Healthcare workers - Surviving or Thriving?

‘Surviving or thriving?’ is the new angle that many will be looking at for Mental health awareness week (8th - 14th May). The focus will be on why so few are thriving with good mental health rather than on why so many suffer from poor mental health. Those who work in the public sector are more prone to workplace stress and anxiety. This is due to pressures, scarce resources, tight deadlines and huge workloads. Eighty eight percent of health care workers cannot sleep, are getting headaches, depression, and panic attacks related to work stress. It is important to decrease these numbers so they can give care to those who need it.

It seems that a lot of people, especially those in the health care industry are simply surviving with their own mental health. Thriving is about finding meaning in the things you do. It is about doing what you love with a happy, healthy mindset. Thriving starts with self-care. Too few people take part in self-care and instead they let their bad thoughts take control. Self-care includes things you can do in order to improve your mental wellbeing, from positive thinking to improving physical health.

Healthcare workers look after other people's health. This includes doctors, nurses, therapists and social workers. Healthcare workers tend to have long shifts with high amounts of pressure. Many healthcare workers feel their job is emotionally tiring. Suicide in the healthcare industry has continued to rise over the last 15 years, being almost double the national average. Over a quarter of the nurses who take care of us, our children, our siblings and our parents are going through depression and/or anxiety. This does not mean they can't to do their jobs. Yet, the quality of care will improve if the healthcare workers well-being is optimal. If you are going through any symptoms of severe stress, anxiety or depression, you should visit your GP.

Here are a few things to try to make sure you thrive:

  • Accept that some things are out of your control. Accept that blaming yourself is not going to get you anywhere. Blaming yourself for things out of your control will only cause stress. Stress can decrease quality of future work. Talk to others in your job role. Talking about problems with other team members could end with a solution. Just remember that you cannot help everybody and as long as you do your best, that is all you could have done.

  • Engage in activities which improve your wellbeing. Try to take part in activities which improve your energy levels and also your well-being. These activities can be anything from a 20 minute walk to eating well and talking to friends/family.

  • Find a balance. Jobs that deal with the public are under a lot of the pressure. It is important to have a work/life balance. Try not to bring your work home unless necessary. You need time to relax so you enter a new workday feeling well rested and relaxed. Nobody performs well under pressure. Talking about your stress is a good way of lifting some weight from your shoulders and others' support should make you feel slightly better. 

  • Keep your body healthy and your mind will follow. When you have other things on your mind, it can be easy to forget to take care of your body. You can do this with a balanced diet, plenty of water and exercise. These things can improve your physical health, which will also allow you to feel better in yourself. Even small changes such as a 20 minute walk can improve your heart health and lift your mood. Reduce your intake of things which can negatively affect your mood including nicotine, alcohol and other drugs. Aim for 8 hours of sleep. Turning off mobiles an hour before bed can also improve your sleep.

  • Think positive, practise mindfulness. Thinking positively is a great way to feel inspired to complete your tasks to the best of your ability.  Writing down 1 thing you enjoyed about the day before you go to bed will allow you to realise that not everything is bad. If you are feeling stressed at work, there are a few things you can do including deep breathing and meditation. With the wide range of apps, it is now possible to do guided exercises which allow you to remain calm and positive.

Feel Stress Free is a mobile app, created by UK leading Psychologists and Psychiatrists, to prevent and reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety and mild depression through clinically proven techniques. Thrive Therapeutic Software (creators of Feel Stress Free) are offering a free code for the month of May for all healthcare workers by using the coupon code: CALMISLAND0517

Sam GlassComment