Increasing Your Well-Being
Those who know me know I’d rather give up a kidney than not be able to hug someone. Refraining from hugs and handshakes and using human touch to convey care and love took a great deal of self-restraint, but it was necessary. Words are more important than ever before.
Explore This IssueJune 2020
Perhaps even more infectious than COVID-19 are our negative emotions—pessimism, hatred, anger, anxiety, and depression. It’s critical to choose positivity, laughter, patience, and forgiveness to help us experience a sense of calm, control, connectedness, kindness, and love.
There are many things you can do for yourself to increase your own positivity and well-being during this time of crisis:
Observe your own moods and emotions. There’s no better time to try journaling: Write down your greatest concerns at home and at work, and steps you can take toward each concern. If there are none, shift your focus and energy to something within your control that you can act upon.
Learning that our specialty, patients, and case types are at highest risk due to “aerosol generating procedures” and “superspreaders” created a constant level of anxiety that I’ve never experienced before.
Recognize how you deal with anxiety, fear, and not being in control. I usually go into a “mega-operational mode”—logistics, planning, communicating, and doing. However, I’ve realized that this is when I must listen deeply and generously to my spouse and others at work. It’s important to acknowledge others’ fears and anxiety without absorbing them as your own, and to express gratitude and infuse positivity as much as possible, both at work and at home. Learn to meditate, take deep breaths, and listen to “healing music” at 432Hz, or “positive energy” sound at 528 Hz frequency.
Be aware of symptoms of overload. Remember, there’s only one of you, and you can focus on only one issue at a time. When I tried to multitask without taking deep breaths and having an invisible “barrier” between myself and others, I found that negative energy became amplified and both my team and my family didn’t get the best version of me. Managing my own reactivity, frustrations, and impatience with others was critical.
The news and social media are needed sources of information, but at times they only amplify fear and anxiety, especially over what we can’t control. Be mindful of what’s helpful and what’s not amidst information overload. Decide what to read and what to ignore. Every morning upon awakening, manage your compulsion to check the total number of COVID-19 cases and deaths globally, in the U.S., and in your state. Instead, take a few deep breaths and affirm your gratitude for another day with health and the opportunity to work, serve, protect, and love.
Consider mental health counseling. This is an extraordinary time for those of us who care for others, and it may drive some of us to think about dire options that may never have even crossed our minds before. Consider New York City emergency room physician Lorna Breen, who, after caring for COVID-19 patients and even after recovering from her own bout of the illness, succumbed to depression and took her own life. For so long, the public didn’t know or appreciate the crisis of physician suicides and lack of mental health care before COVID-19. Now there’s a better understanding and true appreciation of the value of all healthcare providers.