Like all healthcare professionals around the world, our team here at Ochsner Health is working tirelessly to care for our patients during the coronavirus outbreak. We, too, are also balancing the needs of our communities, our families and ourselves.
Given the uncertainty of this pandemic, it is normal to feel stressed and worried as we take care of others. But we must also remember that we cannot take care of others unless we’re also taking care of ourselves.
To keep your mental health in check, consider incorporating the following recommendations into your daily life.
Think "Maslow’s Hierarchy"
It is hard to care for patients when we are worried about childcare, not sleeping well or forgetting to eat.
Solution: Be sure to prioritize time for your basic and important needs. Eat well, schedule time with your family and prioritize sleep. Actively communicate your needs to your leaders and team members rather than "sucking it up" until you are burned out.
If you’re an Ochsner employee, you can take advantage of our free childcare solutions at multiple locations. For any specific questions about childcare, please reach out directly to Kidcam Camp.
Urgent requests and frequent changes cause us to feel frayed and frenetic. Intentionally slow yourself down.
Solution: When you switch between tasks or start a new one (leaving a patient room, preparing to make a phone call or responding to an email), do some mindful breathing for 10 seconds. This will reset your autonomic nervous system and will help you center yourself.
Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to take regular breaks, even if they’re only a couple minutes. During your break, consider using a meditation app rather than mindlessly scrolling through Instagram.
Constant use of social networking sites may increase stress, so consider decreasing screen time. Spending excessive amounts of time on your phone late at night could also lead to problems falling asleep, which could in turn lead to worsened feelings of anxiety or even depression.
For the latest updates on COVID-19, visit: Ochsner.org/coronavirus
Social distancing, quarantines, closed restaurants, stressed out coworkers and worrying about catching the virus keep us all at a distance. We can feel isolated and at the same time annoyed about having to spend “too much” time with others.
Solution: Be intentional about calling, video chatting and other means of interaction with your loved ones. At work, check in with your colleagues, text each other funny family photos or even connect over lunch via Skype.
Keep your routines and structure in place
This pandemic has thrown our cherished routines (exercise, family meals, school drop-off) out of the window.
Solution: Schedule important routines at home and work. For instance, you may have to move your workout to a different time, but don’t stop doing it. Family dinner together may need to be shortened based on competing priorities, but keep this time, even if it’s only 15 minutes.
Maintain your healthy habits
Gyms are closed and a bottle of wine sounds like a good way to relax during these trying times, but we need to stay well.
Solution: Sign up for virtual exercise classes. Keep a gratitude journal and write down one thing you are grateful for each morning and evening. Maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet. Minimize your intake of alcohol and junk food.