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Nurse First News Blog

How Healthcare Professionals Can Cope During COVID-19 Pandemic

Posted March 26, 2020

Healthcare professionals throughout the world are being called to take on the enormous task of COVID-19.  We can only imagine the amount of stress and uncertainty you feel at this moment.  As you care for others on a daily basis, we want you to take some time for your own self-care.  This blog will cover ways that you can cope and give yourself some “love” during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. 

Check Your Mental Health

COVID-19 has brought a lot of uncertainty and fear across the United States. These feelings do not discriminate against your age, race, ethnicity, job title or location. This pandemic is something we have never seen before in our lifetime.  It is natural to have a variety of feelings surrounding this virus at any given moment.   Just because you are on the front lines every day does not mean you are immune to emotion.  One of your greatest attributes is your immense amount of care and compassion that you hold for others.  This attribute carries a heavy burden.   

At Nurses PRN, we understand that mental health is a crucial component to your overall health and well-being.  Due to the importance of mental health, we offer an EAP (Employee Assistance Program)- free of charge.  Currently, our EAP team has created a brief video to help support YOU during this time: Coronavirus Stress: Strategies for Coping

If you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed during this pandemic or at any other time throughout the year – please call 888-881-5462 or visit www.supportlinc.com.  Although you are trained and quite frankly ingrained to care for others, please do not lose sight on yourself. 
As always, we are here to support you.

Socialize Virtually

As humans we are social beings. Therefore, social isolation and distancing is not a natural way of living for us.  In fact, it is uncomfortable and lonely.  Thankfully, in the age of technology we can combat these feelings by communicating with our loved ones and friends using various forms. After a long and exhausting shift, you may just need to hear your mom’s encouraging voice or see a smile from your cousin. 

There is no better time than now to get quick and easy access to your family and friends.  Millions of people across the world are turning to Facetime, Zoom, Facebook, Instagram, and so many other social platforms to stay connected.  We understand that your contact with family and friends is especially limited due to your current work circumstances.  Therefore, we encourage you to set up “virtual happy hours”, “virtual movie viewing parties”, “virtual walks through your neighborhood” or simply just a standing time to connect with your loved ones. This is a difficult time in the world to be “social beings”. However, it is essential that you find time to stay connected.  Not only for the sake of your relationships, but for your well-being too. 

Connect with other Heroes 

Going into work each day you have a unique bond with each healthcare professional in your facility.  You are sharing similar struggles, fears, anxieties and stresses on a daily basis.  You have a built-in community of people that you can trust and communicate your feelings with day in and day out.  Although, your schedules are insane and the workload is never ending – it is crucial to find ways to connect with others that “get it”.  Maybe it is a brief conversation in passing or connecting with other healthcare professionals online.  If an online platform is more conducive to your life right now then you’re in luck!  Healthcare professionals all around the world are finding ways to digitally connect with one another.  Here are some resources you can use to virtually connect with other professionals in your field and find the support you need…

Wherever you find your support system, be sure to use it.  Your job is emotionally and physically exhausting as it is.  The current state of the country is only amplifying those feelings.  In order to be a strong support for your patients, you need to ensure you find support as well. 

Eat Well, Exercise, Meditate…

Mind, body and soul are all interconnected, if one is off then the whole train is derailed.  We understand that your shifts are long and exhausting, but finding a few minutes for “self-care” will make a world of difference. 

Eat Well

Easier said than done, right? With a busy schedule it can be difficult to eat a well-balanced diet.  However, it is so important to fuel your body with protein packed foods to keep your energy level up.  According to Nurse.org, here are some easy foods to bring on your next shift:

  • String cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Nuts
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Edamame
  • Hummus with carrots
  • Cottage cheese
  • Turkey roll-ups

The old saying “you are what you eat” is so true.  If you fuel your body with donuts, chips and soda – your body will soon have something negative to say about it.  Nourishing your body with fruits, vegetables and protein packed items will give you the energy you need during those long shifts. 

Exercise

Moving your body will not only keep you physically fit, but will make your brain happier too.  Exercise causes the release of endorphins, which in turn reduces levels of depression, fatigue and stress.  If you can’t dedicate 30 minutes at a time to exercise, try to do shorter bursts throughout the day. Here are a few exercises you can sneak in throughout the day or after your shift…

  • Chair crunches
  • Chair crunches with a twist
  • Wall push ups
  • Wall squats
  • Leg lifts
  • Release neck stretches

Finding a little time throughout the day to work on your body is so helpful for your total well-being.  After a little workout, you will feel refreshed and energized to tackle the next part of your day. 

Meditate

Last, but not least make time to calm your mind.  Your job is already stressful and the outbreak of COVID-19 has taken that up 100 notches.  Now more than ever you should be practicing meditation or simply resting your mind. We live in a world where we are always on the go and moving quickly to the next thing.  Take a few minutes each day to quiet down your thoughts, worries and stresses.  This may sound impossible right now, but create a plan for when you can practice.  Maybe it is in the shower or during your commute – wherever it is be intentional.  Here are a few tips to get you started..

  • Sit for two minutes
  • Set a routine
  • Don’t get caught up in the “how”
  • Count your breaths
  • Bring your mind back when you wander

After implementing an “eat well, exercise and meditate” lifestyle, you’ll quickly see and feel the positive impact that it has on your life. 

Conclusion

This world brings a lot of uncertainty, but one thing remains and that is your unending dedication to your patients and their families.  However, it is important to remember now and always that caregivers need care too.  After a long and difficult shift be sure to find a healthy coping mechanism, whether it is something listed above or not.  We are here for you, you are not alone and you will get through this! 

Resources:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
https://nurse.org/articles/high-protein-high-energy-snacks-for-nurses/
https://aaptiv.com/magazine/four-reasons-exercise-feel-good
https://www.sharecare.com/health/nursing/slideshow/easy-work-exercises-nurses
https://zenhabits.net/meditation-guide/

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