Working in the healthcare field in any capacity can be rewarding. It can also be very stressful. During the Covid-19 pandemic, mental health of healthcare workers made headlines, as nurses on the front lines talked openly about the toll long hours, stress, and lack of essential supplies took on them.
Demands of working in the neurorehabilitation field and impact on the physical and mental health of healthcare workers
When you work in a neuro rehab setting, you’re constantly exposed to patients who are struggling to regain their strength and improve their quality of life. They are always in need of encouragement and support. Workers in this demanding field often forget to practice self-care. If a healthcare worker doesn’t take proper care of their mental health, they can’t offer quality care to others, especially those who are dealing with life-altering injuries or disabilities.
Working in this field is physically and mentally demanding. Any healthcare field can be stressful. As a nurse or healthcare practitioner, it’s up to you to find ways to care of your own mental health. Long hours at work will require quality rest and relaxation time. This type of work can also be physically demanding. Many choose to cope with the stress and physical demands by using drugs or alcohol.
The mental health of healthcare workers is essential to their ability to do their jobs. When you’re at work, you may find yourself skipping meals, doing without much-needed sleep, or forgetting to be mindful of your surroundings. It’s up to you to set limits on how much you give of yourself. Take a few days off when things get to be a little too overwhelming. Go for a walk while you are on your break.
The importance of taking care of mental health for healthcare workers
Taking time for yourself is essential. When you practice self-care, you reap the rewards in many different ways. You’re able to take a step back from your work and do the things that give you joy. Participating in activities that you like will allow you to relax and be at ease.
Self-care allows you to focus more clearly. Relaxation techniques clear the mind and help to relieve stress and tension. Mental fatigue is often a problem for the mental health of healthcare workers, especially those who work in neuro rehab and other types of recovery facilities. It can lead to mistakes and patient injuries. The individual needs of each patient can be extremely diverse, making the need for customized care essential.
Ways to take time for yourself
There’s no one-size-fits all approach to relaxation. Choose what works for you. Maybe it’s a long bath at the end of the day. Or a trip to the mall on your day off. Maybe it’s listening to your favorite podcast during your commute. Choose something you truly enjoy that will help you relax and recharge. As a healthcare worker, your mental health is a top priority, but there are plenty of ways to prioritize it.
Deep tissue massage invigorates you physically and mentally. It flushes toxins from the body and helps you to remain flexible and strong. The benefit of therapeutic touch will also allow you to let go of much of the physical stress you attract during your job.
Relaxation techniques and exercises can also be helpful when it comes to self-care. Meditation, yoga, and Reiki allow you to not only relax but focus and recenter yourself so you find your inner balance. You learn to breathe more efficiently and adjust your inner flow of energy so you feel more grounded.
Physical exercise helps you to not only burn calories but work off frustration. Working out is one of the best ways to release tension that builds up in the muscles. Releasing this tension at the cellular level can prevent chronic disease and improve cardiovascular and pulmonary health.
Dangers of not taking enough time for yourself
Healthcare workers who don’t address their own mental health can eventually start to experience burnout. You may start to feel more fatigued and it takes aches and pains longer to go away. Caregivers who don’t take enough time to care for themselves may begin to experience more chronic illnesses. The stress may lead to high blood pressure, headaches, and tension in the neck and shoulders.
Another mental health pitfall for healthcare workers is relying on drugs and alcohol as a crutch. Although it can be prevented, it can also be the easiest trap to fall into. The more you get caught up in the spiraling down that often accompanies drug or alcohol addiction, the harder it is for you to find your way out. The key is finding ways to cope that don’t involve drugs or alcohol.
As a healthcare worker, if you want to be effective when it comes to caring for others, you must first make it a priority to take care of your physical and mental health. Your patients should always be your top priority, but if you are not taking care of yourself, you can’t give your 100% to them. As a healthcare worker, your mental health is a safety issue for you and your patients.
Journals.healio.com – Drug Abuse: A Self-Care Deficit
Sasheducationcampus.net – In Pursuit of Wellness: The Self-Care Imperative
Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov – Risk factors for alcohol and other drug use by healthcare professionals
Usdoj.gov – Drug Addiction in Healthcare Professionals
Samhsa.gov – Frequently Asked Questions
Sunshinebehavioralhealth.com – Non-12-Step Rehab Programs
Labblog.uofmhealth.org – Signs and Symptoms of Addiction in Medical Professionals