Caring for oneself during turbulent times can influence overall health and wellbeing. Stress, fear, worry and risk reduce the body’s ability to mitigate illness. For health care workers on the frontlines of COVID-19 self-care steps are vital. For the rest of the population, the stress may be less yet still beyond what we may feel we can absorb. These tips may help.
According to an article by Rubina Kapil of Mental Health First Aid, those who are facing long, tiring hours and fear of exposure to the virus need to practice daily self-care. These tips were created for individuals who are essential medical and health care workers who must care for their own mental health and well-being. Yet, everyone with concerns over COVID-19 can benefit from these basics.
Take a few minutes during your commute, before bed or even between patients to be the difference for yourself with self-care during this stressful time.
- RECOGNIZE THE VALUABLE ROLE you and your colleagues play on the front lines of COVID-19. Remind yourself that despite challenges, you are making a difference and taking care of those most in need.
- PRACTICE SELF-COMPASSION. There is no road map. You are doing the best you can in a difficult situation. Take your situation day by day or hour by hour, if needed. Take breaks from work when you can.
- VALIDATE ANY EMOTIONS you might be feeling. There is no right or wrong way to process the COVID-19 experience. It is normal to feel a range of emotions including being overwhelmed, frustrated or angry, worried, anxious, restless, agitated, sad or fatigued.
- FIND WAYS TO SEE THE POSITIVE. It can be easy to get overwhelmed hearing about the growing number of confirmed cases, shortage of resources and loss of life. Try to find the hopeful stories about communities coming together to support local businesses, feeding hungry children and families, donating money and critical supplies, and recognizing front-line workers, like you, for their sacrifice.
These small changes to your routine can improve your overall mood and protect your mental health during this pandemic. If these are too hard to do, that’s ok too. Seek out support from family or friends and find other simple self-care tactics that help you.