Prioritising Selfcare and Mental Wellbeing for Healthcare Workers During the Coronavirus Pandemic
The are 1.4million NHS healthcare professionals working on the frontline in the UK’s fight against the Coronavirus.
Whether or not the Government is doing enough to protect their physical and mental health has been a highly contentious issue, and is dominating the headlines more, the worse the outbreak gets.
There is a strong case that says if these workers are not looked after and prioritised for testing, PPE and supported through this high pressured, extremely dangerous time, how will they be able to look after their patients?
The Government has taken some action including launching an NHS mental health hotline staffed by thousands of specially trained volunteers. These volunteers are on hand to listen to NHS staff and give them psychological support, or refer them to specialists in bereavement, finances and more.
The mental and physical health of health workers is an absolute priority we hope these simple techniques will be helpful for healthcare professionals to practise selfcare.
A common theme that many healthcare workers are citing is the fact that they feel so connected with one another despite all the challenges they are facing. This sense of togetherness and community is one of the major factors keeping them going. Keeping this sentiment at the forefront of everything, particularly during those darker times is key to raising morale, supporting each other and keeping the cogs turning in the system.
Recognise your triggers
This is an unprecedented scenario and there will be times where things will feel too much. This is no reflection on how capable you are or how strong or weak you are as an individual. Having self-awareness during these times will help you to manage your stress levels, your reaction to anxiety and whether you are reaching burnout. It’s also recommended that you don’t try to learn new coping strategies during this period and instead use the ones that have been effective for you in the past.
This is most definitely easier said than done, particularly if you are working different shift patterns. Most healthcare workers will be running on adrenaline and find it incredibly hard to switch off after working. However, rest is a vital way of keeping fuel in your tank. In your downtime, schedule things that will help you relax, focus on your breathing techniques and take time to do things you enjoy.
Avoid unhelpful coping strategies
It’s totally normal to feel overwhelmed at times but resorting to unhelpful coping techniques such as drinking, smoking or taking drugs will make this worse in the long term. It’s important that you keep an eye on your behaviour and how you are coping with things. If you’re keeping overly busy, not talking about your feelings, overeating or drinking to excess, these are all warning signs that you need to reach out to your support network.
Stay connected with friends and family
Many healthcare workers have made sacrifices to move out of their family home to prevent the risk of bringing the virus back from work, others have moved into care homes to mitigate this risk and to protect their residents. No matter what your situation or sacrifice, its still important to keep in touch with your friends and family via video or phone call or just a simple message so that you have a focus outside of your work. They will all be incredibly proud of the work you are doing, and it will boost your mood by speaking to them
Remember that you are only human
Working in healthcare is difficult at the best of times, but in the current circumstances any challenges or flaws in the system are amplified. There will be times when you are emotionally and physically exhausted and other times when you feel totally out of control and that there is nothing you can do. In these moments be kind to yourself and your colleagues. You are doing your best and the whole nation is appreciative of that!
We hope you find these tips to be a useful resource.
For specific advice for healthcare professionals please visit the Government website https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-guidance-for-healthcare-providers-with-staff-who-have-travelled-to-china