Back in March when COVID-19 became a pandemic I don’t believe we thought we were in this for the long haul. When we packed up our offices to work at home as instructed by the Government, I certainly thought we would be back in a few weeks and it was a bit of a fuss about nothing. How we live and learn!
We are hearing from members that you are exhausted, and that the pandemic has taken its toll on your physical and mental health and well-being. I am sure many of you are concerned about the current rise in cases and the possibility of a second wave.
Now more than ever we need to look after ourselves and our colleagues and continue to support one another in the amazing ways that we always do.
There was a really helpful publication in the Nursing Standard last week which can be seen here. It talks about what managers can do to support mental well-being in their teams and coping strategies for individuals who feel themselves getting stressed. The bit I liked the most though, was where a Trust in England have introduced ‘Wobble rooms’ into their clinical areas where staff can go in for a few minutes to share worries, say it out loud, have a little cry/ shout/ scream or just sit quietly.
It’s not just about mental health though – it is also about keeping as healthy as possible. We have all had shifts where we think we can’t leave our patients to take a break or even go to the bathroom. But if we don’t look after ourselves then it could affect our ability to care for patients’ long term. As I stated in a previous blog – the aeroplane adage – you have to put your own oxygen mask on first to be able to help others
It’s really important to take time out of a shift to rest, rehydrate and refuel and for us to give ourselves and others the permission to do so – sometimes just carrying on becomes the norm. There is some helpful advice on the RCN website at regarding heat stress and looking after your skin here. Also there is a web page which gives information, advice and support to help you with your mental well-being during the pandemic. Take a look here.
Should you feel you need more support you can access our member services including counselling on the link here. Or to make an appointment, you can call the RCN on 0345 772 6100. The counselling service operates over the telephone so you can access counselling at a time that suits you. One of our counsellors will phone you at an agreed time, as I understand at this present time the next available appointment is in 8 - 10 weeks.
I would be interested to hear your views on your health and wellbeing during the covid-19 pandemic.
Please tweet me – @nichughes1 – or email Communications.Wales@rcn.org.uk
Look after yourselves and take time out for you – you deserve it.