Staying Mentally and Physically Healthy during the Ongoing COVID 19 Pandemic

We as nurses are constantly hearing terms such as “burnout”, “The Great Resignation”, “understaffed” and leaving for higher-paying travel jobs. As a nurse myself, I truly understand the need for nurses who have been both on the front lines and the administration that has been dealing with COVID-19 for the past two years.  With the constant coverage from social media and the news, it is hard as healthcare professionals to take a break and shut off from what we face daily.  Instead of trying to cope on your own, leave the profession or develop self-destructive coping mechanisms, I want to open this forum to discuss options to help all of us “help each other”.  Someone once said that it’s not about work-life balance but work-life integration…. think about that. 

Here are a few tips I have used to assist me over the past year to integrate my work and life:
  • Once a week take a least an hour for yourself.  Turn off your phone and news.  Try meditating and remind yourself of a time that brings you happiness.
  • Spoil yourself.  Get a mani and pedi, 😊
  • Use your paid time off and do a “staycation”.  I know this is a hot topic because many organizations are no longer allowing STD claims for being out with COVID, but your sanity is worth at least two days.
  • Look into free resources your company may offer.  Many organizations have employee assistance and free virtual therapy sessions.  It is ok to need to talk to someone.  
  • Develop strong interpersonal relationships with your fellow co-workers. You do see them more than you see some of your family.  Do a night out and go bowling or something the group all enjoys outside of work.
  • Get an adequate amount of sleep.  Sleep is vital to help you stay focused and healthy.
  • Take care of your physical health.  I have never been a gym person, but I found taking my dalmatian, Dottie, on walks around the lake helped me relax and not only have time to self-reflect but also get in those much-needed steps.  Just getting started is a move in the right direction.
  •  Start a journal and write down stressors that you were faced with that day
  • Be comfortable saying NO.  You know yourself best and if you are starting to experience burnout, implement a strategy to get back to what makes you happy.

In conclusion, there is a reason nursing has been recognized as the most trusted profession for 19 years in a row.  We are strong and we always do what is best for those we are providing care for.  Feel free to comment and share your suggestions on what you do to stay mentally and physically healthy as we face the pandemic together as nurses.

 Kevin Harris, Msn-HCSM, RN, NE-BC

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