5 Ways Nurses Can Keep Tabs On Their Mental Health
As healthcare professionals, you are trained and capable to handle whatever is thrown at you, but one of your best attributes is that you are human. The human element brings out the innate care, compassion, and empathy that you possess for your patients. However, it can also bring out fear, anxiety, and depression. You have given your life to care for others and in the process of doing so, it can be easy to forget about yourself. Your mental health now, and always, is so important to monitor and stay on top of. In this blog, we are going to highlight 5 ways that you can keep tabs on your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
Reflect on Yourself
Find time during the day to simply reflect on how you’re doing emotionally. Easier said than done, right? This alone time can be done on your commute to or from work, in the shower, or while you’re making coffee. However and wherever you reflect, make sure to address and acknowledge your feelings. They are never wrong, nor should you be ashamed of them.
The best way to restore your mental health is understanding the root cause of your feelings, why it has you feeling a certain way, and develop a way to alleviate those burdens. For example, you may find that after each shift during the pandemic, you are feeling anxious. You uncover that this anxiety is stemming from the uncertainty of the virus – from previous experience, you know that the best way to alleviate stress is for you to take a long brisk walk. Therefore, make a pact with yourself that after every stressful shift you take a 30-minute walk around your neighborhood. Acknowledge, address, and take action…!
Talk it out
Ask a friend or family member to be your “check-in buddy”. Schedule time with this person to chat once a day or maybe even once per week to catch up and hash out life’s newest events. The goal is to keep it consistent so you are feeling connected and heard on a regular basis.
This is a great time for you to unload some stress and talk through the burdens lingering in your mind. More than likely the person on the other end is feeling similar stresses. It is important to remember that you are never alone – it may feel like it at times, but as soon as you open up, you will find that others are in a similar boat as you.
Avoid Watching the News Excessively
The news can be a great way to gather information but tread these waters cautiously. Although it is important to stay up-to-date and current, don’t consume yourself with constant news updates. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are especially drawn to the latest information about this topic, but it is important to not obsess.
You are already working on the frontlines with patients, the last thing you need is to perpetuate the stress at home. If you tend to watch the news in the morning or at night, you may want to rethink how long you submerge yourself in it. Instead try to pick up a new routine -read a book, watch a show or pick up a new hobby! Again, stay informed but try not to make the news a focal point in your life. Bring joy, positivity, and happiness to your day!
Find time for YOU!
It can be difficult to get off of the hamster wheel of work and home – but making time for you is essential in order to regroup after a long shift. Try to reignite your true passions and interests. There is no better time than the present to start making time for you! Maybe it is 10 minutes of meditation, exercise, reading a book or watching a funny movie. Whatever brings you joy – immerse yourself in it! Even if it’s only for a short time each day, make the time for you. Don’t let yourself become an afterthought. You are far too great of a caregiver to neglect your own care.
Seek Professional Guidance
You know yourself best and should never feel ashamed to seek medical attention for feelings of anxiety and/or depression. We wouldn’t neglect our car with its “check engine” light on, would we?! Never dismiss your “check engine” light. You need care and attention.
Just because you are a healthcare professional doesn’t mean you are exempt from medical attention – even if it is difficult for you to accept it. Be sure to reach out to your physician about your current state, so you can get an appointment and develop an action plan. You don’t need to suffer in silence, you are not alone and your happiness is too important to brush off. There are better days coming.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, and always, be sure to keep tabs on your mental health. Your mental well-being is just as important as your physical one. They both work in unison and need care. If your mental health is off your physical body will feel it too. We hope that if you are feeling the burden of anxiety and depression that you will seek support.
You are never alone.