Nurses Need to Stay Focused and Mindful During Coronavirus Pandemic
Nursing is a stressful profession for so many valid reasons. Add a pandemic to the mix and, for many, it can become downright challenging to find positivity. But while the situation may be dire, nurses need to make sure they’re also taking care of their own mental and physical health and wellness. Caring for patients becomes more challenging when you’re suffering your own duress. Though it might not seem like it, there are many things you can do to re-center yourself and find balance in these most overwhelming of times.
COVID-19 presents mental challenges atop physical ones
Many people are struggling right now as the COVID-19 pandemic causes widespread closures of schools, businesses, and social events. All these things are challenging enough. However, for healthcare workers, the challenges might be even greater.
Being on the front lines of a literal pandemic can be stressful, scary, and exhausting. Seeing people who are critically ill, facing a shortage of PPE and supplies, and looking ahead to potentially high mortality rates adds an entirely new level of hardship to the current situation.
Not only can this stress affect your mental health, but it can affect your physical health as well. Persistent stress hampers your immune system, affects your sleep, and impacts other health choices — all of which makes you more susceptible to illness. In the face of such a highly contagious virus, nurses not taking care of their physical and mental wellbeing could be disastrous.
It’s vital for nurses to prioritize their mental and physical health, to keep both themselves and the community safe. The healthier you are, the better chance you have to stave off illness, even when surrounded by contagions.
Staying well during a pandemic
Although the circumstances may seem bleak, there are lots of things you can (and should) be doing to protect yourself mentally and physically. Many of these things are generally good for you, but they’re even more important during a health crisis.
- Make healthy choices: First and foremost, you need to fuel your body and brain appropriately — a task that might seem impossible when you’re working long hours in a busy emergency department. Eating healthy meals and sleeping enough each night are two crucial components of relieving stress, bolstering your immune system, and heading into work ready to tackle new challenges.
- Find time for relaxation: Beyond healthy choices, it’s important to find time to care for your mental health by unplugging and unloading some of your stress. After a long and difficult shift, take 30 minutes to meditate, do yoga, or spend time on a calming hobby. Disconnect from the news and social media and spend time on you.
- Lean on your support system: Many of your fellow nurses, doctors, and hospital staff are going through the same stress you are. By lending a helping hand or a listening ear to each other, your healthcare team can create a tremendous support system. You might even decide to band together to give back in any way you can and relieve some of the pressure on your fellow coworkers.
Additionally, don’t forget to reach out to family and friends who live far from you. Send a text, give them a call, or video chat a few times a week to check in and support one another.
Being a healthcare provider during a pandemic is frightening, but its harmful effects can be lessened. Remember to take care of yourself so you can take care of others.