No one would ever argue that working in the medical field is an easy task, let alone during a global pandemic. Even if you have always felt called to your chosen profession, a bad day is always possible. More so, over the last several months, medical personnel have faced truly unprecedented working conditions. When caring for others in such overwhelming conditions, it is quite easy to overlook caring for yourself. However, in times like these, self-care is essential. Whether this list serves as friendly reminders, or new ideas, we hope these simple self-care ideas will help caregivers look after themselves as well as they look after their patients.
Drink MORE Water
When working long hours, it can be tempting to reach for coffee or that sugar-filled energy drink. However, while providing an initial boost, those come with a crash. This crash can exacerbate personal anxieties and negative feelings. Drinking enough water, is a healthy habit that tops most list of self-care suggestions. On a similar note, make eating healthy a priority. While this is not always possible, by packing healthy, portable snacks for on-the-go eating, you can minimize your trips to the vending machine.
The Power of Music
Music is incredibly powerful. Whether it is the power to calm us, energize us, or even increase our productivity, the right tunes can make a difference. While music without lyrics is often best for boosting our productivity, others can certainly boost our mood. Whether you prefer high energy techo, or classical jazz, don’t forget to turn on the tunes whenever possible.
Hold on to your Hobbies
When we are drowning in work, it is easy to push our hobbies to the side. However, a big part of self-care is keeping your hobbies at the forefront of your life. Our hobbies help keep us from getting in the cycle of eat, sleep, work, repeat. While it may seem like you don’t have time for that trip to the gym, to watch a movie, or to sit and journal, you will be glad you did.
Talk it Out
Whether you prefer to talk to a professional, or a close friend, being able to talk through overwhelming feelings is a huge step in maintaining self-care. These conversations can be beneficial in a multitude of ways- including helping you come to terms with feelings you may not be aware of and acknowledging your stress levels before they become overwhelming.
Don’t Forget to Relax
There are smartphone apps and smartwatches with built-in relaxation features. Even if you take just a minute or two to do some deep breathing, it can truly make a difference with your mindset. Or, if possible, try stepping away for a few moments of meditation. If you are a person of faith, taking a few moments to engage in prayer can help you relax as well. Believe it or not, these brief moments can truly make a difference in maintaining a healthy state of mind.
Diversify Wherever Possible
While this step is a huge “if” that is dependent on your facility and the nature of your work, it’s worth consideration. Often, if we find ourselves in the rut of doing the exact same tasks day in and day out, it can take its toll. Stepping outside our box and requesting a different assignment or task can help provide new stimulation.
Offer to Lend a Hand
You’re a medical professional that cares about people. You probably already go above and beyond during your day. However, doing a favor for someone – no matter how small- can make you feel good about yourself. Whether it’s offering to grab something from the printer, or deliver something down the hall, when you spend just a few moments helping someone else out, you not only put a smile on your own face but you’ve strengthened a bond with your co-worker.
Self-Care: Don’t Sacrifice It
When you take a hectic work environment, and add a demanding home/work life schedule, it is easy to sacrifice self-care. However, it’s important to remember the lesson we learned the first time we stepped on an airplane- you must put the oxygen mask on yourself FIRST. Otherwise, you will not be able to help those around you. For those working in a field prone to burnout and fatigue, maintaining self-care allows you to increase your resilience when stress in life arises, and continue to do what you do best- help others. If you have any ideas we didn’t list, send them to us and we will be sure to add them here!