During this global pandemic, I found myself having an increasingly difficult time coping with all the change and uncertainty that is around us. These times are uncharted territory, and this made me realize that I needed new coping mechanisms and strategies to manage stress during this time. After thinking of ways I could help myself, I decided to start asking myself three questions:
The first thing that I thought of when I was thinking of things I could let go was all of the anxiety and stress that the news and talking about COVID-19 brought me. So, I decided that the best thing to do was to consume less news and decrease overall communication around COVID-19. I had to create boundaries in order to make things easier for myself - I chose specific times that I used social media and kept up with the news during the day. I realized we only need about 10-20 minutes a day with an accurate news source to stay up to date on our responsibilities.
I also decided to lovingly communicate with family members who were sharing news articles with me how the news was affecting me and ask if we could talk about something else. Many people will talk to nurses about COVID-19, because it’s the only way they know how to communicate right now. It’s up to us to be honest with others about what we need and how to communicate with us.
When I answered this question, I realized that I had two solutions to help make life more enjoyable. The first was continuing the tradition of steak + red wine Friday’s that my partner and I had before COVID-19. It was something we looked forward to all week, and we realized there was nothing keeping us from continuing this during the pandemic. These Fridays bring a little more normalcy and routine into our week. It’s something we can look forward to that brings us joy, which is so needed during this time!
The second solution I came up with was adding more gentle exercise into my life. I realized I had put a lot of guilt on myself for not working out as consistently as I used to. The thought of doing a workout exhausted me given the added stress of the times. So, I let go of the guilt and made a compromise. I decided to focus on yoga and walking instead of high intensity workouts and spend more time reflecting and meditating. It feels so much easier and it’s more enjoyable for me.
There are so many ways we can make life easier for another human being right now, and in the process it actually makes us feel good too! This is as simple as asking your co-worker if they need something while on shift together. Or, becoming the designated person to get groceries if you’re the one working less right now (I’m actually the designated grocery person because I work for Telehealth part-time and I’m not in contact with any patients). My partner is working full-time, and so this was one thing I could do to make his life easier. Taking a little time to think about how we can help during this time also forces us to look at the positives of what we do have, and how we can use that to serve others.
Implementing these three strategies have made the world of difference for me while navigating this global pandemic! I invite you to take the time to journal and answer these questions to see if there’s some changes you can make to help you feel better!
Brooke Martin, BScN RN, RMT is a member of the Nurses Inspire Nurses community and is a career coach for nurses. She’s the founder of Nurse Love Career Coaching and helps nurses ditch stress and overwhelm to create careers that they love. You can find her over at@nurselovecareercoaching or on her website!