Coming into close contact with the sick forced many nurses to live apart from their families and loosen social ties that had buoyed them before, according to Stephanie Zerwas, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina, who established a free therapy program for health care workers during the pandemic.
Those coffee chats, post-work drinks and other gatherings — all gone now — have never meant so much.
In the beginning of the pandemic, Zerwas said many nurses found motivation in the nationwide shows of support and gratitude for frontline workers — the nightly rounds of applause across cities, car parades, casseroles and thank-you cards. But those gestures have largely stopped as pandemic fatigue set in.
Zerwas said she’s heard some nurses steer clear of social media, where they might’ve found a community of other nurses to vent to, because friends will share maskless photos of themselves socializing.