Frontline workers and caregivers have always been a vital part of our society.
While providing care to others frontline workers need to practice self-care as well, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Frontline workers provide the necessary care people require in order to continue with their day-to-day lives. Due to COVID-19, now more than ever frontline workers such as nurses, personal support workers, staff supporting hospital, long-term care and retirement homes, and caregivers are needed.
If you are a caregiver or a frontline worker you may be experiencing emotional and physical fatigue. It is important to take care of your body and mind while you are taking care of others.
As frontline workers and caregivers, it can be easy to put the needs of others before your own. With the responsibility of providing care to others, you may be putting yourself at risk of emotional distress, anxiety and depression. A study of 1,257 health care workers in China showed that 50.4% of participants had symptoms of depression, 44.6% had anxiety, 34.0% reported insomnia, and 71.5% reported feelings of emotional distress.
Your mental and emotional well-being are important. Here are some useful tips to help foster a positive mental outlook during these trying times:
- Practice self-monitoring to see where you are at mentally and physically
- Take brief relaxation and stress management breaks
- Consult with your co-workers and supervisors regularly
- Take time-outs for basic physical care and refreshment
- Regularly seek out accurate information and mentoring to assist with your decision making
- Focus your efforts on what is within your power
- Accept the situations that you cannot change
Taking care of yourself is important in order for you to take care of others. Self-care is not selfish, it is necessary. The Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress suggests taking these steps in order to sustain your sense of well-being:
- Be sure to eat, drink and sleep regularly
- Whenever possible, do something unrelated to work that you find comforting such as drinking a warm soothing cup of tea, reading a book, watching a movie, making a nice dinner or going outside for a walk to get some fresh air
- Recognize when you need time for yourself vs. when you need to reach out to your support network
- Stay up-to-date with trusted sources for information but also limit your exposure to graphic images or worrisome statistics
- Honour your service. Remind yourself that your work is important, valued and appreciated
Currently Canadians are called to practice social distancing and self-isolation. This can be difficult during uncertain times as that is when we need our support systems the most. You may not be able to connect with your friends and family physically but thanks to modern day technology, reaching out is just a click away.
Connect with your loved ones using the following methods:
- Phone calls
- Video chats
- Online board games
- Group texting
Find out more about staying connected during COVID-19 by reading our blog post here.
These are difficult times but you are not alone. There are resources available to assist you should you need it. The Government of Canada’s mental health support can be accessed here. Resources include crisis help links and the Hope for Wellness hotline.
Spectrum Health Care has compiled a toolkit of resources that are available to help you take care of your body and mind while you take care of others. You can access the toolkit here.
We at Spectrum thank you for the care that you are providing. Take care of yourself, stay healthy and safe.