How healthcare workers can take care of their mental health during COVID

How healthcare workers can take care of their mental health during COVID

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we work, live, socialise, shop and travel on a scale we would never have thought.

Working in healthcare is demanding on any day, but with the pressure COVID-19 brings, it is more important now than ever to look after our mental health and well-being. Many healthcare workers have worked extremely long hours and under extreme high pressure. Many would have also been exposed to traumatic situations or faced with moral dilemmas as result of poor staffing levels, lack of proper equipment or confusion with new guidelines. The risk of long-term psychological issues arising from such situations is worrying for healthcare workers.

It’s natural for anyone working in the healthcare industry today to feel anxious and stressed, it is one of the most challenging industries and one that is faced with constant change and uncertainty.

Follow our five steps to help healthily cope with stress. 

1. Talk
mental health health workers talking


Never has talking been more important. Everyone is going through change as a result of COVID-19. Talking helps to ease your worries and help you see things from a different point of view.
If you are feeling worried, scared or helpless at work, have a chat with your manager or a member of the senior team, it will help them see things from view and provide the support you require. If you don’t feel confident to be able to do that, there are people you can speak to via NHS recommended helplines.

Talking to close friends and family is also good as they can help to give you advice and sometimes it’s nice to talk to people outside of your work without the fear of being judged or worry about any implications your concerns may have.

It’s equally important to keep talking to your students and check-in with them of how they are feeling. Young minds are constantly developing and taking in new information, however many of them won’t have the emotional capacity to handle or healthily process this.

If you can encourage all the staff to adopt the same practices, it can help the well-being of the whole workplace.

2. Stay connected
mental health video calling


You may find yourself locked away due to the ever-increasing number of restrictions and overtime find that you are out of touch with friends and family. Technology surrounds us, so there are lots of ways you can remain connected. WhatsApp, video calls via Zoom, Skype, Google Duo and Facetime to name just a few and various social media platforms can all help you from feeling isolated. And, if social media becomes too overwhelming then it’s okay to disconnect for a while. 

3. Stick to a routine
cleaning


Whilst there is disruption around us, you must stick to a normal routine. Do the things you would usually do (as much as the restrictions allow). This includes keeping on top of basic things like shopping, cleaning, laundry, eating, sleeping and exercising. If you keep up with the little things, you’ll be able to handle new changes and extra tasks that come your way.

 4. Don’t be hard on yourself

mental health be kind to yourself
Each day we are all facing new situations, no-one knows what the future holds, all we can do is our best. As a healthcare professional you are fully trained, qualified and experienced so never doubt yourself. You wouldn’t be hard on your patients when you are treating and supporting them, so why be hard on yourself?

If you find yourself having to take on more responsibilities, or work a different way. i.e. treating patients via online videos, try to keep what you are doing simple. Don’t over complicate your work or do things that are not necessary, keeping to the basics will help keep the pressure off yourself.

5. Take time out for yourself
mental health plan time for yourself mental health puzzle


Regularly taking some time out for your physical well-being is vital.
Find a few minutes in the day for a bit of peace or get some fresh air. Even if it means taking 10 minutes out to eat lunch without having any distractions around you. this will do wonders in easing your mind, refocus and help to keep you calm and in control.

When you’re not at work, it’s important to take your mind of ‘work’ by finding something to distract yourself with. There are lots of things you can do which don’t require a lot of investment, such as:
- Going for walks, bicycle rides or even a class at the gym. If going out is not an option; join a fitness class online
- Jigsaw puzzles – doing a bit at a time will give you the motivation to complete it
- Painting, making a collage, embroidery, pottery
- Playing an instrument – there are lots of tutorials on YouTube
- Cooking, learning a new dish or just experimenting with different foods. There are tonnes of social media groups, recipes and videos online showing you step by step guides

Whatever you do, remember the time is for you, no one else. It’s tempting to keeping looking at our phones, to stop temptation, switch off your phone and leave it another room.

 

We all need time to reflect, relax and recharge; after all, we’re only human.

 

Further guidance and support can be found by visiting the following websites.

The government’s guidance on mental health and well-being - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-public-on-mental-health-and-wellbeing?priority-taxon=774cee22-d896-44c1-a611-e3109cce8eae

Macmillan Cancer Support - Emotional Health and Well-Being for Health and Social Care Professionals - https://www.macmillan.org.uk/coronavirus/healthcare-professionals/mental-health-and-wellbeing-support

MIND is a leading mental health charity that provides support to anyone experiencing mental health problems - https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus/coping-as-a-key-worker/

NHS practitioner help supports the well-being of all NHS staff  - https://www.practitionerhealth.nhs.uk/covid-19-workforce-wellbeing

Royal College of Nursing has published COVID-19 guidance on mental health care delivery - https://www.rcn.org.uk/clinical-topics/mental-health/covid-19-guidance-on-mental-healthcare-delivery

 

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