Healthcare leaders and their teams have been stretched to the max and are feeling tapped out. Even though they may love their jobs, some days they dread going to work. Anyone can bounce back from an occasional crisis, but our healthcare teams have experienced crisis, after crisis, after crisis with little or no time to recover; leaving them with an empty “cup”. To make matters worse, leaders are not sure how to best help themselves let alone their teams. How can leaders fill their employee’s cup when they themselves feel depleted too? The solution is to implement simple resilience strategies that will replenish themselves and their employees so that they can face each new workday with confidence and a sense of purpose.
Increased burnout and exhaustion among healthcare professionals
Now that the covid-19 numbers are starting to go down, healthcare professionals are starting to realize the physical and emotional toll this past year has had on them. We are already seeing a rise in mental health issues in our country as the crisis calms down and people are less in reactive mode. All the emotions that haven’t been dealt with are beginning to surface in depression, PTSD, etc.
Unless healthcare providers are intentional about attending to the grief and the emotional impact of what they’ve been through, they’re more likely to become ill and/or it will come out in a rise in burnout, compassion fatigue, incivility and disrespectful behavior.
Beating burnout and compassion fatigue is a skill we can learn
The good news is resilience strategies and skills can be learned. Burnout, compassion fatigue, incivility, etc. can all be minimized if not completely prevented by healthcare workers daily attending to their own self-care and “filling their cup”.
What are Resilience Strategies?
No one can thrive when in constant crisis mode without it eventually taking a toll on them physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Our front line professionals have shown their resilience throughout the pandemic, but now it’s essential to make taking care of them a priority – to refill their cup. Leaders can help them by sharing a few strategies evidence shows help reduce fatigue and increase resilience.
Here are a few resilience strategies you can share with your front line (and yourself)
Make time daily just for you
Just as you have your work schedule on your calendar, schedule time for yourself. It can be as simple as 5 minutes sprinkled throughout your day to simply stop and focus on your breathing. If 5 minutes is too long, take a minute to reflect on something positive that is happening and let the positivity sink in to all of your senses.
Build physical hardiness
Don’t let life harden you – build hardiness instead. Taking care of you to keep your mind and body primed to deal with situations that require resilience.
Make small changes to improve your health – better sleep hygiene, proper nutrition and hydration – and be accountable to someone other than yourself.
Fill in the blanks and set your intent.
One change I will make this week is __________________________________
Who will I tell and have serve as my accountability person? ____________________
Write it down
Set a timer for 15 minutes and write without censoring to acknowledge what you’ve been through in the past year. It’s a way to sort through the myriad of emotions you’re experiencing so they don’t come out in negative ways at work, like being edgy, irritable, or short-tempered with a co-worker or family members.
Getting negative thoughts and emotions out of your “head” and onto paper is one of the most powerful resilience strategies that decrease negative mental chatter.
Increase positive emotions daily
Create a list of things that bring you joy/happiness. List what you are grateful for or write a gratitude letter to a friend/colleague.
Acknowledge your accomplishments. Take a few minutes each day to celebrate what you have achieved and the accomplishments of others.
See the humor in life: Laugh, giggle, chuckle, or smile. Smiling inevitably increases your serotonin (the happy hormone in your brain) and the serotonin in those who see you smile.
Consider outside support
At the Healthy Workforce Institute, we recognized how much our healthcare professionals were struggling to cope with the enormous burdens they’ve experienced during this pandemic. To help, we developed a virtual program to specifically address the extreme negative emotions healthcare professionals had to keep buried so that they could care for COVID positive patients – emotions that without being acknowledged were beginning to resurface in damaging ways.
Our “Fill Your Cup” virtual interactive program is designed to provide healthcare professionals with the strategies they need to cope with the unintended consequences of a prolonged pandemic. As we know, leaders and their teams are suffering from grief, exhaustion, fear, and anxiety.
This program provides them with an emotional framework to manage those emotions in a way that helps them build their resilience muscles.
In this program, employees gain a renewed sense of meaning about their work as healthcare professionals.
Healthcare employees leave with clarity about what they will tell their children, grandchildren, and future nurses of what it was like being a healthcare professional during the pandemic of 2020. They will gain a heightened resolve to give their best.
Going forward, instead of each day feeling depleted, they’ll wake up with feeling a sense of purpose about their contribution in this time of history.
Responses when healthcare providers implement simple strategies to take care of themselves:
(taken from Fill Your Cup chat box after implementing resilience boosting strategies during program)
- Improves mental clarity…
- Even though things are stressful, it helps to remember there are still happy things happening…
- Relaxing and resets your mindset…
- It’s a great way to start my day…
- Connecting personally with my co-workers helps me to know I’m not alone in what I’m feeling….
Give your front line a gift. Fill their cup with one (or two) of these resilience strategies. It will be one of the best things you can do to care for them so in turn, they can continue caring for others.