When the COVID-19 crisis began a year ago, an unprecedented number of people developed high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. Those who already suffered from those mental health issues before the pandemic often found their conditions worsened.
The spotlight turned to the professional treatment community. Therapists, doctors, and other treatment program providers found themselves charged with providing the answers to how to cope. Many treatment providers themselves faced stress and anxiety over COVID-19. They worried about the health of their families and themselves.
These treatment providers were tasked with leading others in healing while trailblazing the path needed to cope during a worldwide pandemic. Now, as society moves into the beginning stages of the post-pandemic world, the same treatment professionals find themselves in similar leadership roles. Once again, they must navigate the unknown and remain a consistent beacon of light for their patients.
Focusing on Self-Care Benefits Both You and Your Clients
The first step to helping patients make the switch to a post-pandemic society revolves around self-care. While self-care for the patient remains important, self-care for the providers should not be neglected. How well you take care of yourself spills over into the care of your patients.
Setting a Policy on What Types of Appointments You Will Offer
Many treatment providers find themselves preparing to transition away from schedules heavy with telehealth appointments. Some may employ a hybrid method of offering both telehealth and in-person sessions. Others may find it best to make a complete switch back to office appointments only. Make a decision based on what works best for you.
You may not feel prepared to see patients only in the office. You might prefer to start conducting all sessions in your office. Whatever your instinct is for the beginning stages of reintegration, respect your level of comfort moving forward.
Once you have decided what approach works for you, explain your policy to your patients. Knowing you have settled on what the next phase of your treatment practice will look like helps with self-care. Making this decision removes uncertainty and instills the confidence of having a game plan.
Exercise and Eating Healthy Benefits Any Self-Care Plan
Sometimes telling patients to eat healthy and exercise becomes routine, but remember that the advice also applies to you. Many people slipped into unhealthy eating habits while quarantined. Give your dietary intake some consideration. If you see room for improvement, take action.
Many professionals enjoyed the benefit of exercising as part of a group. The pandemic closed down many options for that, but many gyms and fitness centers show signs of reopening. If you are ready to restart (or begin) a group workout, look around for options. Many gyms are cautiously reopening. Choices like yoga classes and running groups now offer spaces again.
If you prefer to work out alone, make sure you establish a schedule and keep to it. At-home gym equipment paired with upbeat music can inspire you to keep up with your workouts. Like running, biking, or hiking, outdoor exercise gives you the bonus of fresh air and warmer weather.
Choosing Which Pandemic Guidelines Should Still Apply For Now
The pandemic swept in a host of boundaries people had to learn. Avoiding things like hugging and handshaking became a habit. People habitually wore masks and respected recommended social distancing guidelines. As society reintegrates, many may assume those rules all go out the window.
Make no assumptions about how you should behave. If you still feel wearing a mask during in-person appointments should be required, that is your right. You may also want to talk to your patients about other related policies. Let them know if you still want to refrain from handshaking, hugging, or other forms of physical contact. Discuss with your staff what your policy will be for themselves and your patients.
Sneak in Short Moments of Self-Care
A typical day does not always provide long stretches of time for self-care. While an hour of yoga or a massage might be tempting, your schedule may not be open to these activities. Keep in mind that you can take small chunks of time and devote them to self-care.
Try closing yourself off in a private area, putting in earbuds, and playing a favorite song at top volume. Dance if the spirit moves you! You can also use the same space to take five minutes to close your eyes, concentrate on your breathing, and clear your mind.
Seek Support From Your Peers
Other treatment professionals can be a valuable source of support. They understand the career concerns you are up against better than anyone. Look for formal support groups, both in-person and virtual.
If you can’t find one of those, form a chain of colleagues with a similar interest in self-care. The group can look to each other for support. They can also bounce ideas off each other. Brainstorming how to take care of yourselves spills over into taking better care of your patients.
When the pandemic began over a year ago, treatment professionals were expected to provide all the answers for their patients. Now that society is reintegrating again, the same treatment providers are tasked with helping others navigate this change. The first priority for therapists, doctors, and others in the field is their own self-care. When they make sure to take care of themselves, self-care practices will spill over into their work. Sustain Recovery provides pandemic-stress-related care as part of our treatment programs. We can offer your adolescent and young adult patients a place to address their substance use disorder and any co-occurring diagnoses. If you have a patient who did not thrive while in other treatment programs, we are happy to discuss why our program is often the one that works. Call Sustain Recovery today at (949) 407-9052. We will be happy to detail a plan to help your young patient embrace recovery and a post-pandemic world.