As healthcare workers, it’s our mission to fix, encourage, and comfort those in our care.
Whether you are a caregiver, supervisor, administrator, or environmental services staff- the coronavirus pandemic hits us all in the same way. It’s a simultaneous punch in the gut, a tug-of-war on the heart, and a drain on the brain.
Things feel really out of control right now.
As healthcare workers, it’s our mission to fix, encourage, and comfort those in our care. Coronavirus can’t take that away. But now our mission is complicated by the fact that we also have to keep ourselves out of harm’s way while doing a job that places us directly in the line of fire.
It’s stressful and exhausting to face each day knowing you WILL place others above yourself because that’s what you signed up for. People you have grown to love will get sick and maybe even die. You will work until you drop, and then wake up the next day and do it again. You might get sick yourself. And worst of all, you might bring the virus home to your family and loved ones. It’s a huge responsibility to bear.
And then someone asks, “How are you doing?”
Will you admit you feel fearful, anxious, or powerless? Do you tell them you feel a little angry? Of course, you’re tired and probably even sad. But instead, you answer, “I’m okay.” Or “I can’t complain. At least I have a job.”
Well, here’s a newsflash: IT’S OKAY TO FEEL HOW YOU FEEL!
In fact, it’s healthy to feel those feelings. It means you are human. Give yourself a moment to sit with your feelings each day. Try to understand why you feel the way you do. Then, give yourself a little compassion and grace.
It’s called self-care.
Often, those who care for others feel selfish when thinking about “self-care.” But self-care is the most compassionate thing you can do for yourself and everyone else in your care. Why is that?
It’s because all those feelings, (fear, anxiety, powerlessness, anger, exhaustion and depression) if ignored, will grow, deepen, and settle in. They will begin to cloud your judgment and steal your focus. Over time, healthcare workers operating under these circumstances will begin to make mistakes, forget important steps, and even place those in their care at a greater risk for harm.
If not for yourself, then do it for them.
If the idea of self-care makes you uncomfortable, then don’t do it for yourself. Do it for your loved ones and the those in your care. Remember the saying, “You can’t give away what you don’t have.”
So, how do you care for yourself in the midst of this crisis? Here are a few suggestions:
- On your way to work, listen to music that inspires and motivates you.
- Go for a walk. If you’re with a client who can get out, take them out too.
- If you can’t go for a walk, find a sunny spot to just sit and soak in a few rays of sunshine for five minutes.
- Set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself to take short breaks during the day. Even if it’s just a minute or two, take some deep breaths and clear your mind.
- Get a good night’s sleep.
- On your day off, stay in pajamas all day. Watch a movie or binge a whole series.
- Roast a whole chicken. It barely takes any effort to toss the thing in an oven and pull it out a few hours later. Then portion it out into healthy grab-and-go lunches for the week.
- Share meals with your friends and family, even if it has to be over a zoom call! It will help you feel more connected and grounded.
- Call your best friend, your sister, or your mother just to say hi.
- Go for a drive. If gas is cheap where you are right now, just get in your car and go!
- Do something creative. Paint, write, craft, sew, build something, or play an instrument.
- Drink plenty of water. Your skin and hair will glow!
- Ask for help when you need it.
- Learn to say “no” before you become overwhelmed.
How will you care for YOURSELF during this crazy time?