5 Self-Care Strategies for Healthcare Workers During COVID-19
The pandemic has been taxing on everyone, but no one has borne the brunt as much as healthcare workers. Whether you’re a provider on the front lines of the pandemic or an administrator working behind the scenes, 2020 has placed unprecedented demands and stress on you and your family. As we head into winter and a spike in COVID-19 cases, it’s more important than ever for those in the healthcare profession to practice self-care. These are 5 self-care strategies you can use to take care of yourself as you continue fighting the pandemic.
Simplify healthy routines
As days shorten and workloads increase this winter, it will become harder for healthcare workers to maintain healthy habits like eating homemade meals and exercising.
Instead of giving up on healthy habits, simplify them so they’re easier to maintain when things get tough. Use days off to meal prep, get your groceries delivered, embrace the crockpot, and opt for high-intensity exercise to keep workouts brief yet effective.
Easily track your well-being
A smartwatch is another way to lighten the mental load of a healthy lifestyle. Not only do doctors and nurses love the convenience of smartwatches at work, but with customizable goals for steps, sleep, and other health metrics, smartwatches make it easy to monitor your well-being. Some, like the Apple Watch SE, even come with emergency features that detect irregular heart rates, falls, and can call emergency services if needed.
Prioritize a good night’s sleep
A smartwatch lets you know when you’re not sleeping well, but it can’t solve the insomnia that countless healthcare workers face during the pandemic. Whether you’re struggling to sleep due to stress or schedule disruptions, it’s important to find a way to get quality sleep.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness recommends maximizing light exposure while awake and creating a dark environment for sleep, even if you work irregular hours. Healthcare workers should also arm themselves with relaxation strategies for shifting their mind away from anxiety and into a restful state.
If you’ve changed sleeping arrangements due to self-isolation, make sure you have a supportive, comfortable place to sleep. No space for a second bedroom? Floor mattresses like the LUCID convertible folding mattress are great for small spaces because they stow away when not in use.
Keep aches and pains in check
Healthcare can be a highly physical profession, and many frontline workers find themselves with chronic pain after years on the job. Not only is chronic pain uncomfortable, but it also adds to the stress healthcare workers already face during the pandemic.
As part of your self-care strategies, make sure you have healthy pain relief strategies to turn to during the pandemic. That may mean asking for extra help at home, using low-impact exercise for pain relief, and turning to relaxation methods when pain and anxiety strike. Avoid leaning on alcohol or drugs. While it may provide short-term pain relief, substance abuse has long-term consequences for your health and career.
Find moments of mindfulness
For healthcare workers in high-pressure environments, one of the hardest things is transitioning from work to home. Working on the frontlines of a pandemic puts a lot of weight on healthcare workers’ shoulders ‑ a weight that’s not always easy to shake off when a shift ends.
Throughout the workday and when it’s over, use moments of mindfulness to center yourself. Whether it’s 20 seconds of self-talk while washing your hands or five minutes in the car before going home, these moments improve emotional regulation and self-compassion while also making it easier to leave work at work.
If self-reflection doesn’t come naturally to you, try one of the many mindfulness apps on the market today. Calm and Headspace are the most well-known, but there’s no shortage of mindfulness and meditation apps out there.
As a healthcare worker during a global pandemic, it’s easy to rationalize putting your own health on the back burner. However, you can’t care for others if you’re not taking care of yourself first. By using self-care strategies like these to look after yourself, you can keep fighting the good fight through the pandemic and beyond.