As we move out of restrictions, change is in the air. There is more traffic on the roads. Days are longer. Excitement is building. However, there are many undercurrents of stress. Some are exhausted. Most are more stressed than we were 15 months ago. While all are probably eager to get our lives on a good track, moods and challenges are different.
Research commissioned and recently published by the Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation (INMO) shows the severe impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the mental health of healthcare workers. The vast majority (91%) of nurses and midwives who responded to the survey said they experienced mental exhaustion while off-duty and 61% thought of leaving their profession due to the impact of it on their mental health.
So many others from different professions have been stressed because they have not been working and are eager to get back to a busier pace of life.
As we get ready to transition and move toward a new normal, we should do so with awareness. The last year has impacted us all differently. Generally over 60 % say their mental health has deteriorated and only 4% say it has improved. Some are more financially strained. Others are more mentally stressed. For some it is more physical. And yet others have felt lonely and isolated. For most adversely affected, it is a combination. We all respond differently when under stress. Some people I know eat more. Others eat less. We may be different in our response. But what we have in common is that stress takes its toll in so many ways.
As we move back to a busier pace of life, it is key to remember to take time to look after yourself and be more mindful of others along the way. Change has always been a source of stress.
Everything is connected. Our financial wellbeing affects our mental wellbeing. And our mental wellbeing affects our physical wellbeing. A stressed mind affects our breathing and also creates tension in the body. Our environment affects us and we have an impact on the people around us. So you can be at your best as you transition to the next phase here are 7 self care tips to keep you well.
1. Environment - Organise your home and office in a way that works for you.
2. Develop a new routine that works for you in which your needs and drives are being met each day - for certainty, fun, food, exercise, learning, love, connection and creativity.
3. Take proper rest and sleep daily - The Sports equation for peak performance says that stress + rest = Growth. Without rest we don't recharge our batteries and we burnout.
4. Learn to shift gears mentally. So many of us have been operating in 5th gear mentally for months on end trying to manage, anticipate and solve various problems. Meditation, breathing practices and mindfulness are all great tools to help you slow down and focus. This helps with feeling fresh during the day and sleeping soundly at night.
5. Live within your means financially.
6. Be positive and be present. Achievement, happiness and joy only happen in the moment. They say anxiety comes from thinking too much about the future and depression about the past.
7. Keep Learning every day. Limit talk about the new C word. Bond with people over things you love and enjoy.
Everything is connected. As we move out of where we have been, be kind to yourself in the process. Be patient and give enough time to taking care of you each day.