Healthcare workers have one of the noblest professions in the world: taking care of those in need. Medical professionals put forth tremendous efforts and make many sacrifices to care for and support their patients, especially in times of uncertainty. The COVID-19 has tested the strength and resiliency of our healthcare staff all over the world. From facing a brand-new virus, to dealing with PPE and resource shortages, to coping with illness and death on a mass scale, the pandemic has affected the mental health of every caregiver in the medical field.
Defined by the World Health Organization, mental health is "a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community." In order to care for others, you must take care of yourself first. To support and maintain your mental health as a healthcare professional, you can follow these recommendations:
Set work-life boundaries. Reduce the chances of burnout or compassion fatigue by establishing (and sticking to) boundaries between your career and the rest of your life.
Take care of your physical health. Get plenty of sleep, eat healthily, and practice daily physical activity. A healthy body supports a healthy headspace.
Employ healthy coping strategies. Whether it’s daily shift reflections, talking with a loved one, or even consulting a mental health professional, find constructive and healthy ways to combat stress and anxiety.
Check in with yourself regularly. Caregivers spend so much tie caring for other people that they sometimes forget to care for themselves. Monitor your mental and physical health with inner check-ins so that you can seek support, care, advice, or help if you ever need it.
Find your why. Fulfilling our purposes in life gives us a sense of accomplishment, and revisiting the inspiration, reason, and meaning for your career in healthcare can help fortify your perspective.
Anxiety and depression can manifest in times of extreme stress, so it’s important to note any signs of declining mental health. Speak to a family member, close friend, colleague, or mental health professional if you are experiencing the following:
Feeling guilty, helpless, or hopeless
Losing interest in things
Crying spells or bursts of anger
Difficulty eating and/or sleeping
Increased physical symptoms (ie. stomach aches or headaches)
Being disoriented or confused
Becoming irritable or hostile in social situations
Having difficulty solving problems and making decisions
Engaging in problematic or risky behaviors
Your mental health matters. Together, we can care for ourselves and our communities through mental health support and education. Never be afraid to seek help when you need it. Indiana residents can visit https://bewellindiana.com/ for mental health and wellness support and resources. Throughout this month, we will be sharing tips, information, and inspiration surrounding #MentalHealthMonth on our social media channels. Remember, #YouAreNotAlone.