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Self-care tips for frontline workers

Our frontline workers are doing everything they can to help keep us safe during these uncertain times. We wanted to put together some self-care tips to help them keep themselves going, both emotionally and physically.

By Faith Richardson

For many of us at the moment, being on lockdown means we’re stuck in the house, either working from home or trying to keep ourselves occupied until COVID-19 is finally contained. However, for many people considered “key workers” who are on the frontline doing what they can to help us, lockdown looks very different. Whilst many of us can use this enforced time at home to try a new hobby, practice relaxation techniques and spend more time with the members of our household, frontline workers don’t have that luxury. Here are some handy tips that they can employ to try and keep themselves safe.

Stay away from the media

During such scary times, it’s natural to feel like you want to stay abreast of every little piece of news that’s coming in. However, with your work already being incredibly stressful and centred around everything that’s going on, give yourself permission to switch off from the news. Any information that’s important for you and your job will be given to you by your management as soon as necessary.

Allowing yourself to be sucked into a cycle of working in a stressful place all day, then coming home and continuing that stressful environment means you’ll quickly burn out mentally. If you hate the idea of not knowing what’s going on, consider following an account such as Simple Politics on Instagram so you can get key information, without hours of information overload.

Keep home life normal

As soon as you step foot through your front door after work, try to leave your work head at the door. It can be easy to feel like you should be constantly worrying, or preparing and planning for your next day, but instead allow yourself to maintain a home-life that’s as close to normal as possible. Switch off phones, enjoy dinner with your partner, run yourself a bath or watch a film you’ve been wanting to watch for ages. Set aside your weekends or days off (where possible) for family time, lie-ins, and pampering yourself. Letting yourself enjoy your home life is key to keeping your work-related stress and anxiety at bay.

Why not check out our article on Ten Budget-Friendly Ways to Practice Self-Care

Allow yourself to have fun

Just because we’re in lockdown, doesn’t mean we aren’t allowed to enjoy ourselves. It can be hard not to feel guilty for enjoying yourself when so much is happening around you, particularly if you work in a role such as the NHS where you’re surrounded by difficult situations day in and day out. However, give yourself a break. It’s ok to come home, put your favourite slippers on and have a laugh on Skype with a friend or watch silly videos on YouTube. Having fun and enjoying yourself will actually help you do your job better, as you’ll be more positive.

Need inspiration? Read my article on How to Pass the Time When You’re Self-Isolating

Stay social

Keep in touch with your loved ones and friends as much as possible. Speak to them about how you’re feeling and enjoy talking about something mundane and silly to take your mind off things too. It can help you feel more balanced and sharing the burden of what you’re dealing with will help take some of the pressure off you. Download an app such as House Party or Skype and plan a night in with your friends over group video chat – it’ll help you feel normal and separate work time and downtime.

Take up meditation

Now more than ever is a great time to try to get into meditation. It can be as simple or complicated as you like, and it will make all the difference in the long run to your emotional state throughout these trying times. Meditation doesn’t just have to be done at home – you can practice it whilst on a break at work, on the bus on the way home or at night before bed, to give yourself space to breathe, relax and reboot during a stressful time.

We asked Sian, our resident therapist, to give us a quick guided hypnosis to help you quieten your mind and learn how to take some time for yourself to relax and decompress after a stressful day at work. Watch the video here.

Take care of yourself

Most importantly of all, take care of yourself. Try to stay as healthy, both mentally and physically, as possible and find a balance to keep yourself as positive as possible. Ask your partner to prepare you nutritious and comforting meals when you return home from work – but also treat yourself to a delicious takeaway once in a while too. Don’t over-stress yourself if you don’t have time for exercise, although now may be a great time to try yoga as a way of keeping mobile and easing anxiety at the same time.

Maintain a high standard of hygiene and keep washing your hands regularly – if your hands are already feeling the brunt of a rigorous washing regime, treat yourself to some of our hand-care items and take time for a super-quick pamper.

Embrace alone time

Some key workers have been forced to move out of their family home to protect their loved ones from possibly catching the virus, others may already have been living alone, and some may just be trying to carve out some much-needed “me time”. Whatever your alone time looks like, try to make the most of it.

If you’re living alone or have had to move away from your family for the time being, it can feel incredibly lonely to suddenly not be able to pop round to a friend’s house at the weekend or be able to put your children to bed. Try to see it as some much-needed downtime to allow your brain to switch off from the chaos of the day. Enjoy your favourite tv show with no interruptions, cook your favourite dinner or order from your favourite takeaway as a treat. Take some time to meditate or get an early night and catch up on some sleep.

If you’re still around your family (maybe even more than usual now they’re at home all the time), finding time for yourself is important to help you recover from the day and ready you for your next shift. Ask your partner to take care of the children or amuse himself for a couple of hours whilst you engage in some of your favourite solo-activities, like a relaxing bubble bath, practicing yoga or just sitting down and doing a jigsaw, some knitting or one of your favourite hobbies.

Try to switch off during this alone time. Let your mind be calm and try to think of things other than work, the news and what’s happening at the moment.

Whatever your frontline job is, try to maintain a positive mindset and remember – it won’t be like this forever.

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