The COVID-19 outbreak has left families rushing to the hospital to have their loved ones healed by the healthcare frontliners, but after a long day, who takes care of our hospital heroes, the nurses?
This is the time for healthcare professionals to check their mental health and overall well-being as the daily pressure, anxiety, and stress continue to accumulate. As nurses, you also owe it to yourself to practice self-care measures on and off-shift, and we’ll help you with these 10 ways to keep your mental health in check during the pandemic.
Break from news. Watch less TV to avoid COVID-19 information overload. The pandemic is stressing enough as it is, and hearing about the virus from every news outlet and social media platform will only increase your anxiety. Consider finding another source of medical news; one that’s sure to be accurate.
Stay connected. Nurses are part of the frontline medical force which deals with the fear of COVID-19 everyday. A big portion of their day is spent treating sick patients, so it’s important to talk to family and friends every now and then to release tension. Organize Zoom chats and video conferences. If possible, set simple dates as face-to-face interactions are proven to be more effective with preventing depression and anxiety.
Up and about! The work pressure that nurses have to bear piles up with the pandemic anxiety. To relieve this, be one with nature and go for a run or even a hike as most hiking areas are not temporarily closed to the public. Studies show that physical activities can improve perceptions of pain and fatigue from work. You can even invite a friend as a means of catching up and bonding.
The best medicine. No joke, but don’t pass up on a good laugh as this offers many benefits that relieve anxiety and stress. Laughing produces oxytocin, the feel-good hormone, thereby reducing depression and calming one’s nerves. Watch funny movies or videos, or share a joke with your friends to spread the good vibes around.
Don’t hate, meditate! Yoga is proven to reduce perceived mental pressure and increase focus among ICU nurses over an 8-week period. And since we’re in the Digital Age, one can meditate at home with the guide of YouTube videos, online consultations, and even ready-to-install apps on your phone’s App Store or Play Store.
You are what you eat. The right diet helps boost immunity. Some of these foods are citrus fruits for vitamin C, leafy greens which contain rich antioxidants, and yogurt for digestive and heart health. Medical professionals guide patients on how to eat healthy, and in times like this, it’s important that they follow their own advice to ensure their well-being and immunity against the virus.
Therapy. Families and friends of frontliners are supportive but they don’t always understand nurses’ struggles in the workplace. This is a reminder that it’s okay to ask for professional help such as those offered by therapists. This will allow you to talk about your worries and consequently, you’ll be given a chance to understand how you can effectively manage these feelings of dread and anxiety.
Online consultations are all over the Internet, and there are apps that could help you focus on taking care of your mental health on your own schedule.
Recognize the sunshine. With the ongoing chaos in the pandemic, it may be hard to find something to be happy about. As an exercise, try to come up with three things you’re grateful for today, and the more silver linings you see, the more you surround yourself in positivity even in challenging times. Make it a habit to smile (even under your face mask).
Keep a clean home. Your home is a reflection of your mind. Sometimes, the other way around. Keep your home spic and span by maintaining the orderliness and the cleanliness of everything inside. Remember – if you can’t do it yourself, call for help. A great example would be this company that does mold inspection in Toms River.
Ask for help. Nurses are some of the superheroes in the medical field, taking on the pressures of saving patients everyday. But outside the hospital, nurses have different roles—a parent, a spouse, a breadwinner, and many others. You cannot always be the strong person that you are, and it’s okay. It’s a reminder that asking for help is normal. Do this by making a list of things your loved ones can help you with, like prepping you meals, donating PPE, checking on your children while you’re at work, etc.
This, too, shall pass. With the onslaught of COVID-19 on everybody’s lives comes the greater need to remind yourself and others that we will all get through this. It’s difficult to picture the positives in the future, but what you can do now is to assure yourself that in time, all will return to the old normal and everything will be the way they used to be.
Self-care is crucial for nurses now more than ever, and the only thing to do now is to focus on prioritizing one’s health in order to effectively take care of others.