Relaxation and Wellness Activities to Help Healthcare Professionals Cope with COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought new levels of stress and anxiety, particularly for essential workers and healthcare professionals. With medical staff on the front lines fighting this crisis, there’s no doubt that confronting the challenges this situation has created is a distressing struggle. During a pandemic of this scope and severity, the ability to remain calm, compassionate, and optimistic is more important than ever. However daunting and demanding of a profession it is, many medical professionals have to balance increasing demand, taking care of their families and themselves, in addition to providing optimal patient care. So here are 7 relaxation and wellness activities to help healthcare professionals cope with COVID-19.
- Practice mindfulness
Feeling overwhelmed by the sudden spike in workload is completely normal and acceptable in a situation like this, though it doesn’t make it any easier. Even as you’re working tirelessly to tend to patients during this coronavirus outbreak, it’s essential that you care for yourself and your well-being. Practicing mindfulness will help you feel more grounded and anchor you to the present moment.
When you’re feeling too frayed or frantic, try to find ways to come back to yourself and slow down. Mindful breathing is a great way to do that, and it only takes 10 seconds at a time. You can also do this during your breaks: it’s better than mindlessly scrolling through social media and it will help you feel more centered and relaxed.
- Take a candlelit bath
Although it can be difficult to make time for yourself during such a crisis, every effort, no matter how small, matters. When you prioritize tending to your own needs, this will not only improve your mood but also boost your energy and productivity. Think of it this way: if you want to stay kind and compassionate towards your patients you need to do the same for yourself. So in a sense, the quality of your doing stems from the quality of your being.
In addition to proper sleep and a healthy balanced diet, you can optimize your ‘being’ with even the smallest wellness practices, in this case, taking a nice bath. So instead of taking a quick shower at the end of the day, invest 20 additional minutes of your time to remove your scrubs and scrub hat, light a candle, hop into your bathtub, and relax.
If you find yourself thinking of work or anxiety-inducing thoughts, acknowledge those, and try to change your focus to something else. You can also make a mental list of the things you’re grateful for to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
- Spend quality time with your family
Friends, family, and loved ones are an amazing support system to have, especially during these uncertain times. It not only gives you a sense of belonging but spending quality time with the people in your life will fill you with joy and renewed feelings of purpose and self-worth.
Granted, your busy schedule makes it hard to find the time to hang out with your family, but if you can do that over dinner or even breakfast, it will relieve so much stress. Not to mention how social support can help take some weight off your shoulders and lighten that load of anxiety and distress.
If it isn’t over a meal then maybe movie night or fun board games, all in the comfort of your own home of course. With quarantine and social distancing, you’d be surprised at how grateful for and excited your family and loved ones will be about these activities. It’s a much-needed escape from the daily routine of isolation for them and the stress of work for you.
- Breathing exercises
Too much mental stress triggers your fight or flight response. For instance during a crisis such as this one, this fight or flight mode is in overdrive. As a healthcare professional, your workspace can be a nerve-racking atmosphere that continuously activates your reactivity. So when you feel like things are piling up and getting out of control, remember to take a moment, slow down, and breathe.
Whatever the situation might be, you can afford to take a couple of seconds for yourself. Start by closing your eyes and shifting your focus to your breathing. Next, relax your stomach and count to three as you slowly inhale then double the length of time as you slowly exhale. Make sure you implement these breathing exercises all throughout your day to help alleviate any wave of stress or anxiety as it arises.
- Listen to soothing music
Music can have a tremendously soothing and relaxing effect on your mind and body, especially slow classical music. Slow-paced instrumentals and nature sounds can be very calming, which is the main reason why they’re largely used in meditation and yoga music.
Though any genre of music you enjoy the most can be just as effective. This is a great relaxation activity that you can implement into your daily routine, whether it’s while you’re driving to work, when you’re taking a shower, or just by itself. So blast some playful tunes or wind down to classical music and dance your worries away!
- Spend time with your pet
Many scientific studies show that interacting with your pet can significantly reduce your levels of stress and help cope with anxiety. In fact, petting and interacting with your dog or cat can help release oxytocin, a hormone that promotes a positive state of mind. At the same time, playing with an animal also decreases the production of cortisol, which is the hormone associated with stress. Spending time with your pet not only gives you purpose but also offers you companionship and can keep you active through taking them on walks, etc.
- Get crafty
Art therapy has been around for years, both in formal settings, that is therapy, and informal settings, like drawing for fun. This activity is tremendously calming and helpful in dealing with your thoughts and emotions. Even if you’re not good at drawing or painting, you can always use coloring books. They have the same effect on minimizing anxiety and boosting your mood.
In addition to that, arts and crafts are the perfect relaxation activity to enjoy both by yourself and with your family. Drawing and coloring help you stay focused on the task at hand so there are no underlying processes of you stressing and worrying over other things. It’s a mind-centering practice that has the power to boost your concentration and help you stay grounded in the present moment.
Stress and anxiety will inevitably arise due to the current circumstances, be it at home or in your workplace. So try to incorporate a couple of these relaxation and wellness activities in your routine to help quell those frantic waves when they come into being. Remember to breathe and repeat to yourself: “This too shall pass”!