It starts with mindfulness, nutrition, and exercise
Considerable and well-deserved attention has been paid to the mental health of those heroic frontline healthcare workers in hospitals and ERs caring for COVID-19 patients.
However, there are many other providers, like primary care physicians, internists, and specialists, as well as PAs, NPs, and RNs, who are also experiencing exceptionally high levels of depression, anxiety, and fear.
I study the influence of pressure on performance and how elite athletes, pilots, soldiers, and others in high-stress positions have learned how to mitigate its negative effects. My colleague at The University of Exeter in the U.K., Luciana Torquati, PhD, is a lecturer in nutrition with a background in studying the relationship between diet, physical activity, and health outcomes in nurses.
Recognizing that all providers today need help coping with the COVID-19 crisis, we partnered with Dignity Health Global Education (DHGE) to create a one-hour micro-course called Strength to Endure. Here are twelve steps that research tells us are vital to help providers manage the stress, depression, and anxiety associated with COVID-19.
While there is hope on the horizon, the COVID-19 crisis and its aftermath will continue for the foreseeable future. There will continue to be unprecedented challenges and uncertainties. However, we do know that to care for patients, you must first care for yourself physically and mentally. Follow the guidance you give those you care for, and remember to be mindful, positive, and most importantly, kind to yourself.
Mark Wilson, PhD, is a Professor of Performance Psychology and Head of the Department of Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom—one of the world’s top schools for the study of sports’ performance psychology.