Written by: Erika del Pozo, MOT, OTR/L and founder of Joy Energy Time
1. Make sure your basic needs are covered
During this pandemic, it’s important to know exactly what you’ll need to do your job well and to keep yourself and your patients safe. You’ll need proper materials such as personal protective equipment (PPE) when working with patients, along with other sufficient and essential equipment and tools (i.e. ventilators). Don’t forget other important factors such as adequate staffing ratios, sufficient breaks, food and water while on the job (and a crowd favorite: coffee!). Having the essentials may be difficult to come by these days, and you might not have everything you need. Remember, your health and safety come first–if you’re not healthy, someone that doesn’t have your training may have to step in.
2. Set up a routine with small, tangible wins
When everything feels upside down, it’s important that we embrace the power of our habits, routines and rituals to help keep us feeling grounded. I, personally, love ‘bookending’–establishing healthy routines in the mornings and evenings to bookend your day. Since we’re all feeling like we’re in survival mode, the key here is to go for quality over quantity.
What little promise can you make that you can keep each day to feel successful every day? Maybe it’s a goal to do a 10-minute meditation before you head out for work, or a 30-minute online yoga session after your shift, followed by 15 minutes of reading a book. Prioritize your mental and physical health, even if the most you can do right now is less than what you’re used to doing by going after small, tangible wins. You can hold yourself accountable by scheduling dates with yourself to meditate, workout, etc. in your planner or on your phone, writing down your wins in a journal or sharing them with a friend or posting on social media.
3. Access mental health support
Take advantage of the Employee Assistance Program at work or seek out virtual visits with a licensed mental health professional. There are a lot of emotions going on right now, and everything you are feeling is valid. You can feel multiple things at once–you can be both scared and optimistic, both anxious and cheerful. You’re not alone–seeking mental health support can help you get through these unusual times. Download these Patient Break Cards to add some relief, encouragement and calmness for you and your team throughout the workday.
4. Stay connected with loved ones
Human beings are social beings. Don’t forget about social support, especially in this period of social distancing. In fact, think of it as physical distancing more than social distancing. Set up regular daily or weekly check-in calls, texts or video chats with friends, family and loved ones. You can set up watch parties with your loved ones through Netflix Party to watch your favorite shows or movies together and have a group chat going on.
5. Communication is key
Frequent communication can help you and your team feel in the loop with all the changes going on. Bonus: before your shift, hold a mini mindfulness huddle with your team and/or a debriefing huddle at the end of your shift.
6. Reframe your mindset
Locus of control (LOC) refers to how inclined someone is to believe that they have control over their life circumstances. Nurses and emergency responders with high external LOC experience greater job stress. Internal LOC is correlated with increased well-being, performance and confidence in solving work problems. The goal is to cultivate a greater internal LOC. You can implement mini mindful moments throughout the day to check-in with yourself and observe how you are handling challenges at work–do you tend to give up or avoid problems, or do you make plans to problem-solve and seek out instrumental support?
7. Show appreciation and spread humor
You and your team members are going into overtime, so frequent acts of kindness go a long way: surprise-ordering a round of coffee for the team, organizing the supply closet, air-fiving each other or doing a ‘foot-shake’ video for TikTok can be fun and simple ways to spread kindness and cheer. Never under-estimate the power of a simple “thank you” either. Doing small helpful acts, showing appreciation and incorporating humor when possible will lift everyone’s spirits.
8. Celebrate your wins
What were your wins this week? I believe that there’s no such thing as over-celebrating. It’s especially important to acknowledge our wins during this time, even if they seem insignificant. You work hard, and you deserve to celebrate yourself. You can celebrate getting through the week with a date night with yourself, baking a yummy treat, engaging in a creative project or planning out your dream vacation when life returns back to normal. Maintaining normalcy when you can and carving out parts of your week to replenish your mind, body and soul will help to reduce work strain and thus help keep burnout at bay.
Want more tips and joy to start your week? Sign up to join Joy Energy Time’s healthcare network and receive a bi-weekly newsletter to start your Mondays feeling inspired and energized. When this is all over, we’ll get you back to the beach in no time for a well-deserved, relaxing getaway.