Delighted to be asked to write a blog for the WARD team. But honestly, as I put pen to paper in our current early stages of pandemic here in Somerset…where do I start?
Many are using the analogy of ‘It’s a marathon not a sprint’. But that is utterly unachievable (yes even for all you Lycra clad ultra-runners / triathletes). Shahina Braganza ED consultant and a twitter friend from the Gold Coast in Australia used a better phrase describing it like a relay, you have to be able to pass the baton over. So, how about we think about maintaining our wellbeing by combining the two – a marathon relay.
We can then think about wellbeing at work during a shift alongside the wellbeing between shifts and on days off. I use the analogy of a battery on your phone. We drain and recharge at work and home. We are often much more diligent at plugging in our phones to recharge than addressing our own energy levels!
Wellbeing at work
So much has been written about this and there are some excellent resources specific to this time (see further reading below). The building blocks are:
· Breaks and sleep if on nights
· Food and fluids
· Psychological safety
· Psychological support
Wellbeing at home
At home we also need to prioritise our own wellbeing more than ever. As an athlete prepares for a marathon, so must we. The best place to start is by prioritising our usual strategies. Clearly some of these may not be available to us, due to the need for physical distancing. However, the fundamental one is – sleep. Talking about how important sleep is and knowing the strategies we should be doing to improve, it is not enough. We need to ensure we try and prioritise it. I appreciate with shifts this is very challenging but there are things that can help. See below for some useful links.
Perhaps a new area of concern for me, is needing to get some perspective and proportion to the constant news feed via social media. In a world of 24-hour news, social media, text and what’s app groups everyone has an opinion or something to say. I have applied some pretty strict ground rules to myself to help keep a sense of proportion. When home just hearing or reading the word corona virus can be very triggering. So mute notifications, set a time for looking at news and a time for deliberately switching off. If feeling anxious then book a ‘worry slot’ in the day. Allow yourself to worry in that time but then avoid and try not to at other times.
Out of all of this, has also come the best of human nature. We in the NHS, are currently in the spotlight as never before. It is very humbling to read and hear about the amazing support we have. Random acts of kindness from those in our communities truly helps. But we also have the capacity for some kindness and generosity back. Yes, we are busy and stretched but a way of reviewing our often distorted sense of things can be to phone an elderly neighbour or help in more practical ways. Acts of kindness benefit not only the receiver but also the giver. Write a thank you