Oftentimes, those who work in healthcare, spending their days caring for others, do not extend the same level of care to themselves. Maybe it’s because you’re too tired to do so at the end of the day, or perhaps, you just plain don’t know how to practice good self care. Whatever the reason, you really should take better care of yourself—particularly, your mental health.
In an industry rife with a burnout problem, on the heels of the most devastating health crisis in modern history, during Mental Health Awareness Month, if you have not been making your mental health a priority, now is certainly a good time to start.
Try these five ways to better prioritize your mental health starting now.
Start Saying No
Many who go into healthcare do so because they are drawn to serving others, they want to help. Boundaries, however, are important to set for the sake of your mental health. The word “no” (and learning to use it) has power, and it can positively impact your mental health to say no to things you do not want to or cannot do, be it because they would overwhelm you, disinterest you, or for any other reason. Saying no is not selfish, does not need to be justified, and it is something you should do regularly as part of having healthy boundaries.
In the same vein as saying no, you should take time for yourself more often. Just because you can do something, or have the time in your schedule, that does not mean you need to. Slow down, rest, relax, and recharge—whatever that looks like for you, be it actually taking a lunch break or taking an entire vacation. Listen to your body and mind and give it what it needs. Everything else can wait.
Studies show that regular exercise can have a positive impact on depression and anxiety, and can also relieve stress, improve memory, help you sleep better, and boost your overall mood. Though you may not have time for a trip to the gym seven days a week, make time to move for at least ten to fifteen minutes every day. Take a short walk, jog with your dog, go for a swim, practice some yoga—anything that gets your heart rate up and causes you to breathe a little heavier than normal counts.
Get Some Sleep
Without good sleep, our mental health can suffer. However, mental health disorders may make it harder to sleep, causing even greater problems. Some helpful ways to get meaningful rest might include hanging blackout curtains, wearing an eye mask, taking melatonin before bed, or setting your thermostat to 65 degrees Fahrenheit for the most comfortable sleep, according to the Sleep Foundation.
Talk to Someone
Sometimes, the best way to care for yourself is to ask others for help. If you are struggling, please know you are not alone. You are just a call or text away from reaching professionals who can help you to process what you are experiencing. If you need support, reach out to them at:
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline: Call 1-800-662-HELP
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 1-800-273-TALK
- The Crisis Text Line: Text TALK to 741741
Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.