How to Stay Sane as a Health Worker During a Pandemic?
Witnessing the events caused by any disease, let alone a pandemic, can be highly traumatic and stressful. So, if you are in the medical field, you may suffer from burnout and compassion fatigue.
Of course, you know how to cover your cough and wash your hands, but how do you stay sane amid all the suffering and loss of life around you?
Here are some tips that can be of help.
1. Acknowledge your Emotions
Being in the medical field is a calling (for most people), and as such, you may find yourself pushing your feelings and thoughts aside so that you can focus on your patients. However, ignoring how you feel can be detrimental to your mental health in the end.
However, did you know that acknowledging your feelings is therapeutic? Recognizing and admitting that you are overwhelmed or frustrated will not hurt anyone; instead, it takes the power away from the feeling.
A UCLA study reveals that acknowledging emotions can reduce the activeness of the amygdala, which ignites the human fear response.
2. Consider Breath Exercises
A simple activity such as taking several deep breaths can slow down your flight or fight response and ultimately balance out stress hormones like cortisol. You can practice gearshift breathing, a popular breathing exercise, whenever your stress levels are off the roof.
It involves deep inhalation through the nose followed by exhalation through pursed lips. The best part is that you do not have to be anywhere special to do this. It can be done in the restroom, your car, or even at your desk.
3. Eat Healthy and Hydrate
This one sounds cliché, but that doesn’t mean it is invalid. First, you want to remain hydrated at all times. When they say water is life, they mean it, so before each meal, have a glass of water. Keep a bottle in your car and one at your desk for daily sipping.
You also want to eat healthy meals, so think about going organic and avoiding junk.
This should come naturally to everyone, but it is easier said than done, especially when there is much to do for your patients. Nevertheless, you must remember that getting enough rest is paramount in keeping you productive and clear-minded while at work.
So, as hard as it may be, try to set aside time for your mind and body to rest.
5. Try New Things
It is not easy to venture into new hobbies as a health worker, but the thing is that you may want to, given your work environment and the impact it may have on your mental well-being. Well, you may never find the time, so it is up to you to create it.
You do not have to start big, either. For instance, you can take a few minutes to write your thoughts in a journal or try new health supplements to support your immunity.
6. Focus on the Positive
In recent years, more people have been practicing gratitude, and there is a good reason for that – it is not a fad. In medical language, it can be termed as practicing self-directed neuroplasticity, which is your ability to re-tune your brain to have a more optimistic outlook on life.
Humans tend to harbor negative thoughts as part of their desire to survive in the face of danger. However, as you continue to evolve, the same instinct is likely to cause stress-induced health issues.
Your brain can recognize when you enjoy things to rewire itself to better understand your surroundings.
7. Prepare Yourself
Did you know that planning is a form of self-care? For instance, you can plan your meals to avoid rushing to the grocery store whenever you want to cook. This will also help you save and create time for doing other things that will benefit your sanity amid the pandemic.
As a health worker, you have a lot on your plate, but do not let it drive you up the wall. Some of the things that will happen in your line of work will be tragic, and there is not much you can do. With the tips above, you will be a better version of yourself and be able to give the same to your patients.