“You need to care for yourself, before you can care for others”
Being resilient is about your body and brain – they are connected. To cope effectively we need to take care of both. Self-care is vital during challenging situation as without it, we are more likely to make poor decisions, suffer from stress, burnout, and longer term physical and psychological effects. The scale of the current situation means that we are more likely to neglect ourselves as we try to respond. Whilst it’s sometimes hard to do, looking after ourselves enables us to be more resilient.
Things I can do
- Be energised from physical exercise. Make sure that you build time for physical activity into every day. This may become difficult, so find creative ways of doing this that work for you. If you are at home, consider online fitness videos. Take a walk if you can, even if it’s in the garden or round the block at work. This will help to clear your head, energise you, and give you renewed focus.
- Eat well. As much as you can, maintain a healthy and balanced diet. Our usual foods may not be available or become harder to access. Try to plan ahead and take advantage of food delivery services and healthcare staff specific shopping schemes.
- Take a break. We are more productive if we find short periods of time to step away from what we’re doing, even for just a few minutes.
- Rest and relax your body. Find time to recuperate. Aim to have a good amount of sleep, or at the very least find time for a period of rest. This will give you the energy you need to be able to continue doing a good job. If you find it hard to sleep, do something away from your bedroom, such as read a book, some mindfulness exercises, or something you enjoy, until you feel tired enough to try again.
- Rest and relax your mind. Just as your body needs time to recuperate, so does your mind. Take your mind off things by doing things that you enjoy, that distract you, that enable you to be creative, give you a chance to reflect, or just a chance to switch off. Disengage from the news, social media or things that make you feel stressed, or just check these once a day, sticking to credible sources. Consider trying out mindfulness tools that will enable you to feel grounded, relaxed and in the present.
- Be thankful for the small things. In normal circumstances, we often gauge our successes and motivation by our big achievements. When facing challenging situations, this becomes harder. Instead, focus on the things that you appreciate, however small. At the end of each day, try and think of at least 3 things that you feel positive about. Writing a journal can help.
- Be kind to yourself. We all want to do the best we can do, however in highly challenging situations it is impossible to be perfect. Be compassionate to yourself when unexpected things happen by reminding yourself what you did achieve.
- Listen to your emotions. Notice your emotions and aim to name and understand what’s causing them rather than just react to how you are feeling. Doing this helps you step back, reflect and think about how to best respond.
- Reframe anxiety. Whilst it is normal to feel anxious during this time, too much anxiety can have negative consequences for our health and wellbeing. Use breathing exercises or mindfulness to deal with physical symptoms of anxiety. Reframe any overly negative thoughts into more realistic and positive ones, which will help you to feel more in control.
- If you feel unwell, seek help. Whether it’s your body or your mind, seeking help early will prevent bigger problems later. It’s ok to look after yourself.
Questions to ask myself
- How can I fit exercise into my ongoing routine?
- How can I eat as healthily as possible?
- How can I take a break, even at very busy times?
- What do I enjoy doing that energises me? How can I do more of this?
- What 3 good things have happened today?
- What did I learn from the challenging situations I dealt with today?
- What am I feeling and what’s causing these feelings? How do I want to respond to them positively?
- What helps me feel less anxious right now? How can I manage any overly negative thoughts?
- Where can I get help with my physical and mental wellbeing if I need it, and what will trigger me to ask for this help?