A Guide to Self-Care for Nurses & Healthcare Workers During COVID-19
Self-Care for Nurses, Doctors, and Healthcare Workers During the Pandemic
Healthcare workers are on the frontlines working with patients who have COVID-19. It is more important for us to keep ourselves healthy on a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level. Self-care for nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals can be the difference between a continued fight and physician burnout.
Are you looking for ways to take care of yourself during an unprecidented period of stress and overwhelm? From taking a break, to adopting healthy habits, to a safer kind of getaway here are a few of our best self-care tips for those of us on the frontlines, plus a bunch of resources to help you get through.
Helpful Self-Care Tips for Healthcare Heroes
Maintain a healthy amount of curiosity without overwhelming yourself with news and articles. Try to limit your information to the most credible sources. Be careful of rumors and false reports, and always check your sources. Identify easy ways to stay informed. Make the websites of CDC and WHO a favorite on your browser so you can easily access those pages.
Take Time Away
As much as it is important to keep informed, it is also important to take a complete mental and emotional break from the entire pandemic and news cycle. Self care for nurses and other healtcare workers includes finding activities that remove you from the stress of work or the constant thoughts of COVID-19. Seek out things that really bring you joy: talking on the phone with a friend, going for a walk, watching a movie, playing a game, listening to your favorite music, etc.
Set Up a Simple Daily Routine
It can be easy during these times of constant change and uncertainty to feel overwhelmed. Try to set up a simple daily routine that helps your mind to focus. Keep your schedule fairly consistent when it comes to bedtimes, meals, and activities. A few helpful questions to ask:
- What am I grateful for today?
- Who am I connecting with today?
- What expectations of normal am I letting go of?
Take Care of Your Body
Physical health is going to be very important during these times. A self-care practice for nurses and other healthcare workers is to set up a routine at least 5 days a week where you are physically moving your body: walking, running, yoga, pilates.
There are plenty of ways to stay physical while observing social distancing. Wellness tips even more important during these stressful times:
- Eat a wholesome diet that is plant-based with minimal sugar. Avoid sodas and alcohol.
- Get 7-8 hrs of restful sleep each night (try meditation Apps on the phone like Calm or Headspace)
- Set up a daily workout routine that involves a variety of activities and includes outings in nature.
Connect with Loved Ones
Develop a plan for maintaining contact with friends and family members. In this moment, your self-care routine should include regular virtual check-ins with friends and family. Ask others how they are handling their stress and what is helping them. Share resources, tips, and suggestions. A few ideas on how you might connect with loved ones during the pandemic are…
- Hosting a virtual meal, happy hour, book club or party with friends/family
- Picking a loved one to check in with daily- 10 Questions to Ask
- Creating a virtual game night
Family members are often afraid that their loved one is on the front lines. Take time to discuss feelings and address fears around COVID-19. Share specific information about the disease but also share steps that are being taken on a local and global scale to help protect people from the virus. Share what your plan is to stay healthy while working during this pandemic. Clarify any misinformation and check-in with your family on a regular basis about how they are feeling and what is coming up for them in terms of fears, concerns, questions, etc.
Self care for healthcare workers means finding healthy ways to cope with your own stress. Remember you are a role model for your children.
Making Time for a Vacation or Retreat
While travel has been significantly limited due to the pandemic, many healthcare professionals rely on it to give them a sense of relaxation and space from their day-to-day. This is a moment where travel should be undertaken safely, but it is still possible to get away for a bit.
You might consider a hike or camping trip in a remote area. Go for a little road trip, ensuring that you have all that you need before setting out to avoid spreading infection to neighboring communities. And if you’re looking for something more intensive, you might consider a longer medical trip or retreat, like our 2021 Wellness & Yoga Retreat in Sayulita. Done responsibly, travel can still be a part of the self-care for nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals.
Accepting & Redirecting
There is a lot of normalcy that is being lost among our lives right now. We are working through an unprecedented pandemic without much guidance. Feelings of grief, fear, boredom, loneliness, anxiety, stress and even panic can be all part of the reaction from this current situation. Recognize these feelings as normal. Accept them. Make sure to breathe deeply with these emotions. Be flexible with expectations. Shift your priorities to focus on what gives you joy or purpose.
Redefining Purpose & Finding Ways to Give Back
Self-care for nurses, doctors, and other frontline workers should also include finding new ways of getting purpose. While your work is tremendously purposeful and meaningful, it shouldn’t be your only source of purpose. Some ideas that you might integrate purpose or charity into your daily life are…
- Design a small garden, grow your food- even if it is in a small planter
- Check-in with elderly neighbors – offer help with groceries, small tasks
- Write letters or create cards and send them to people in nursing homes
Extra Self-Care and Setting Yourself Up for Healthy Success
- Make a meal plan for the week – get inspired by recipes from Pinterest or other online recipes
- Create a tech-free space in your home with your favorite items – pillows, books, blankets, candles, essential oils, twinkle lights, and speakers.
- Create a home gym dedicated to movement: yoga mat, tennis ball, strap, towel, water bottle
- Develop a cleaning/sanitizing routine in your home, especially after returning from work. Here’s a list of EPA COVID-19 Cleaning Products
More Helpful Resources for Self-Care During the Pandemic
Online working/learning in the time of COVID-19
Parenting in the Time of COVID-19
Quarantine with Kids