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How to prioritise your wellbeing

Taking care of others is at the heart of every healthcare professional’s responsibilities. Yet, many of you don’t make time to prioritise your wellbeing and take care of your own mental health. The COVID-19 pandemic has put healthcare workers in unprecedented situations, having to make incredibly difficult clinical decisions and work under immense pressures.

If you feel overwhelmed, it is important to seek support. Talk to your colleagues, manager, family, or someone you trust about how you are feeling. You are not alone. Your colleagues are likely experiencing similar emotions and you can support each other through this.

Be compassionate and kind to yourself and others and remember, it’s OK not to be OK.

Practical tips to implement

Our Mental Health Clinical Specialist, Vicki, shares 5 practical tips on how to prioritise your mental wellbeing during this difficult time:

  1. Take care of your basic needs. Ensure you get enough rest and respite during work or between shifts.
  2. Eat sufficient and healthy food (although it’s perfectly fine to treat yourself every so often!). I personally have an emergency tub of Haagen-Dazs in the bottom of my freezer – for emergencies only of course..!
  3. Engage in physical activity. You don’t need to run a marathon (although kudos to you if you can!), but exercise improves mood. Physical activity stimulates brain chemicals and leaves you feeling happier and more relaxed. This provides an emotional lift and reduces stress, which can be especially helpful in alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety. So grab your trainers and go for a walk, or stick on your favourite song and dance like no one’s watching!
  4. Laughter. It may not be on your usual self-care list but laughter really is the best medicine. Laughing helps to reduce inflammation and stress hormones, improve circulation, and enhance the immune system. Watch a funny movie, have a giggle with your friends and laugh those worries away.
  5. Stay in contact with family and friends. This is so important. A common theme in this pandemic has been isolation. If you find yourself needing to isolate, keep in regular communication with people and arrange a face-to-face catch up when you can.

There are also lots of support services and resources that you can access when needed.

Support services and resources

The Cavell Nurses Trust
Assists nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants suffering personal or financial hardship. You can call Cavell on 01527 595 999.

Royal College of Nursing (RCN)
Offers a free counselling service for members. To access this counselling, call 0345 722 6100. The RCN also offers a specific trauma counselling service (0345 722 6100). This is offered on a first-come, first-served basis; they currently have funding until January 2022.

COVID-19 and your mental health
A dedicated hub for nurses with plenty of resources and guidance to support your mental wellbeing during the pandemic. Also, if you have to self-isolate, we have some tips to help you look after your mental health.

The Samaritans
Offers dedicated helplines for health and social care workers throughout England and Wales. These are open every day 07.00-23.00 on the following numbers:

  • England: 0800 069 6222
  • Wales (English line): 0800 484 0555
  • Wales (Welsh line): 08081642777

Just B
Just B has joined forces with Hospice UK to provide a counselling and trauma helpline for healthcare workers requiring support with bereavement, trauma and emotional support. The helpline is open every day from 08.00-20.00.

Mental Health at Work
This charity has teamed up with Shout, Samaritans, Mind, Hospice UK and the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to offer round-the-clock one-to-one support by call or text, and an abundance of resources.

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