Physicians, nurses, and health care workers all over the country are working tirelessly to combat the COVID-19 situation by caring for patients while adapting to rapidly-changing guidelines about the best ways to prevent infection.
In these unprecedented and uncertain times, the high demand for specialized care coupled with the general stresses of working in a healthcare setting can cause anxiety not only for patients, but for the caregivers and hospital workers on the front lines of this pandemic.
Now more than ever, it is critical for health care workers to know how to prioritize their own physical, mental, and emotional health as they continue to care for others.
Eat Well, and Get Enough Sleep
Exhaustion and hunger magnify stress and weaken the immune system. Getting enough sleep and continuing to eat well and regularly are two of the most important things healthcare workers can do for themselves right now. Even when hospital schedules are hectic, prioritizing your rest and nutrition is imperative for ensuring that you can provide the best care possible for your patients.
Follow Safety Protocols Closely
Even when patient care requires direct interaction, there are still ways you can adhere to social distancing and public health safety measures. Take those extra moments, even in urgent care scenarios, to make sure you’re putting on your protective gear and using it correctly. Allow yourself the time to safely remove any safety equipment you’re using as well, so that you don’t risk contamination or infection in the process. This also means washing your hands and performing regular temperature checks. If these are important measures for patients, they are also important measures for you.
It is equally important to have accountability with your fellow caregivers, and to ensure that they too are following safety protocols and protecting their wellbeing.
Perform Self Check-Ins
Health care workers are a busy group, and their daily lives are dedicated to the safety, care, and comfort of others. But, it’s important to make sure you’re checking in on yourself, too. Before or after your workday begins—or even for a few minutes during your shift—take some time to evaluate how you’re feeling.
Have you had something to eat or drink yet today? Is there a situation from home or work that’s frustrating you? Are there any actions you can take now to improve your mood or alleviate stress? It’s important to be aware of your feelings to make sure you’re asking for—and getting—what you need.
Reach Out for Support
Your mental and spiritual health should never be on the back burner, especially when you’re spending more time at home and potentially by yourself. Taking the time to connect with loved ones over phone or video chat can help combat the feelings of isolation you may be experiencing. It can also be helpful to manage stress and anxiety through your sense of spirituality, engaging in mindfulness exercises like meditation or prayer. Additionally, you’ll find virtual worship services from diverse faith traditions are now readily available online. Relying on one’s spirituality can be a source of great comfort and strength.
It’s OK to rely on the help of your fellow caregivers, but remember they may have a lot on their plate, as well. Connecting with coworkers, family, and friends is important and can be helpful, but you can seek additional support from your workplace as well. Ask about self-care resources that are available to you at work. Many hospitals offer employee assistance programs, which may include tips for coping or they can direct you to resources like psychologists or counselors who may be of help to you during a difficult time.
Visit the Main Line Health website to stay updated on our developing COVID-19 response, and to learn more about staying healthy and well during this time.