• How To Mentally Survive COVID-19 in a Medical Setting

    This year’s been a tough one, hasn’t it? And first and foremost, there are lots of services out there that can help you if you need someone to talk to (Lifeline, the Black Dog Institute and Beyond Blue). So with all these changes to the way we live, how are we ever supposed to fully comprehend what is going on and take care of our mental health?

    It’s hard to hold back your emotions, and you have every right to feel threatened, frightened or vulnerable – practice manager or not. You’re human. But there are a few tips and tricks you can use to help you get through it, which I found very helpful for myself.

    Follow Procedures

    The first, and probably the most important thing, is to listen to the medical advice handed out to us by the government and its relevant health departments. We live in the medical world, so it’s normal for us to put our trust into the professionals who are continuously researching and taking charge of the situation.

    The procedures, depending on where you live, include things like social distancing, wearing a mask, washing your hands thoroughly and regularly, sanitising shopping trolleys, avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and disinfecting surfaces that are used often, like benchtops and desks.

    These procedures go without saying, and we can make a real impact at our clinics if we take charge as our staff will follow our own actions.

    Avoidance

    According to Lifeline, one of the key strategies to keeping your mental health in check during COVID-19 times is managing your exposure to media coverage. Seeing and reading news breaks and media reports instill fear and increase anxiety levels, and worse still, so many of the ‘outlets’ reporting on the virus are not exactly sources of correct and true information. We’ve seen firsthand that community fear and panic can be fuelled by rumours and misinformation, so if you’re going to chase the facts, ensure you have access to free, trustworthy and high quality platforms.

    And while it’s important to stay informed, you may actually find it useful to limit your media intake if it is upsetting you.

    Keep A Diary

    One of the ways I have found that best works for me when it comes to maintaining perspective and staying clam is to have a notebook that I use as a diary. If feeling anxious about what’s happening around me, I’ll whip it out and jot down not only how I’m feeling in that moment, but why I think I might be going through those particular emotions.

    Since doing so, I’ve realised that I’ve been able to keep a practical approach to staying healthy, calmly taking in the correct information and advice. I’ve also stopped making assumptions, and this has well and truly lowered my anxiety levels. I feel back in control of myself.

    Seek Support

    Beyond Blue encourages people who have experienced mental health issues in the past to activate their support networks, acknowledge feelings of distress, and seek professional support early if they’re having difficulties coping.

    As practice managers, I’m sure there are times where you might feel there is not much of a support network around you – as we tend to be the support for our staff. If you have a diary to write down your feelings, you’re already on the way to acknowledging any distress! So that’s amazing! Keep going by staying connected with your closest friends and family and talking to them about your concerns – that’s what they’re there for, right?

    Your loved ones will help settle and soothe your nervous system by connecting to you with calmness and safety. It’s from this place you’ll be able to stay mentally positive. This is especially important if you are in quarantine or self-isolating; find time each and every day to make virtual connections by email, text, phone or video calls.

     

    I’ve tried all of these self-care strategies, and sure, the stress of it all won’t magically disappear in a day. But they sure have helped increase my ability to cope with everything that’s going on, and I’m much happier going into work every morning knowing that I’m in control of my mental health. I’d love to hear what your coping mechanisms are, and if you’ve taken on board any of my tips!

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