The Professional Support and Wellbeing team are aware that this is a very challenging time for everyone and are conscious that there may be an increased need for support over the coming months.
The Professional Support and Wellbeing team are functioning as business as usual currently and recommend that routine referrals are still made so as not to delay providing support to trainees who may be struggling or in need of additional support.
The team are aware that this unprecedented situation may mean that trainees who, in normal circumstances usually function well, may struggle and therefore there may be an increased demand on the need for input from Professional Support and Wellbeing. We are planning for this and working with our service providers to ensure that we have capacity to deal with an increase in demand.
There are lots of online resources available for doctors and other healthcare professionals at this time which can be downloaded as a PDF here
If you are aware of trainees who are impacted by the current situation and where local support is not appropriate, please do not hesitate to contact the team firstname.lastname@example.org Trainees are also able to contact the team directly should they wish to do so.
Our colleagues at Phoenix Psychology have provided an insight into psychological responses which can be found below and downloaded from here
Psychological Responses to Coronavirus
Normal responses to an abnormal situation.
What we are all currently experiencing is a genuine threat. A world-wide pandemic of this scale and magnitude is not something most of us will have ever experienced or encountered. We have no shared narrative of what it’s like, what it will be like and how it’s likely to impact on our lives both now and in the future. We can’t see it, we don’t know where it is and it wasn’t very long ago that our lives were going on as normal, with bars and restaurants open, our children going to school every day and being able to physically connect with those we care about.
Even when we became aware that coronavirus had affected other countries, it is normal that we assumed it would not affect us in this way and therefore did not connect with the threat in the same way we are now. So our minds and bodies are doing the job they are designed to do and they are responding to this. You may notice waves of anxiety in your body, whilst your body prepares itself to respond to this threat. This is both a normal and a needed response. It is our body telling us how much we value and care about our lives, our loved ones and our communities.
As human beings we maintain our psychological health and well-being through managing and balancing our threats, engaging in meaningful activity, feeling connected to those around us and being driven to achieve. Currently, we are all struggling to do these things. We don’t yet know how to manage this threat, our meaningful activities are being forced to change, we are uncertain about our futures and are being told to stay away from others.
It is because of this we say again, it is understandable to be experiencing anxiety, low mood and/or anger, your mind and body are responding normally to this abnormal situation. They are doing the best they can at this time.
The additional challenges you have as Keyworkers
As keyworkers not only are you exposed to all the current stressors mentioned above but you are also experiencing additional challenges. You are having to continue to work, which means you are everyday walking towards the invisible threat that everyone is being told to stay away from. You are worrying about your own friends and family if you become unwell. And then your basic needs for food, sleep, drink and rest are likely not being met.
So what can I do?
This is not a list of things that will get rid of the anxiety, the low mood or your anger. These emotions are understandable at this time. Rather they are some ideas that may be helpful to get through this.
- Notice and Name: Identify and label your feelings, if you can do this with others that is great, but definitely do this for yourself, for example I am noticing lots of anxiety symptoms in my body today.
- Reconnect with your values: Remind yourself why you chose this career, connect with those values of caring for others, protecting others and being present with others at these difficult times.
- Sharing our experiences: Connect with others who are experiencing similar, share a group sigh and acknowledgement of how tough it is right now.
- Empathy: Remind yourself you are doing the very best you can in these uncertain times. Remind yourself that what you are experiencing is natural and understandable.
Self-Compassion: Our minds tell us that we shouldn’t feel like this, we shouldn’t react like this, we should be able to handle it better, we shouldn’t have these thoughts and feelings. Pain is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign you are a living, caring human being. It’s something you have in common with every living caring human being on the planet. Remember your pain tells you that you have a heart, that you care deeply, that some things really matter to you.
- Breath: Take a few deep breaths, and with these breaths remind yourself you are not alone
- Basic Care: As much as you can sleep, drink and eat regularly.
- Connection: Connect with those you care about. Social connections are so important. Spend whatever time you can with people who care about you and treat you kindly. Use facetime, messenger, skype, zoom or any other platform to make these connections.
- Mindfulness: Take some time to look at the world, notice the nature and appreciate the beauty. It is always there even at these uncertain scary times.
- Remember our strengths: Know that even if the changes and the loss you are experiencing continue longer term, you will find new strategies to manage and adapt, you will develop new ways of feeling. Remembering that we humans are incredibly resilient and even when faced with the greatest atrocities, we find ways to cope and develop a “new normal.”
- Kindness: Remembering that we can find strength and comfort in the kindness of others and, in times like this, it is common for people to reach out and help one another.
Can I get some support?
As we said at the beginning what you are experiencing is a normal reaction to abnormal events, however this does not mean you wouldn’t benefit from some support.
Some useful resources are:
http://www.actcompanion.com/ This is a useful app for smart phones, they are currently allowing access to this for free during this time. The password is TOGETHER.
https://www.headspace.com/ This is a useful app it has lots of examples of mindfulness and relaxation exercises. It is free for 30 days.
https://www.compassionatemind.co.uk/resources/audio The compassionate mind foundation has some great resources to explore.
However, you may also find it helpful to talk through your thoughts and feelings with someone. Someone willing and able to support you on this unprecedented journey you are taking. We are here to support you, please contact PSU anytime and they will direct you through to us.
We don’t know how long this will last so please see accessing support as an essential part of your self-care.