Covid exhaustion is real, it is happening, and it is taking over the healthcare industry. The Nursing Times published an article back in January which highlighted one nurse’s experience of covid exhaustion. She said that the physical exhaustion that she would sometimes feel after shifts before the pandemic was now paired with mental exhaustion. Sadly, we are sure many of you reading this can relate to her. In a survey conducted by the Nursing Standard, eight out of ten nurses said their mental health had been affected by the pandemic, while six in ten said their physical health was suffering. They survey also found that nurses largest concerns were around the lack of PPE, contracting the virus themselves, and the health of family and friends.
Something we at Bluestones Medical care passionately about is the mental health of our candidates. Making sure that you go to work feeling happy, healthy, and motivated to tackle whatever comes your way is of upmost importance to us, and we will do whatever we can to support you and your mental health. So, before we continue, we want to remind you that we are only ever a phone call away and the Bluestones Medical team will always be here for you.
Although things are starting to look up, you know better than anyone that we are not in the clear yet. People are still losing their lives and becoming seriously ill because of the virus and with the lockdown rules slowly easing, along with the unpredictability of this virus, who knows what will happen over the coming weeks.
With this in mind, we thought we would provide you with some information, tips, and advice on how you can best protect your mental health. Moreover, if you feel as though you are already struggling, we hope this information will help you feel a little better.
Do not forget to think about YOU!
One of the many roles of being a nurse is to care for other people. You are so busy fixing other people’s problems, that caring for your own is not a priority. Although it just goes to show how much of an incredibly selfless person you are, you should never forget just how important taking care of your own health is, not only for you, but for your friends, family, and your patients.
Mind’s tips for looking after yourself in work
Take some time before your shift
Mentally prepare by working through a readiness checklist. This could include the following:
- Challenging negative thoughts and assumptions about what the day might bring. Imagining the worst will fuel any anxiety.
- Taking six deep breaths, to slow your heart rate and put your body into a calm, ready state.
- Purposefully leaving worries behind. Write them down, say them or shut them in your locker.
- If you enjoy mindfulness or relaxation exercises, this might be a good time to do them.
Take your breaks
Sometimes it is tempting to work right through and get the job done, especially in this environment of increased pressure. But taking a break is important and can allow you to rest and recuperate, even for just a little while.
Look after your body during your shift
The measures you need to take to keep yourself and your patients safe and protected are probably forefront in your mind now. But do not neglect other aspects of your physical health too. For example, it is not always practical or easy to eat well. However, preparing meals and healthy snacks before shifts or at the beginning of a work week can help us eat well, feel energised and get the correct nutrients for a taxing shift. It is just as important to stay hydrated before, during, and after shifts. When you do manage to get breaks, try to catch up a bit on sleep where you can. Click here for some quick and easy meal ideas for busy nurses like you
Think about your work/life balance
Working long shifts in such a challenging and fast-paced environment can leave you exhausted. This makes it more important than ever to take care of yourself by doing something you enjoy. Home life has transformed for most of us. Think about ways to take some time for yourself in this new environment. Build in opportunities to do things that relax you and make time to stay in contact with those you care about.
Check-in with your mind and your colleagues
Make a point of regularly pausing to focus on how you and your colleagues are doing. You could complete a wellness action plan (WAP) and encourage your team to do the same. Click here for a resource that will help you make you very own WAP.
Leave work at work
The fact is, shifts are likely to be tough, and traumatic experiences do happen, especially during these times. Having a ‘going home checklist’ that you do before you leave the building can help you switch from work mode to home mode. You could do the following:
- Take a moment to think about the shift.
- Acknowledge three things that were difficult. Take any learning that is needed, then let them go.
- Consider three things that went well.
- Choose an action that signals the end of your shift. Something as easy as doing the same action when clocking out.
- Now switch your attention to home. Think about how you are now going to rest and recharge.
Make self-care a priority
Feeling guilty for taking time out for yourself is extremely common but is something that should be spoken about and encouraged so much more than it is! Actively taking care of yourself and your mental health, no matter what your profession, should NEVER be something you feel guilty about. You would never judge someone for doing it, so why judge yourself?
Why not set yourself a challenge of taking at least half an hour a day to do something you enjoy. Walking, playing golf, cycling, reading, watching TV, painting, have a bubble bath or even just sit in silence for that half an hour. Make time for you and make yourself a priority, no matter how hard this may be, and we guarantee you will feel happier about all the other aspects of your life.
Set yourself up to be able to take on any challenges that come your way. If you take care of yourself, there is nothing you cannot do.
The Nursing Standard released an article containing 5 of the best nursing podcasts to get you learning whilst you listen, so why not start with taking time out to listen to one of them:
Talk, talk and talk some more
It is a well-known fact that a problem shared is a problem halved. Talking about your feelings is so important when it comes to supporting your mental health. Now, we understand that this isn’t always easy, and many people find it difficult to talk about how they feel or simply don’t have anyone they can speak to. However, finding the courage to speak up will be one of the best decisions you ever make. You will feel as though a weight has been lifted and hopefully the person you chose to speak to will be able to support you. Failing that, you can always call us, and we will always be happy to listen to you and offer you the best possible support we can. We genuinely care about you and your wellbeing, and so we will always have your back.
If you still do not feel comfortable speaking out, you can always get in touch with one of the following:
Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems.
Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm)
Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.
Phone: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)
CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably. A charity providing a mental health helpline and webchat.
Phone: 0800 58 58 58 (daily, 5pm to midnight)
Provides information and support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities.
Remember – You are doing great!
Something we want you to NEVER forget is that you are doing great. You show up, you do your best and you give your all when it comes to caring for your patients. This is a difficult time and your feelings, no matter what they are, are valid and important. We think you are amazing, and you should think you are too!
Have you considered joining an agency?
If you have got to a point where work has left you feeling stressed and overwhelmed day in day out, then joining an agency could be exactly what you need. If you were to join Bluestones Medical, you would get:
- Your very own specialist consultant, trained to find you the best possible opportunities, offer you the best advice and support you in paving the career path you have always wanted.
- Flexibility – by joining Bluestones Medical you will have complete control over when and where you work by booking your shifts on the Sirenum app.
- Opportunity to become a member of our famous 5 club, offering you exclusive club benefits.
- Perkbox subscription giving you access to hundreds of brilliant discounts, cashback and free gifts!
- Competitive pay rates
- The best nursing and healthcare opportunities in line with your career aspirations.
- Access to industry-leading and accredited training.
- Open and honest communication and feedback.
- Cash rewards for recommending colleagues and friends.
- A reputable brand, with a track record for delivering exceptional care and customer service.
- You will have the advantage of the Bluestones Medical team’s knowledge and expertise anytime you need it.
- Most importantly – an appreciation and thank you for the hard work you do.
Our goal here at Bluestones Medical is to provide our candidates with the best possible opportunities whilst supporting them to meet their full potential. Tell us where you want to go, and we will do everything we can to get you there. We understand the importance of flexible working, which is why we have invested in the best technology that can facilitate you choosing when and where you work. We have received fantastic reviews based on our service which you can see for yourself over on our website and we are confident you will not be disappointed.