One of the biggest challenges that we have faced throughout this pandemic is finding time for healthy and safe self-care practices. Self-care is often thought of as a luxury when in reality it is the active practice of showing up for yourself every day in a variety of ways. It encompasses the idea that taking care of your own physical and mental well-being starts with recognizing your needs. When working with patients I am constantly reminded that in order to help them manage their stressors I need to manage my own.
Mental health professionals are not immune to the impact that COVID-19 has had on our own mental wellness as frontline workers helping patients grieve losses and cope with their anxieties. Frontline workers are 76% more likely to experience burnout or compassion fatigue. With so much to process, ensuring that our mental, physical, spiritual and emotional needs are met can be difficult.
Instead of viewing self-care as an indulgence we should look at it as self-preservation.
Below are a few tips to help front-line workers and anyone looking to improve their self-care regime.
This spring our department is facing quite the challenge. It is the best of times and the most difficult of times. The stress of COVID-19 has brought many children and families to our doors, increased ER visits, increased inpatient admissions and increased referrals for outpatient services that has taxed our small department. We try very hard to meet the demands on all levels of care.
We are also growing not only in the amount of services we provide but we are actively trying to recruit Child and Adolescent psychiatrists, therapists, and support staff to help meet the demand and expand our clinical services while also filling the gaps in research, education, and training. With growth and the remnants of constraints, comes a unique moment for growth and rebirth.
Please stay safe and we will continue to engage our community in a way that leads to a great rebirth of spirit and good health.
Eat, Sleep, Move, and Repeat
Caring for your body is essential, so try to eat balanced and full meals throughout the day to help provide the nutrition your body needs. Moving your body daily is also essential to keep you flowing throughout the day.
- Have healthy snacks (i.e., whole fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds) handy to keep you going through those long hours.
- Get eight hours of sleep a day or take power naps to help your body function.
- Move at least 20 minutes a day whether it’s a walk around the block, biking, dancing, or doing your favorite yoga pose.
One Thing, One Day At a Time
Acknowledge that you are doing your best and do not try to take on more than one large task at a time. Overwhelming or overworking yourself only adds to your stress and workload, so do not shy away from asking for help from a family member, friend, supervisor, or colleague.
Foster Healthy Relationships
Take time to phone a friend or loved one to chat for 15-20 mins a few times a week.
Even though we still have to socially distance ourselves we can talk, text, and video chat to check-in with each other. Having socially distanced picnics and walks in open areas outdoors can help us stay connected safely while ensuring we foster healthy relationships.
About the Author
Brandy Hughey, DSW, LCSW-QS, is a licensed clinical therapist who specializes in child and adolescent mental health. She provides intervention services that focus on the interconnection between social, emotional, and behavioral health. Dr. Hughey uses an interpersonal therapeutic treatment approach to help children, adolescents, and families learn strategies that promote positive and healthy behaviors, improve social-emotional functioning, and enhance overall mood and well-being. She is a member of Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital PFAC Behavioral Health Committee.