Programme: Programme for Long-Term Care Workers During the Coronavirus Crisis

2. Put Down Solid Foundations

This is a very demanding situation, but we now know that many of the current circumstances lie outside our circle of influence. You are carrying a heavy load right now, and when our load is heavier than our capacity, we experience stress. The scales are no longer evenly balanced. In the short term, this is not a problem - we all feel off-balance now and again. But if the imbalance is ongoing, it can have an impact on your health. That is why it is important to put down solid foundations that will support you so that you stay in balance. 


Put down solid foundations

  • Make sure you take regular breaks, choose healthy food and drinks, get enough sleep and take plenty of exercise.
     
  • After hard work, we need relaxation. Make sure you plan some free time for yourself. You need relaxation in order to recover. Everyone has their own preferred way to relax - some people like to get lost in a book, others prefer a run in the park. You need to make time to recover and recharge so that you can return to work feeling sharp and ready to keep working to your best abilities. 
     
  • Make sure that you are up-to-date on the most important facts and updates so that you can answer any questions residents may have. But don’t look at the news obsessively - checking news updates once a day is plenty.
     
  • Share positive moments with your colleagues and celebrate little things.
     
  • Talk about your experiences and your needs with people you trust. Social contact can be a good distraction and an effective way to escape from thoughts about work. 
     
  • Some of us may be tempted to drink more or use drugs during stressful periods. This can be a way to temporarily shut down our emotions. These substances will not make our stress go away, they simply make us feel numb for a while. Once the drugs, alcohol or nicotine are out of our system, the stress will return. It may even return in a more intense form due to previously being suppressed. This can make us tempted to turn to substances once again in order to ‘escape’ from our stress. If you find yourself getting into this vicious cycle, get in touch with one of our psychologists - we will help you to find a way to break the cycle. 
     

Think about the following questions and share your thoughts with your online psychologist, a colleague or somebody you are close to:

  • Are your foundations solid? Think about your diet as well as exercise and sleep.
     
  • Are you managing to schedule time for relaxation?
     
  • How often do you read or watch the news about Coronavirus?

You probably only have limited amounts of time for relaxation. Breathing exercises can be a very effective way to recover from a stressful day. Try doing the 4-7-8 breathing method developed by the American doctor Andrew Weil.
 

ACT

4-7-8 breathing exercise

Keep the tip of your tongue gently pressed against the back of your front teeth and breathe as follows:

1. Breathe in through your nose for 4 counts
2. Hold your breath for 7 counts
3. With your mouth open, breathe out for 8 counts
4. Repeat this cycle 3 - 4 times

These kinds of breathing exercises can be very effective. If you practise daily, you will feel the benefits. This breathing exercise can help in a number of situations - a busy day, an awkward conversation, difficulty falling asleep etc.


Social support

Social support is very important during times of crisis and high stress. We need our loved-ones, friends and colleagues more than ever right now. Sharing what you are going through and getting things off your chest are an important outlet for many of us. You may encounter some experiences which you only feel comfortable sharing with other carers; if that is the case, try talking to a colleague.

Sharing your emotions is not always easy at the end of a long shift - the switch from work to home can feel enormous. This could be because you have faced big challenges at work which may have affected you mentally, but it could also be because there are new responsibilities waiting for you at home as you step into your other role as parent, carer, partner, or friend.


Act & Connect

  • Ask your partner, friend or a family member to be your ‘home buddy’. It helps to simply have someone there to check up on you and ask you how you are, whether you need anything, whether you have all the groceries you need etc. 
     
  • Ask a colleague to be your ‘work buddy’. Check in with each other every day, discuss the things you have been dealing with and talk about your needs.
     
  • If you have a family, plan a daily check-in with them. A simple traffic-light system can help with this:
    • What colour are you today?
       
    • Green: I feel good because...
       
    • Orange: I feel so-so because...
       
    • Red: I feel bad because…
       
    • Do you need anything? Can we help?
       
  • Plan a weekly meeting with your partner and/or kids.
     
    • What is going well?
       
    • What are we finding difficult?
       
    • How can we help each other?
       

Reflect & connect

Think about which of these tools could help you and share your thoughts with your online psychologist, a colleague or someone you are close to.

Would you like professional advice?

Contact our psychologists today to discuss the effects of Corona on your mental health.


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Call us at 020-2444888