Celebrating Mental Wellness Month: Self-Care Tips for Healthcare Providers

January marks Mental Wellness Month, an opportunity for everyone, especially healthcare workers, to prioritize their mental well-being. Healthcare workers are often so busy providing care that they neglect the mental and emotional aspects of their own wellness. This trend may lead to burnout as well as increased risks for exacerbating or developing chronic mental health conditions. For healthcare professionals, it’s essential to recognize the significance of this month and the importance of mental health. From simple self-care practices to more involved activities, there is something for everyone to incorporate into their daily routine.

Practice mindfulness and self-care activities

By prioritizing personal health and happiness, healthcare professionals manage their careers better without sacrificing their personal lives. Awareness of one’s feelings and stress levels is an excellent first step toward a goal of daily self-care. The effects of regular attention to one’s needs may also help medical professionals bring order and predictability to otherwise chaotic situations.

Mitigating what has been the undercurrent during the COVID-19 pandemic—a homologous epidemic of mental health problems among healthcare professionals—means health employees should understand the warning signs of burnout. Employers must provide access to effective mental health and self-care resources and ways to utilize these tools. You may notice the following signals as possible forebodings of burnout:

  • Professional misconduct
  • Frequent colds, headaches, and tiredness
  • Detachment from patients
  • Intolerance of pain or patient touch 
  • Less empathy, along with despondency, cynicism, and despair
  • Reduced resilience, frequent moodiness, and increased proclivity to weep
  • Sleep disruption, escape fantasies, bringing work home, and drug misuse

There is a need to rethink healthcare systems to ease the stress placed on medical staff and improve their overall life quality. This rethinking can also increase their capacity to provide reliable treatment and optimize patient outcomes. The industry is calling for an “epidemic of empathy” that might unite scientific and humanistic perspectives.

The ability to empathize with patients and their families has been linked to positive outcomes in both lay and medical communities. But maintaining therapeutic neutrality and emotional balance requires some distance between practitioners and patients. Empathy, research shows, makes healthcare workers more likely to experience stress-related symptoms, including compassion fatigue and burnout. Healthcare systems must acknowledge the humanity of healthcare professionals by valuing the empathic response they provide, supporting their need for balance, and validating their self-care initiatives.

Meditation has proven to be increasingly favorable as a practical answer to the burnout crisis among healthcare workers. Healthcare leaders and executives suffering from burnout may also reap the advantages of mindfulness meditation, including enhanced concentration and decision-making. However, burnout can have a detrimental effect on patient care, professionalism, and the ability of healthcare workers to practice self-care.

Healing Breaths continues to support healthcare professionals, helping them reconnect with themselves and their profession. Through our self-care program, SKY, and organizational partnerships, providers quickly experience reduced anxiety and depressive symptoms, have more profound, restorative sleep, and improve their quality of life. Schedule now to chat with one of our healthcare wellness experts!

Take breaks during the day or mental health days off

Psychologists agree that taking brief breaks during the workday can be beneficial in the short term for maintaining motivation and avoiding burnout. The optimal frequency and duration of a pause will vary from person to person and profession to profession. Therefore, there is no universal guideline. However, scientists at Baylor University discovered that employees who take intermissions from work to engage in enjoyable activities have fewer overall physical and mental health problems.

Consider taking the day off if you wake up feeling particularly overwhelmed, sad, or anxious. Experts advise keeping as much distance from your work as possible while you’re not on the clock. Taking mental health days as sick days when needed and breaks during the workday have been shown to decrease stress and improve job performance.

Stay connected

Connected adults have better health and a longer lifespan than their less socially engaged counterparts, according to research from Harvard. A person’s physical and mental health may benefit from having positive interactions. Studies indicate that having meaningful relationships with others is more critical to our well-being than material wealth or political influence.

Taking the initiative to forge deeper bonds with those you care about may be challenging, but the rewards can be worthwhile. The adverse effects of stress in interpersonal relationships extend to a person’s physical, mental, and social well-being. According to studies, we should prioritize quality over quantity in our interactions with these individuals.

The danger of suicide among those with a mental illness should not be overlooked while we celebrate mental well-being. The fact that 26.2% of non-institutionalized people in the U.S. experience mental illness in any given year may be partly attributable to a lack of social connectedness. According to recent studies, medical professionals are prone to commit suicide by poisoning themselves. Having caring friends and family may improve one’s emotional and mental health and prevent the onset of suicidal ideation or other harmful behaviors that inhibit mental wellness.

Get adequate sleep

There is a sleep deficiency trend among healthcare professionals, with 32% saying they are chronically sleep deprived. Adults typically need seven or more continuous hours of high-quality sleep every night. Insomnia and other sleep disorders may lead to or exacerbate mental health issues. Increasing one’s quality of sleep is associated with positive mental health outcomes.

Both mental health issues and sleep deprivation have been linked to adverse outcomes for both physical and psychological well-being. A self-perpetuating loop exists in which sleep deprivation exacerbates specific mental health problems and neurological development issues.

Better sleep hygiene practices might be part of a preventative mental healthcare plan. Healthcare workers who work long or rotating shifts are more likely to suffer from sleep deprivation and disruptions. These are populations who need to develop and implement such plans. 

Exercise regularly

During the first lockdown phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, those who exercised often reported lower levels of anxiety and sadness than those who did not. Exercising may help your mental health even if you haven’t been diagnosed with anything specific. It decreases negative emotions, boosts confidence, and sharpens your mind. Exercising has far-reaching effects on productivity in the workplace.

When you work out with friends, you increase the likelihood that you will keep up with the habit. Having someone else count on you to keep up with an exercise routine increases your motivation. Seeing physical activity in a new light, as something you must do for your career, may help you find the time for it.

Find a creative outlet

An excellent way to honor yourself this month is to find a creative outlet. This can take many forms, including writing, painting, drawing, playing an instrument, photography, etc. Engaging in creative activities can reduce stress and improve overall well-being. Art is increasingly being used in therapeutic settings to allow people to release tensions and express complex emotions.

Support your peers

Many people working in healthcare believe they must “be a professional,” which is often interpreted to mean “be stoic” and “handle problems on one’s own.” Assisting others boosts our self-esteem and keeps us linked to the world. Those dealing with the front lines of this pandemic might ease one another’s burdens by sharing their experiences. Create your peer support group informally or officially.

Emotional relatedness among peers may mitigate caregiver burnout. Social support and connection, and communal coping were identified in a study of nurses showing that those who bounce back quickly from adversity depend on the support and encouragement of friends and colleagues. Medical professionals have been better able to deal with the stress and isolation of working in emergencies thanks to peer support and debriefing groups.

Mental wellness matters 365

It is Mental Wellness Month, an opportunity for healthcare professionals to practice self-care and take the time to recognize the importance of their mental health. There are many ways to celebrate, but the key is finding self-care activities and wellness initiatives that work for you. But the significance of supporting mental wellness doesn’t end on January 31st. It is essential to make sure you prioritize your mental health and well-being each day of this and every year.

Healing Breaths is acutely aware of how the long-standing structure of healthcare has resulted in neglect of the need to see mental well-being as an essential way to prevent burnout and compassion fatigue in healthcare workers. We are devoted to offering resources and support to healthcare workers who strive to enhance their mental well-being and overall quality of life. Contact us today to learn more!