By Vidette Forbes

It is easy to become overwhelmed by the ever changing environment we are living in this year. This year has been filled with one challenge after another. Going through the vortex of a pandemic with no end in sight was most likely not on your to do list. Who would have thought about what coping skills would be needed for such extraordinary times?

I’m quite sure the question of whether you really signed up for this as a healthcare professional has come up in many conversations. Not only do we have the persistent challenges of managing a dynamic work environment, we are now bombarded with chronic mental fatigue enduring a pandemic. There are new work/life responsibilities compounded by unsettling civil unrest. The question at hand is how do we handle the magnitude of multiple stressors during these uncertain times?

Realize you are not alone

Now more than ever, it’s important to stay closely connected to your support system at home and work. Talk about your fears and anxieties with people who you trust and who can empathize with what you’re going through. Spend quality time with your pets. Do not isolate, and stay in touch with your social network. Family and friends will be the cornerstone to help you get through these uncertain times.  

Stay in the moment

Drifting off into the past or future can be a scary thing. Try to stay in the moment by tackling one issue at a time. Prioritize your responsibilities and plan for upcoming projects. Remain flexible if you have to make quick adjustments due to unforeseen circumstances. Communicate your needs clearly, directly and timely. Ask for support before a situation becomes too overwhelming.

Enjoy the small wins

It’s easy to feel a sense of disappointment and frustration when a plan isn’t going as well as expected. Oftentimes, it’s the small wins that go unnoticed. You can stay motivated by paying attention to what is working well. Set your intentions on completing 1 or 2 projects at a time. Watch as your motivation increases when things start moving in the right direction. Remember the old adage that Rome was not built in one day. Remaining consistent and on course with achieving your goals can lead to a big victory at the end.

Don’t forget about self-care

Routine exercise, rest and a healthy diet are essential to promoting a strong sense of well-being. Taking a walk or run while enjoying outdoor scenery is a good way to release stress. Hobbies such as crafting, cooking, listening to music and participating in sports build confidence and creativity. Engaging in group activities promotes a sense of belonging. It’s a good idea to stay connected to your inner circle.

Focus on the positive

Gratitude is a great attitude! Reset your thoughts on something positive.  Place your attention on things that make you smile such as looking at family photos, reading inspirational quotes, or having a conversation with a close colleague or friend. Remember, it’s the simple things in life that bring the most joy and will help get us through these uncertain times together.

Vidette Forbes is the regional chief nursing officer for Encompass Health’s northeast region

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