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Health and social care staff across the country have responded to the pandemic with dedication and energy. With long hours and missed weekends, the boundaries between our work and our personal lives have been stretched; often working at home whilst juggling caring responsibilities and technology glitches, on top of the challenges of delivering health and social care remotely. It’s easy to go from one virtual meeting to another, without the natural breaks that happen in our usual working days and, when we feel less productive, it can be tempting to work longer hours.
Those of you who are in work are dealing with the challenges of PPE and social distancing, on top of the emotional strain of your work and the impact on home life.
It takes a lot of energy to keep working at this pace, so it’s normal to feel fatigue and exhaustion after a point, as our bodies try to recover and recuperate from expending such a large amount of energy.
Sometimes, if your brain decides that being on high alert is not something that is going to resolve what is making you feel anxious, it can drive you to “shut down” in order to save energy. This might impact your mood, and make you feel low or numb. You might experience feeling slowed down and unmotivated.
Things that can help
It’s important to listen to the signals of your body and to rest when you need to.
If you’re working at home, try to have a routine and allow yourself to take breaks. Be careful not to work longer hours than you would if you were at work.
If you’re in work, talk to colleagues and managers about how you can take breaks during shifts and where you can get uninterrupted rest with something to eat and drink. If you’re a manager, we’ve put together some Top Tips for Supporting Staff.
You might feel reluctant to take time off work, because you know the pressure colleagues are under and the scale of the need of the people you’re looking after. But we all need a break.
If you feel you would benefit from time off work, and this is currently possible within your professional role, consider speaking to your manager.
Holidays won’t feel the same with restrictions in place but having time off is essential for our mental and physical health and wellbeing.
Be aware that if you’ve been working full tilt for a long period, you may not realise how physically and emotionally exhausted you are until you stop. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself feeling more emotional and make use of the resources on this site to take care of yourself.
Fight Fatigue is resource for better understanding what fatigue is and what you can do about it.
Feeling Good: A free audio programme that combines relaxation and sports coaching to reduce stress, anxiety and depression and improve sleep.
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