We’ve all been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in one way or another for two years now. While that is not a milestone any of us want to celebrate, it is one that is worthy of acknowledging. Throughout the past two years Health and Social care workers across the country have responded to the needs of those in their care with dedication and energy. While the sense of pride this brings is well earned, the impact of such exertion should not be downplayed.
The feeling amongst the general public may be that, with the last of the restrictions lifting, the pandemic is over. We are acutely aware, however, that for those working in health and social care, this is not the case. We still see a high number of COVID cases, a lot of people still require hospital care, people are still developing Long COVID which will need to be managed for an extended period, and most unfortunately, we are still seeing a steady number of COVID-related deaths. On top of this, staff numbers continue to be impacted by the need to self-isolate, and backlogs worsened by COVID still need managed.
We know that a lot of you have been exhausted for the past two years, and in this regard, things may not be easing up. For that reason, it is as important as ever to look back on what has helped you to get through to where you are now, and draw on the things that have helped you cope. You might have found daily walks, talking to friends, or planning enjoyable activities are the strategies that have helped.
It takes a lot of energy to keep working at this pace, especially for such a long time. It’s to be expected that you will often be feeling fatigued as your body tries to recover and recuperate from using up so much energy. Fatigue isn’t just physically tiring, it can be mentally draining too. You might find yourself feeling at times anxious about what is going on, and at others feeling low or numb due to the exhaustion of it all. Both of these are normal reactions to extreme situations.
Things that can help
Listen to the signals of your body and get some rest when you need to. When you’re working at full tilt you might not realise just how physically and emotionally exhausted you are until you stop.
Talk to your colleagues and managers about how you can take breaks during your shifts and where you can get uninterrupted rest with something to eat and drink. Eating well and staying hydrated are two of the most important things you can do to best maintain your energy levels. This post might give you some ideas to help you do that.
Make sure you take your annual leave. You might have fallen into the habit of not taking as much leave as you’re entitled to over the past couple of years, or it may simply not have been feasible for you to take it all. It’s important to get back into the habit of giving yourself time off now though. You need to give yourself the time to recuperate.
It sounds obvious to say, but feelings of exhaustion will be worsened if you’re also struggling to sleep well. If you find you are experiencing difficulties with your sleep, you might benefit from trying Sleepio. Sleepio is a six-session, computer-based cognitive behavioural therapy programme developed by experts in sleep medicine, which aims to help you overcome sleep difficulties and insomnia. You can also watch Dr Dimitri Gavriloff, Clinical Lead for Sleepio, present his tips for improving your sleep here. As with all of our recordings, an audio-only version can be listened to on the go via our Spotify page.
If you feel anxious about anything which is going on in either your work or personal life, you might benefit from trying Daylight. Daylight is a smartphone-based cognitive behavioural therapy programme which aims to help you develop techniques which you can put into practice any time you feel yourself struggling with anxiety. You can also watch this series of short videos featuring mindfulness practitioner Tracey Moggeridge presenting short relaxation exercises.
For help with a number of common issues, such as depression, anxiety, stress, and alcohol use, you might benefit from trying Silvercloud. Silvercloud is an online cognitive behavioural therapy programme providing you with the tools to manage a number of common issues. Create an account using the instructions in this link. Once you’ve created an account and logged in you can pick the course most suitable to your needs, or complete a short wellbeing questionnaire and select a course from those recommended to you.
Finally, Fight Fatigue is a resource for better understanding what Fatigue is and what you can do about it. You can find it here.
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