring to the rise of younger patients being affected by the variants.
In a time of uncertainty, however, Gregory explains how her faith as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses helps her maintain peace of mind. “There are a lot of things out of my control, but my spiritual routine is something I can control,” she said.
That routine starts long before she arrives at work. Gregory said, “I pray to Jehovah God for strength and courage to get me through the day.”
Regularly attending virtual congregation meetings is also a vital part of her routine. Seeing the smiling faces of fellow believers “melts away the stress,” she said.
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, Calif., 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.”
Gregory shares what has helped her and others. “As nurses, we can heal with medicine and skills,” she said, “but it is hard to help people emotionally.” Being able to share the Bible’s promises “brings peace of mind and helps someone feel better.”
One of her favorite resources is jw.org, the official website of Jehovah’s Witnesses, with its collection of articles and videos. About her strong faith, Gregory said, “It brings balance to my life.”