People in high-stress, demanding fields of work, such as doctors, nurses, firefighters, and police, often face a serious amount of mental and emotional distress as a result of their work. However, this is one of the most overlooked and undiscussed aspects of these types of jobs. The risk of developing depression or anxiety disorders or winding up in a state of burnout are very high, and yet they are often swept aside and not given the attention that such serious mental health issues deserve. If you are an essential worker, you may find that the stress of your job has been affecting your mental state, and there are some things you can do to prioritize your own self-care and keep yourself happy and healthy.
Acknowledge The Problem
If you go through your life trying to pretend that everything is fine when it isn’t, you aren’t going to do yourself any good. If anything, you’ll most likely end up exacerbating any mental health problems you’re dealing with by trying to ignore them. Acknowledging that you’re not bulletproof and need to take a step back is incredibly difficult, but it’s one of the most important things you can do to help yourself. Admitting to yourself and to others that you’re not okay, but you want to work towards getting better, is the first step.
Cultivate Healthy Relationships and Support
Even people who don’t face the same high stress conditions as essential workers require some external support from family and loved ones, so it only makes sense that you will need to put extra focus on this part of your life. Spending time with positive people who make you feel good is always helpful, and just having a group of friends that you know you can lean on when you need a helping hand will do a lot of good for your mental health. Take the time once in a while to check in with these people and make time to meet up with them, either virtually or in person. Additionally, it might be a good idea to look into support groups that are specific to your profession. Having a place to vent with people who understand what you’re going through and mutually support each other can be very helpful.
Schedule Regular Time for Yourself
Self care is a powerful tool when it comes to your mental health, and although it can be hard to make time for yourself when dealing with a busy schedule, you’ll be sure to thank yourself for it later. Making sure you eat nutritious meals, exercise, and get enough sleep are the baseline, and it’s also helpful to try practices like journaling, mindfulness or meditation, and engage in hobbies and pastimes that make you happy. These things will help to set you up for success both physically and mentally. While they won’t be able to entirely mitigate any external stress or unhappiness you may be dealing with, if you neglect these parts of your life they will make you feel worse, so it’s best to give them the attention they deserve.
Rest When You Can
Finding time not only to get enough sleep, but also simply to rest in general, can be a real challenge when you are an essential worker. Long shifts can leave you feeling like you have no time to accomplish any of the other things you need to get done in your life, and prioritizing rest can end up falling through the cracks, leading to the potential for burnout down the line. Whenever you’re able to find time to relax, whether you’re reading a book, watching TV, taking a quiet walk, or anything else that helps you to wind down, try and take advantage of it. These moments where you’re not hurrying around are very necessary to ensuring that you aren’t running on empty.
See a Professional
In the face of so much stress day to day, sometimes the best thing that an essential worker can do for the sake of their mental health is to see a therapist. Having someone to talk to who is trained to help you handle difficult times will be enormously beneficial, and a professional will be able to give you coping skills and treatment options that you wouldn’t be able to access alone. Even if you feel like you’re not in enough of a crisis to need to see a professional, remember that people seek out therapy for all kinds of reasons, and having a stressful career is one of them.
Essential workers are a vital part of our society, and protecting your mental wellbeing is of the utmost importance because of this. If you or someone you love is struggling with their mental health, TMS Center of the Lehigh Valley may be able to help you. Contact us today to learn about our treatment options.