On March 5,2020, the Tennessee Department of Health received its first positive test result for a case of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in Tennessee. It was a time of fear and anxiety for many, especially our front-line healthcare professionals who battled the unknown course of the virus and witnessed so much suffering and death.
Years later, we continue to deal with the impact of this pandemic. The American Psychoanalytic Association has named this phenomenon the “Pandemic Trauma and Stress Experience” (PTSE). It is not a psychiatric illness but rather a shared experience that included anxiety, grief, loss, fatigue, and isolation, as well as amazing resilience. There are still persistent uncertainties about the future of this disease.
What we have been through continues to have an impact on our mental health, and for some dealing with the impact of long COVID, their physical health as well. One important lesson is that we cannot underestimate the importance our own self-care.
Here are 9 tips to remind us to enhance our own well-being.
- Take in the good. People around us are continuing to show kindness and helping others.
- As the late Fred Rogers reminded us, “My mother told me in times of tragedy and anxiety, ‘Look for the helpers. You can always find people who are helping.’" Thank them and appreciate them.
- Get exercise. Go outdoors for a walk or a hike, tend to your garden, or play with your children or pets.
- Check on those who may be depressed and let them know you care. Isolation can exacerbate depression.
- Focus on the little things that you have been too busy to notice.
- Accept that people may differ with your views but that does not make them bad people. We can agree to disagree but do so with civility and respect.
- As a VUMC employee, start on your 2023 Go for the Gold to help set your goals and prioritize your healthy lifestyle practices.
- Practice Mindfulness. Marvel at something beautiful. Tell someone that you love them.
- Unplug. Don’t get overwhelmed with media sensationalism.
If you are struggling with your mental well-being, call 615-936-1327 to schedule a confidential appointment with one of our EAP Counselors. Work/Life Connections-EAP is the program of VUMC focused on elevating your psychological resilience.