Why Nurses Must Prioritize Self-Care
Healthcare workers are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. As if working in a hospital wasn’t already stressful, working in a hospital during a global pandemic has reached the next level of stress. It’s exhausting to keep up with policy changes and the ever-evolving information on COVID-19 precautions while working overtime to care for patients.
Compassion fatigue is real. Given the challenges brought on by COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to care for your mental health. If work has been too stressful for too long, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. A licensed therapist can offer you a safe environment and the tools you need to stay sane when it feels the world has gone mad.
An Influx of Change
Healthcare professionals had to adjust rapidly to the new normal. As more and more patients poured into COVID-19 wards across the country, nurses had no choice but to rise to the occasion. We’re not out of the woods yet, either – healthcare workers may continue to work long hours under stressful conditions for many months to come.
Compassion fatigue is nothing new for nurses. Workplace burnout happens to us all, but for healthcare workers, the impact can cause serious harm to our mental health. With so much pressure to perform, it’s no wonder so many nurses are feeling overwhelmed. Symptoms of compassion fatigue may include depression, anxiety, guilt, anger, hypervigilance, indifference, and a loss of boundaries.
When’s the last time you took care of you? It’s time.
Support via Self-Care
Just as airline attendants instruct passengers to put on their own oxygen masks before helping others in a crash scenario, it’s important to help yourself before helping patients. While it may feel selfish at first, taking time for oneself is one of the best ways to re-energize before heading back to work.
So what does self-care look like for nurses working in the COVID-19 era? It differs from person to person, of course. An early morning walk while listening to a podcast might be the thing you need to escape from work stress. A long weekend away with your partner could help boost your energy levels and get you ready to take on new vaccine initiatives at work. Naps, meditation, bubble baths, and stretching can all do wonders to relieve tension.
When Self-Care Isn’t Enough
Serious challenges call for serious support. When self-care isn’t enough, therapy may help. Sessions with a licensed therapist can help ease symptoms of compassion fatigue and help you overcome the long-term impacts COVID-19 has had on your personal and professional life. Navigating this new normal can be challenging, but you don’t have to do it alone.