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9 Ways to Take Care of Your Own Mental Health Right Now

Your well-being is just as important as that of your patients' — if not more. These nine tips can help you avoid burnout and mental fatigue.

Health care workers can be increasingly vulnerable to negative stressful health outcomes, especially post-pandemic. From working long hours and caring for ill patients, the stressors pile up at work. At home, you add the same worries most people are experiencing: the health and well-being of yourself and your loved ones, financial and even child care concerns.

Actionable Ideas

Everyone handles stress differently. Common reactions include insomnia, increased use of alcohol or tobacco, stomach problems, increased irritability and anger — and that’s just to name a few symptoms you could be experiencing.

It's essential that you take care of yourself mentally and physically. We know that can be easier said than done, but here are some actionable ideas that may help: 

Avoid Work Burnout

  • Be alert to signs of fatigue and overwork. Signs include depression or apathy, becoming easily frustrated, blaming others, poor self-care and more. When you spot them, take action quickly. Don’t neglect your own needs.
  • Use the “buddy system.” You may not recognize these signs in yourself, so partner with a trusted co-worker to keep an eye on each other. Monitor each other’s workloads, remind each other to take breaks, share opportunities for stress relief and just check in with each other in general.

Develop a Support System

  • Share your personal concerns. Talk to a therapist, a close friend/family member or a colleague about what you’re going through.
  • Consider free mental health counseling. SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential service, available in English and Spanish, for people facing mental and/or substance use disorders.
  • Stay social. Maintain relationships with family and friends both online and in person. Video calls, group chats and texts are great way to connect with one another when you're pressed for time, but remember to schedule dinners, game nights, movies and outings to sporting events so you have face-to-face interaction, as well.

Control Your Activities

  • Focus on what you can control. Part of our stress comes from not being able to control what’s happening. So, focus on the lifestyle choices you can control: diet, exercise and quality time with your loved ones.
  • Turn off the TV. There's a lot happening in the world today. Destress by taking a break from news outlets and social media for a while. 
  • Develop a new daily routine. When life gets hectic, mixing things up with a new daily routine can help calm hearts and minds. Do you usually workout first thing in the morning? Try hitting the gym before bed just to expend your energy. Do you usually hit snooze a handful of times before waking up for the day? Set an alarm and use the extra time to relax with a cup of coffee or walk around the neighborhood. 
  • Mindfulness activities. Try mindfulness activities to manage your stress, including meditation, journaling, yoga and breathing exercises. There are a number of free videos online or check with your local yoga studios.

We know you’re dedicated to helping others in need, but you can’t take care of them to the best of your ability if you don’t take care of yourself. Treat yourself as you would treat a patient — your well-being should also be a priority.

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