To say the last two years were tough for healthcare workers’ mental and emotional health would be a huge understatement. You know it, we know it and the news talks about it non-stop. Medical professionals were already busy before COVID-19, but the frenetic pace of the pandemic has pushed even the hardiest of us close to the brink.
Maybe you’re sleeping less or your relationships with loved ones are being tried. When these adverse side effects pile up, and the shadow of burnout taunts you, it’s time to switch gears and prioritize a self-care routine. But where do you start?
Below, we’ve compiled a list of self-care tips to help give yourself the TLC you need and deserve in the new year.
27 Self-care examples for healthcare professionals
Make sleep a priority
First things first. You need a solid sleep schedule. Getting seven to eight hours of winks per night will not only improve your mental health, but studies show it will boost your immune system, too.
Be mindful of what you’re putting in your body. Taking inventory of what you eat will have a lasting impact on your overall health and well-being. We are what we eat, after all.
Drink caffeine wisely
Few of us get enough sleep (especially healthcare workers), and a delicious cup of coffee in the morning isn’t going to hurt anyone. But too much caffeine in the evening or late at night can keep you awake, worsening that no-sleep problem.
Sure, with your demanding work schedule, finding time to meditate can be difficult. But take it from us. A little bit of yoga, a short walk in a quiet park or even 60 seconds of deep breathing can work wonders.
Practice good hygiene
Keeping your skin, hair and teeth clean may be a given, but pampering yourself with a relaxing soak in the tub can positively affect your mental health, too. So, indulge in all the bath bombs and bubbles your heart desires (maybe with a good book or glass of wine in tow).
Spend quality time with loved ones
If there’s anything the pandemic has taught us, it’s how meaningful our social connections are. For self-care ideas, try to keep in touch with the people you care about, even if you can’t see them in person.
Have a therapeutic massage
If you’re on your feet all day, you’re likely going to struggle with muscle aches and pains. To compensate, slot in a therapeutic massage to relieve some of the tension in your body. You’ll reap those health benefits as a result.
Take a nature break
It’s one of our best self-care tips for anxiety, hands down. Research shows that taking regular walks through the woods, on the beach or even in your local park or favorite trail can do wonders for relieving stress. If you have a day off, consider stepping it up with a longer hike or even a picnic.
How you decide to self-care is ultimately up to you, but there’s no denying that drinking plenty of water is a must. When you’re on the job or at home, always make sure you have some on hand so that you make regular sips a habit.
Start a journal and practice gratitude
Sometimes, “writing it all down” helps us come to terms with our situation, good or bad. Try daily journaling, even if it’s 15 minutes of free-writing, to simply let your thoughts become words. Record personal affirmations to remember what (and who) you’re thankful for, and use the pen to give yourself small pep talks regularly.
Exercise at least 20 minutes a day
Exercise is essential for maintaining a healthy weight, and it’s crucial for overall wellness. Working out reduces anxiety, stress and irritable moods, and you don’t need much of it to reap the results. Twenty minutes per day will do just fine.
Add more fruits and vegetables to your diet
Not only are fruits and veggies great for a balanced diet, but they also help with weight maintenance and reduce your risk for long-term conditions like diabetes.
Take some time off
On the job, you’re on the go constantly. Giving yourself time to truly rest and relax is vital to keeping yourself running, so take advantage of that cherished day off when it comes along.
Read a book
Sometimes, something a little more structured can bring us comfort. Getting lost in a book or magazine, be it an inspirational guide to life or that hot new bestseller can help you unwind like none other.
A disorganized home space can make you anxious, and too much clutter can actually be hazardous. Take those few extra minutes to make your bed in the morning, put your dirty scrubs in the washing machine and clean those dirty breakfast dishes before you go to work. It’ll do your mind good.
Few things are more distressing than not knowing how to say no. If someone is asking too much of you, learn to push back. Being unable to set boundaries can lead to unhappy workplace conditions.
After an upsetting incident, sometimes you need a minute (or several) to calm yourself down. Take a moment of silence to center your thoughts and do a quick breathing exercise.
Feel like you deserve a little treat after a tough month? Be it flowers, those new shoes you’ve had your eyes on, or a weekend out of town, gift yourself something nice. You’ll never regret being kind to yourself.
Social media is what most of us use to keep in touch with our friends and community. However, sometimes it can be just a bit too distracting. Stop scrolling and disconnect to find some quality time to be present in the moment.
Avoid the news
The news seems to be the bearer of particularly bad news these days, and this constant barrage of lousy info can weigh anyone down. Staying informed is one thing, but in this age of nonstop information coming at us from all sides, it’s also important to moderate your news intake.
Have a good breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Choose something healthy, filling and delicious, but be sure to indulge in your favorite comfort foods every once in a while, too.
Talk to a close friend
Getting along with your coworkers is excellent, but there’s a professional boundary that often prevents you from connecting with them in the same way you do with your closest friends outside of work. Phone someone near and dear. It’s good for the soul.
Talk to a family member
Family members can offer support, tough love and practical life advice on serious matters. If you’re on good terms with your family, seek their help.
Watch a movie
Looking for some much-needed alone time to relax and turn off your brain? Movies are always a great bet, as they’re short enough to watch in a single sitting and they offer both entertainment and escapism.
Play a casual game
If you’re looking for an entertaining way to turn off your brain and destress, try out a fun game. Not a complicated one—just a casual app that you can play on your phone during your lunch break.
Buy yourself a new scrub set
Sometimes, it’s not external stressors making us sad, but how we feel about our appearance. At Jaanuu, we’re inspired by the holistic healthcare approach of our co-founder, Dr. Neela. We believe that looking good can make us feel even better and ultimately improve healthcare professionals’ patient care performance.
Make sure you have a comfortable pillow to sleep on
To wrap this list of helpful advice (and tie everything together into a neat little bow), make sure your pillow is comfortable to ensure a quality rest period.
For more self-help tips, check out our article on how to make yourself a priority. Keep calm and self-care on.