Even superheroes need rest: A guide to facilitating recovery from work for health care workers during COVID-19 and beyond

Jennifer L. Hefner, Ingrid M. Nembhard, Bram P.I. Fleuren, Amber L. Stephenson, Erin E. Sullivan, Minakshi Raj, Maike V. Tietschert, Abi Sriharan, Alden Y. Lai, Matthew J. DePuccio, Samuel C. Thomas, Ann Scheck McAlearney

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The COVID-19 pandemic burdens health-care workers (HCWs) worldwide. Amid high-stress conditions and unprecedented needs for crisis management, organizations face the grand challenge of supporting the mental health and well-being of their HCWs. The current literature on mental health and well-being primarily focuses on improving personal resilience among HCWs. However, this puts the responsibility for coping with COVID-19-related stress almost fully on the individual. This chapter discusses an important alternative framing of this issue - how health-care organizations (HCOs) can facilitate recovery from work processes (i.e., returning to a baseline level by engaging in nonwork activities after work) for their workers. Based on a narrative review of the occupational health psychology literature, we provide practical strategies for supporting the four key recovery experiences of detachment, control, mastery, and relaxation, as well as present general recommendations about how to promote recovery. These strategies can help HCOs facing the grand challenge of sustaining worker well-being and functioning during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as during future pandemics and for workers facing high work pressure in general.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Contributions of Health Care Management to Grand Health Care Challenges
EditorsJennifer L Hefner, Ingrid M Nembhard
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781801178006
ISBN (Print)9781801178013
StatePublished - Dec 6 2021

Publication series

NameAdvances in Health Care Management
ISSN (Print)1474-8231


  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • health-care workers
  • occupational health psychology
  • personal resilience
  • recovery experiences
  • Recovery from work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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