If you are feeling uncertain, guilty, scared, angry, fatigued, etc. If you are frustrated policies and protocols keep changing, PPE is a precarious resource, the leadership team is vague on length of this process, and you have obligations to your family. Considerations to your own children, obtain groceries, and friends, church, and anyone outside your household are kept at 2 metres (6.5 feet). The world we knew has transformed in the past few weeks to one with overwhelming financial losses, jobs idled by the millions, witness to tragedies as vulnerable people succumb to COVID-19 and the peak has not arrived.
There is a dichotomy of so much information available through news media, social media, and word of mouth and there is also lack of transparency as leaders turn vague on isolation protocols for staff exposed to COVID-19, when can staff access respirator masks, and who is essential and who has to shelter in place?
Nurses in emergency and critical care are witnesses to the impact of isolation, whereby patients do not have family support, and when there is a decline of a patient’s status it is the nurses who are the surrogates of empathy, daresay love, and administer the process of moving from life to death. Inpatient units are not removed from this process and all of our nursing team need to be observed and supported as they experience unprecedented fatigue (physical and emotional), moral distress, and burnout. We face a generational impact on nurses of post traumatic stress disorder that cannot be calculated at this time.
“Need a structured recovery process for the health-care team”Paula Manuel 2020
The concept of self care is a key one, as waiting for the pandemic to end is not viable we need a structured recovery process for the health-care team. Leadership need to be visible to the frontline staff, as a pandemic is not the ideal time to initiate team development, build trust, and virtual town halls agreed a good strategy; cannot be the extent of connecting to the staff. Here are some strategies to consider; and feel free to submit more I don’t attest to know all the ways one can sustain self care and empathy for others:
- Practice good sleep routine so you can physically recover
- Reframe your perfection meter (nothing is perfect) allow others to help you with household chores
- Food prep
- Learn and/or practice mindfulness to experience the moment, to breathe (Square breathing), feel gratitude, pray
- Everyday acknowledge the event(s) that were bad, identify the feeling (sad, frustrated, angry etc.) feel the feeling, and then let it go. Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for your enemy to die–won’t happen. Forgiveness is more powerful and keep in mind we’re all learning and we’re all imperfect human beings
- Keep a journal and jot a few minutes of thoughts, feelings so when we’re in the future you can look back and see how far you have grown
- Spend time with people you care about, share a meal, have a “Facetime” call, avoid the constant barrage of news–limit your intake to 30 minutes and then spend your time at a hobby, play an instrument, go for a walk
- At work take your breaks, ensure colleagues take a break, keep hydrated, respond instead of react if something is unclear ask questions, rumours be hesitant in belief until they’re confirmed
- Share your experiences as the public have no reference to know what you do, start with your family, close friends, maybe you don’t need free coffee, meals, but the public want to acknowledge your incredible service. You are going to work in the middle of the pandemic zone, accept the accolades this is a generational series of events
- If someone you know is on 14 day isolation, set up a supply chain of groceries, daresay wine or other adult beverages, cleaning supplies, phone calls etc
- Post in workplace lounge humour items, memes, cartoons, stories, jokes, even a happy face to lift spirits and include what went right items. Reflect on what is positive these thoughts will flood the body with positive endorphins and these eat up stress hormones
There are many positives to this current situation, families are spending time together, chores there was no time for can finally move to the completed list. The pace of life has slowed down, neighbours are a shout away and a walk has taken on a simple pleasure to enjoy the wind, less pollution. We can acknowledge the tragedies of death tolls experienced by our closest neighbours the USA and overseas in Europe and China, we can be Canadian and exhibit our strengths by leaving flowers by LTCs where death has robbed loved ones of more time. We can celebrate health-care workers #Togetherwecandoit and Cheer4healthworkers. We can quietly enjoy a cup of tea on a balcony or patio (at home) and ponder on the meaning of all these pandemic activities. I leave you now with this tribute to those who are essential workers thank you and Namaste.
Square breathing: breathe in 4 seconds, hold 4 seconds, breathe out 4 seconds repeat 20 times. You will be relaxed, asleep whatever it helps.Meditation and Mindfulness apps are easily found and provide guidance on breathing
Registered Nurse Storyteller, Healer, Scribe, Transformational Leader