As we head into winter and the challenges that come with it, NHS staff of all levels are braving the front line to tackle this season together.
We know that this year has been one of the most uniquely challenging for a generation and recognising the impact of COVID-19 on the health and wellbeing of NHS workers is crucial as the flu season begins.
Supporting your mental health is a top priority for us, so we’ve compiled some tips to help support your mental health, as well as resources where you can find help if, or when, you need it.
Take time to relax
When your job is physically and mentally demanding, it can be hard to switch off after a long day. Take steps to prioritise your self-care, so you return to work 100% present for your patients.
If you struggle with anxiety, not taking time to stop and relax could worsen your symptoms and make you feel overwhelmed.
Key tip: Reduce your screen time - you can monitor this in the settings of your phone, turn off your ensure you’re getting the NHS recommended 6-9 hours’ sleep a night.
Evidence shows taking care of your wellbeing improves patient outcomes, so remember to always rest, rehydrate and refuel. You can read about this in more detail on our other blog, The 3R’s all healthcare professionals need to know - Rest, Rehydrate, Refuel.
Stay connected to your loved ones
Whilst we adjust to a new tier system it’s important to follow social distancing guidelines introduced by our government to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, it’s also important for your mental health that you stay connected with those around you.
Key tip: Grab a coffee with a colleague where you can, watch a film with your family, dare to go back to Zoom calls so you can stay connected with friends and family outside your household. Stepping out of potentially isolating situations to enjoy times with your NHS peers will help improve your mental health and theirs!
It’s important for us all to think about how COVID-19 is impacting the mental health of not only ourselves but of those around us. Checking in on those you have not heard from in a while will go a long way to maintaining key relationships in your life. Even if you just drop someone a message, you never know how much a catch up with an old friend will have a positive effect on your day.
Staying physically fit impacts your health as well as your mental wellbeing. The nation turned to physical exercise in lockdown to keep moving and there is no reason this attitude shouldn’t continue into winter. Start by ditching the excuses! There are 24 hours in a day, use one of those to make a healthy choice in your life.
Lockdown proved that an expensive gym membership isn’t required to start your fitness journey, get inspired by the BBC’s everyday exercise information.
Key tip: Try something new! Have you always wanted to try yoga, running, cycling? Well now’s the time! There are a number of great apps available to get you moving, including the coach to 5k running app for beginners as well as online classes via Zoom that you can try.
Worried about more than your clothing size? Our sister company, ICS Health & Wellbeing, have created a Diabetes Prevention Programme in partnership with the NHS, which aims to help the 5 million people in the UK who are at risk of developing the disease. Make sure you check it out and forward onto friends and family that could benefit from the programme.
Eat and drink well
Support your new exercise routine by eating and drinking well. Eating on the go during shifts can easily lead to bad dietary choices. Beat this by being prepared! Meal prepping will not only help you eat a better-balanced diet but is also less wasteful and therefore good for the environment.
The NHS have an Eatwell Guide, that identifies the basics on how to eat a healthy balanced diet.
It is recommended by health professionals that everyone should consume 2 litres, or half a gallon of water a day. With the nature of working in the healthcare sector, as a Doctor, Nurse, AHP, HCA, administrator or in any other role, you spend a lot of time on your feet! If you do not drink enough water, studies have shown that you have an increased risk of headaches and your concentration will be impaired, all these factors affect how you go about your day to day life and put a strain on your positivity.
Sometimes the impact food and water have on your mental health is forgotten. Taking steps to treat your body better, will ultimately help you focus and be more productive which will support your mental wellbeing.
Smile and share the love
Smiling! It seems too simple, but in a year that has been challenging for all, its easy to forget to smile about the little things. As the leaves fall off the trees and the risk of seasonal affective disorder rises, we encourage you to acknowledge the moments in your day that are worth smiling about. You may have made great progress with a patient, you may have received positive news in your personal life, or it may be as little as your train turning up on time!
Smiling elevates your mood and not only that, its contagious! Your smile may indirectly make someone else’s day without you even knowing.
Key tip: Each shift you work, take a moment to reflect and think about a reason to be thankful, but don’t stop there. Thank a colleague that has been especially helpful to you on that shift. Recognising the efforts of our peers is a great way to boost morale and will hopefully allow you to leave that shift with a positive feeling about your day.
Take time for what you enjoy
The pressures of working for the NHS during a pandemic can be overwhelming, as the role you play in keeping your patients safe is vital to us getting through these difficult times. As we head into the Christmas period, you may find that your social diary is starting to get booked up. Remember that it’s ok to say no to plans and take time for yourself. Focus on what you would like to spend your free time doing rather than what you feel socially obligated to attend.
Key tip: Enjoy a nice long bath, take a walk in the fresh air, play games or simply do nothing!
Ask for help
We’ve shared with you our tips to help support your mental health while working during COVID-19, but we know that this is not enough. Please know that it is always ok to ask for help.
If you ever find yourself in need of professional support, Mind provides confidential mental health information services. Similarly, Papyrus and Young Minds are also great resources.
Here at Bank Partners we support our staff and want to ensure they have the support they need to do their jobs and help the NHS through the winter and beyond.
If you’re looking to join our brave heroes, Bank Partners have NHS jobs available across a variety NHS Trust’s, please visit our jobs page to register your interest for work.