As someone who works in the mental health sector, this topic is close to my heart. Many careers and jobs involve caring for others in various ways, and in situations such as the one created by the novel Coronavirus, we might need a few reminders on how to take care of ourselves, whilst caring for others. So, whether you are currently working non-stop to support your community, or know somebody who is, these tips might be just what you need to see!
- Drink water & eat balanced meals.
Simple right?! 12 hours shifts in homes & hospitals, hours stacking supermarket aisles, listening to back to back calls in call centres…it can get overwhelming enough to make us forget the simplest of things such as drinking water and eating balanced meals. You DO NOT want to be dehydrated and in a low mood due to lack of proper nutrition during this time.
That being said, allow yourself to indulge sometimes and not feel guilty for doing so!
I am not trying to be obvious on purpose I swear! Working in a setting that involves caring for others in addition situations like these, can mean that everyday activities fuel anxiety. Breathing techniques help with reducing anxiety by triggering changes in your nervous system.
To ensure that you are taking deep breaths, place one hand on your chest and one on your belly. Find a comfortable position, inhale deeply through your nose, letting your belly fill with air then breathe out slowly through your nose. Your belly should rise as you breathe in and lower as you breathe out; if it does no, then your breathing might be too shallow. Repeat this 3 to 5 times.
Thanks to technology, you can also find ways to use different breathing techniques to self-calm on various mobile apps.
3. Set boundaries
if you feel it’s too much to go home and keep on hearing about the current situation, speak up & tell the people around you that you need to shut off for a while after work. It is ok to refuse answering questions about your day or refuse to give updates about information you have.
4. Plan your break
This is especially important if you’re barely getting a break at work. Decide on what it is you want to do when you get home and make sure you do it. Selfcare is especially important right now. Whether you want to read a chapter from your favourite book, watch an episode or bake some treats – do something relaxing that makes you feel good. This will help your mind avoid the feeling of work – home – sleep – repeat!
5. Reach out
There is a lot of support in our community, whether it’s your own family & friends, your colleagues or confidential chats with professionals. Make use of the best channel for you and let those around you know that you need support right now too! Whether it’s asking someone for time to vent, to cook you a meal when you’re too tired or to give you some space – be aware of your needs and communicate them or otherwise you run the risk of ignoring them altogether.
Michaela Pace is a Psychology graduate from the University of Malta. She has worked with children and adolescents within the social sector and currently works as a Triage Officer and Chat Bar Coordinator within Willingness Team. Michaela aims to further her studies locally by pursuing a Masters in Gestalt Psychotherapy in the near future.