The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted the world as a whole. However, those who hit the hardest are the healthcare workers and caregivers. To say that the COVID-19 pandemic is challenging is definitely an understatement, especially for those caregivers already finding it difficult to manage their mental health concerns.
Self-isolation, along with living in fear and a constant state of anxiousness causes a strong emotion and may even result in the worsening of caregivers’ mental health and overall fatigue. In order to protect the body, mind, and general well-being, caregiver mental health must be taken care of and made a priority.
We want caregivers to overcome this pandemic in a manner that does not impede on their own mental and overall well-being. That is why we share the next 5 tips as coping mechanisms to protect caregivers’ mental health during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Caregivers rarely ever work the regular 8-hour shift that we are all familiar with, and more often than not, they are working long hours, while taking care of multiple patients at a time. With that being said, as much as you deserve a long break, allowing yourself to indulge in small breaks throughout the day can and will improve your emotional and physical health. These small breaks allow you to recharge your body and take time to reflect on your own needs.
Small breaks have proven to relieve stress, allowing your mind and body to stay focused on important tasks, and help you think more clearly throughout the day.
However, it is significant to find an environment that is different from that of your workplace. This place can be your bedroom, your car, or even the front porch. While this sounds like a simple task, it’s important to keep in mind the reason for your little breaks is to allow your mind and body to focus on yourself.
This pandemic has challenged everyone’s previous routine, from working in an office to working from home, and from working long shifts to working longer ones. In these times of uncertainty, having a set daily schedule allows your mind to find comforting structure and certainty.
Along with that, it is significant to maintain a healthy lifestyle by exercising, eating well, and getting some fresh air every once in a while. Most caregivers already have a daily routine as they care for older adults who need their own routine. However, if you’ve lost track of your old routine and have recently found yourself in a funk, try going back to your routine for a week or two to see if it still works to improve your mental health and well-being.
For example, this can be as simple as going to sleep and waking up at a scheduled time every day, or putting yourself together for the day as you did before the pandemic.
These acts may seem little, but it allows your mind to keep track of your body’s state, allowing it creates a little bit of a norm out of these unprecedented times.
Generally speaking, caregivers often find sleep to be in short supply and is not that of the best quality. More recently, and with the COVID-19 pandemic challenges such as self-isolation and the constant worry of catching the virus, combined with the reduced amount of support can create tougher environments to be able to get a goodnight's sleep.
Nevertheless, physical rest such as a goodnight's sleep has proven to be one of the most successful ways to improve caregivers’ mental health and overall well-being. For example, allowing your body to get the 8-hour of sleep can boost caregivers; such as PSW’s, the ability to be more easy-going with their older patients and be able to adjust to constant change such as the one we are currently undergoing.
We often hear people say to take care of ourselves. But, what does that really mean? As mentioned above, one of the best ways to improve caregiver's mental health is to make time to get a goodnight's sleep. However, there are other ways one can improve their mental well-being.
Take deep breaths. This is crucial when you find yourself in difficult situations. Caregivers deal with some of the most stressful jobs, and it can become challenging to control emotions. Remember to take deep breaths, this allows the mind to take a moment to think before anything is said or done.
Exercise. This can be as simple as walking the dog or going to the store to pick up a snack. These types of actions can seem small but have the ability to change your mood and ultimately your day very easily.
Eat right. Try to eat relatively well-balanced meals, and highly limit alcohol and drugs. This will help boost your immunity and ultimately your mental health.
During these times, it has never been more important to connect with other people, especially those who are going through the same struggles and understand the caregiver’s daily challenges. However, with that being said, staying connected with friends and family is very important. While everyone’s lives may be different, remember that we’re all going through this pandemic together. In order, to connect with other caregivers who are in circumstances similar to yours, join an online caregiver support group where you can get support 24/7.
Reach out to supportive family and friends and spend some time talking on the phone, or even enjoy a nice cup of tea together over a video call.
If you are new to the healthcare sector, recently graduated or someone looking for a change in positions/environment, make sure to sign up to Caring Support. It is a platform that aims to make the job searching process easier for healthcare workers within Ontario, providing a platform to connect with potential employers in new and innovative ways.
We'll keep you updated on all new application updates and features!