While you’re taking care of your patients’ well-being, it’s important to keep your own well-being in mind as well. The COVID-19 pandemic may be causing you more stress than usual, just as it is for many others. It’s important to keep your own mental health in mind during this time. Here are some tips for reducing COVID-19 stress.
7 tips to help you avoid provider burnout
We’ve discussed before how prevalent physician burnout is, and how important it is to make sure you’re doing well mentally. Right now, it’s more important than ever to keep tabs on your mental health. If you find yourself stressed, here are some ways to cope:
- Take action against anxiety. Action is one of the best ways to resolve anxiety and help you feel more in control. Sharing your worries with colleagues, family, and friends is one action you can take that can have multiple benefits. Talking about your concerns can be helpful in and of itself, and it can also help you and your loved ones develop more ways to reduce your stress.
- Pace yourself. It can be tempting to keep working until you physically or mentally can’t, but it’s bad for your health to let it get that far. Excessive fatigue, irritability, poor concentration, and higher than usual stress are signs that you need to take a moment to help yourself, so watch out for them. In addition, make sure you’re eating a good diet and getting enough sleep.
- Breathe. Each day, give yourself a few moments to take some slow, deep breaths. During these moments, tell yourself to “slow down” or “stay calm.” You can do this before entering a patient room or procedure, washing your hands, or eating. These small moments can reap great health benefits.
- Keep moving. Exercise is a well-known stress reducer. At home, you can walk, run, bike, or follow a virtual workout or visit a virtual gym. At work, you can walk or run a flight of stairs or do jumping jacks or run in place in short bursts. These bursts of activity can mitigate the effects of chronic stress response activation.
- Stay connected. Keep in touch with your family, friends, and colleagues to reduce feelings of isolation. Meaningful and frequent contact with loved ones will give you the emotional support you need to enjoy better mental health, even if this contact is virtual.
- Give yourself a break. Mental health breaks during especially long work days can work wonders for your well-being. Take a minute to yourself, whether that means taking a walk or sitting quietly. When you’re not at work, make sure you’re getting enough downtime. Recharge with activities like reading, watching TV or movies, or playing games with family or friends. Practice mindfulness techniques to further manage your stress.
- Be flexible. The health care landscape has changed drastically ever since the pandemic began. Uncertainly and change will likely be a feature of life for the foreseeable future, meaning you may end up having to modify your usual approach to continue meeting your patients’ needs. Let yourself be flexible and responsive, and ask for support when you need it.