10 Lessons Learned About Personal Health During the Pandemic
2020 was a trying year for everyone, largely because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the rippling ramifications of its rapid spread. Those who caught the virus and recovered faced the toll it took on their health and wellbeing. And there’s still much we don’t know about the lasting impact of the virus on our immune system and physiology.
What is evident, however, is the toll the virus has had on everyone, whether they contracted it or not. Stress, anxiety, depression, and more are all lingering effects of a year spent in isolation.
You didn’t have to get sick with COVID-19 for last year to put a drain on your health. Many aspects of the pandemic were not physical, yet they had physical effects. Frontline workers and healthcare professionals shouldered the immense burden of caring for sick individuals and their families in a scary and rapidly changing environment. For many, this stress and a lack of self-care manifested in both physical and mental ailments.
However, there are lessons to be learned from the year of persistent isolation, stress, and illness. These 10 personal health lessons can pave the way for better health and wellness for all — but particularly travel nurses — in 2021 and beyond.
- Little things matter: Small measures like handwashing, good cough etiquette, and personal space helped reduce the spread of COVID-19. However, they also proved useful in protecting people from less-serious illnesses like the flu.
- Physical affiliation comes with a mental health toll: It isn’t only the people who fall physically ill that experience problems. The people close to them are affected by mental health challenges that need to be overcome as well. Your environment plays a big part in your overall health and wellness!
- Relationships are vital to mental wellness: During quarantine lockdowns, families and friends maintained social distance to prevent illness transmission. Many people discovered that their mental health suffered without frequent interpersonal communication and contact with their loved ones.
- Trust data when it comes to mindful hygiene: Experts still don’t know all there is to know about COVID-19. Throughout the year, citizens placed their trust in the latest data and guidelines from trusted organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to best protect their health and the health of their loved ones. We were truly in this together, learning and adjusting as necessary.
- Embracing flexibility and adaptability can lead to lower stress: Both inside and outside healthcare settings, processes were abandoned as industries made changes for safety and security. Employees learned to roll with the punches and stay flexible, rather than adhere to rigid rules that no longer served the needs of the community and facility.
- Technology and personal health are intertwined: The future of personal health is putting a greater reliance on technology. Telehealth and remote monitoring skyrocketed during the pandemic, keeping people safe.
- Empathy and compassion go a long way: During the most challenging months of 2020, everyone needed a little extra compassion and support. Small acts of service and empathy helped ease our collective burdens.
- There’s no substitute for rest, sleep, and relaxation: People hit their limits in 2020 and went back to basics to cope and recover: sleep and relaxation. Taking time for self-care was a necessity — not a luxury — to stay healthy.
- Listen to your body and get in tune with your health: The body has its own ways of showing us it needs support. Leaning into these cues helped people take charge of their own health.
- Be mindful in observing and understanding symptoms: New symptoms of COVID-19 seemed to appear every day, requiring immense observation. This skill can help nurses care for future patients and healthcare situations.
As a healthcare provider, you’re not only responsible for your patients’ health but also your own. You can’t provide excellent care if you’re not well yourself! Incorporating these lessons into your everyday life will allow you to weather the demands of future situations — even if none quite measure up to the stress of 2020.