This past year, life as we know it was turned upside down by the pandemic and many other external factors. Familiar routines were lost, and new rules were introduced, resulting in compounding feelings of anxiety and stress. Healthcare workers, especially, have experienced these feelings. Recognizing the stress and understanding how to properly manage it will allow you to continue to help those who are affected.
Calm the Mind and Body
As healthcare providers, our job is to focus on our patients. We have been called to this task as caregivers — not care receivers. We have had to answer questions never posed to us in this way. So, to be considering our own needs is a new challenge. What resources can we draw on to help us through this? How can we remain responsive to the challenges at hand without letting fear, panic, or anxiety overtake us? Below are ideas you can use to help calm the body and mind.
- Ask yourself “what can I choose in this moment?” Some of the things we might choose during these difficult times include courage, compassion, kindness, and self-care.
- Don’t focus on getting rid of fear; instead focus on inviting something else in to change your focus. Having ways of calming the body through meditation, finding some comfort even in the steady rhythm of one’s breath and the deep inner stillness at one’s core, can be very helpful.
- Planning for the future, anticipating potential risks and taking actions to prepare, is important and helpful. Incessant worry is natural but needs to be recognized as something that is not as helpful to our own mental health.
- Focus on resources you already have. Know that your inner resources are there for you to draw on as you need. You are more resilient than you may realize.
Restore a Sense of Normalcy
There are countless examples of how you can restore a sense of normalcy in completely abnormal times. These concepts can support much needed respite from outside influences including our over-reliance on media that often shows very little hope and resilience.
- Set up a structure — just like our patients need when they are in our care. Find ways to focus on what is in your control and the actions that you can take. Be specific about when you get up, go to bed, eat, shower, etc.
- Create balance with a mix of work, rest and leisure activities. A sense of balance between those activities that are required to sustain you and those that are satisfying do not need to be at cross-purposes. Fill your time with activities that you find meaningful and enriching.
- Set goals as frequently as you can — if not daily. Write down a list of your priorities and turn them into concrete and realistic goals.
- Identify what makes you feel low and avoid these activities when you can. A very important aspect of looking after your own mental health during this time is to identify reliable and trustworthy sources of information for updates, recommended actions and government guidelines.
Psychologists say feeling worried and anxious is normal, especially considering the events we have endured over the past year, but it can be managed. Here are some resources to help with mental and physical health.