It’s difficult, working in this field during this time. You’re on the frontline and COVID-19 is a real threat, adding a burden to your life in a way some people may not comprehend. Stress, worry and pain during this time affects your physical and emotional health, as well as that of your loved ones as well. According to a 2020 published report on MDPI.com (Molecular Diversity Preservation International) entitled, Mitigating the Psychological Impact of COVID-19 on Healthcare Workers: A Digital Learning Package, “Actions are needed to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on mental health by protecting and promoting the psychological wellbeing of healthcare workers during and after the outbreak.” These actions include the necessity for activities, psychological assistance and self-care strategies.
By practicing a few uplifting strategies and things to do, you can get yourself back on your game. We’ve compiled a list for just this purpose. Skim through these suggestions, many from in-the-field healthcare professionals, examine and determine which activities resonate with you.
- Assign a “NO-E” day. That is, no electronics day. Give yourself a complete day of no TV, cellphone, radio, or other equipment that could potentially pull you into a place you don’t want to be. Take advantage of the quiet time by relaxing. If you can’t pull off an entire day, try an hour or two instead.
- Limited news intake. Don’t read or watch news for a designated amount of time, (or perhaps a full day). It’s good to stay informed, but not necessary to have the latest external world doings floating around in your daily thoughts. Give your subconscious and psyche a break.
- Give up control. Specifically, relinquish control over things you know you don’t have control over…such as the amount of COVID-19 cases that continue to happen. Tell yourself, “I don’t have control over this, so I give up trying to control anything related to this. It’s okay for me to give up control.” Remind yourself that others are on the case, and that some things just happened, and don’t need to be controlled by you.
- Activate your heart center. Imagine something that makes you smile, such as a toddler’s adorable words, your baby’s first coo, the day you got the job of your dreams, a puppy or kitten…or anything that makes you truly smile. Try to hold this imaginative thought for as long as possible. Return to this thought several times throughout the day.
- Prep some healthy snacks. Design a nice healthy-foods charcuterie tray for yourself. Put a little zen into your prep work slicing apples, carrots, cucumbers, strawberries, melon, grapes or other fruits and vegetables. Add some cheese cubes, yogurt dip, humus, nuts, crackers, breads or other delicious tidbits and treat yourself.
- Write a letter. With pen and paper in hand, write a letter to yourself. List all the wonderfully abundant things in your life: “I am a strong, healthy, loving person and am abundant in creativity, love, joy, (fill in the blanks).” Make this letter the kudos you deserve for being a needed, courageous, hard-working, and strong nurse.
- Institute a So-long-Social-Media-Sundays. Or whatever day works for you. Don’t open your Facebook account, Instagram, Twitter or any other social media. Stay engaged with your family without checking your social media. That’s right, give it a rest.
- Play a board game. Round up a couple of family members and/or friends and get out one of your board games, preferably something not too challenging, but definitely fun, such as Life, Candyland, or dominos.
- Take a walk. A brisk walk will help to refill your energy bank. Don’t forget to bring your earbuds to play some delightful, energy-inducing music.
- Exercise for 10 minutes. Walk on a treadmill, do some jumping jacks, walk up and down stairs…whatever is convenient and envigorating.
- Meditate or simply sit quiet for 10 minutes.
- Read a classic. Maybe just a chapter…to start. Choose a classic you’ve always wanted to read. The Britannica has a list of 12 novels considered the greatest of all time.
- Start a journal. Or write in your existing journal. Here’s a prompt to work from: what was the best (happiest, exciting, fun, funny or interesting) thing that happened this week?
- Pray. This can be just about anything, from formal prayer to a mantra to a simple statement of gratitude.
- Spa day. Give yourself a spa day at home. Don’t forget to include some wonderfully scented candles, bath bombs or bath salts and play some soothing music.
- Do some deep breathing exercises. Practice some deep, soulful breathing techniques. Close your eyes, take a long, slow deep breath in, counting to ten. Hold for two seconds, then let out that breath, also in a long, slow exhale, counting to ten. Do this three times.
- Engage with nature. Garden, pull weeds, mow the lawn. Or go for an investigative walk outdoors. Taking it up a level, bring your camera or phone and create an assignment such as taking photos of leaf patterns or nature textures. You can then make a book of your finds using one of the many online photo books services available such as Shutterfly, Snapfish, Mixbook, etc.
- Video chat with a friend or family member. Zoom, Facetime, Skype…whatever works for all involved. Take some time to reconnect with a friend you haven’t been able to see in a while or call a relative you haven’t talk to recently.
- Go birding. Outdoors, take a walk outside and listen intently to the various bird sounds, songs, tweets and whistles. Notice the differences.
- Take a nap. Treat yourself to a 20-minute nap at your convenience. For a full REM cycle, nap for 90 minutes for a nap, after which you should feel refreshed, creative and ready to tackle the day.
- Do some yoga. YouTube has many beginners’ yoga exercises for you to try at home. Some video games also include yoga exercises.
- Ride a bike. Ride a path you’ve never taken before. Or simply ride for a solid 30 minutes, noticing the freshness of the air in your lungs.
- Watch funny videos. Another YouTube or TV recommendation is to tune into watching something that’ll make you laugh, smile or roll on the floor in good humor.
- Have a tea party for one. Make yourself a soothing cup of chamomile tea and sit someplace quiet to sip your tea and eat something scrumptious such as lemon bars, pieces of fruit or cucumber sandwiches.
- Turn to a creative outlet. Get your creativity on! Draw, paint, sew, knit, bake, cook, make a collage, put together an online photo album, build a birdhouse or toolbox, dance, read a poem out loud, or visit a museum or art gallery.
If Your Anxiety is Overwhelming
If things are more troubling to you more than you think you can handle, if you’re having problems sleeping or staying asleep, or you feel like crying, you may need to reach out for professional guidance. It’s important to connect with a someone who knows how to listen. Don’t be afraid to consult a therapist…they’re there for you. Sometimes the act of unloading what you’ve experienced during these COVID-19 times are best shared with someone who understands the intricacies of emotional stress. Nowadays, insurance companies offer telemedicine and along with that are therapists who you can talk to directly, virtually.
We’re in this Together
We are all experiencing this pandemic and its effects together, worldwide. As a person on the frontlines, you know how COVID-19 is affecting you, your patients, friends, loved ones and others you come across. Maintaining good emotional health is vitally important, and support is a call away.