Wold Mental Health Day, 2021
Looking After Your Mental Health Post-Covid
The last 18 months have been a rollercoaster for most professions and possibly none more so than pharmacists at all levels. In the previous 18 months, we’ve had to deliver more workshops on resilience and stress management and individuals for 1:1 sessions are more than ever with the most common themes of stress, anxiety, and burnout.
I know there is still a long way to go; however, now might be a good time to take stock. Even the most resilient of us have a limit. We all reach a point where our batteries need to recharge, so let’s learn how.
Below are some simple but effective tips to help you manage stress more effectively.
1. Talk, talk and talk some more
It is good to talk. In fact, there are several amazing benefits that a good chat can have. Ideally, this chat should be with a professional trained to deal with stress and anxiety. There will be no judgment, just an objective, listening ear. If you feel uncomfortable approaching these people (and many people do, so you are not alone in this), talk to a colleague but try to keep the chat as objective as possible. The challenge of talking to a supportive colleague is that they will often offer a tea and
sympathy approach, which isn’t always helpful.
2. Use all your senses
Intentionally and actively using your senses is a great way to help reduce stress. Some examples include:
- Have a photo of your loved ones, friends, pets, etc. Keep them close – on your desk if you have one, on your phone, or in your wallet/purse.
- Take time out to watch your favourite movie, TV show, or comedy clip on YouTube. Laughing and smiling allow the release of happy hormones like serotonin and dopamine (you know this. You’re a pharmacist!).
- Pick up the phone and chat with a loved one or a friend.
- Listen to music or your favourite podcast.
- Step outside and appreciate nature by listening to the birds or the waves crashing on a local beach.
- Hug someone!
- Put on your favourite cardigan or sweater.
- Stroke your pet(s) or go for a walk barefoot in the garden or local park. Just getting up and physically moving around is a great way to elevate your mood.
- Exercise of any form is a great stress buster, especially if it’s outside!
- Use scented candles or pamper yourself with a spray of your favourite aftershave, perfume, or body oil. Literally, take some time to smell the roses (or coffee!).
- Eat and drink something you enjoy (in moderation, though!).
- Treat yourself at the end of a busy week with a meal in your favourite restaurant, or get your favourite takeaway.
- Cook your favourite meal at home.
3. Write it down
Journaling (in my day, we called it keeping a diary) is a great way to get things off your chest. Assuming no one will see what you write, be as honest as you can be about your feelings and the cause(s). If you want, you can always write on scrap paper and throw it away or burn it (safely) after writing. Many people find this cathartic.
There are lots of great breathing techniques out there that can help to reduce stress and anxiety. One of our favourites is the 7 – 11 breathing technique. You can Google or look it up on YouTube.
5. Ask for help
This final point is the most important of all those above. If you feel like you’re reaching a burnout point or just feeling overwhelmed, reach out and ask for help. Sometimes this is the hardest thing to do, but it is well worth it. Remember this – If a colleague asked you for help, you’d do everything to help them. Take a chance on them; they’d most likely want to help you as well.
Tom is an award winning trainer and coach. His company, TLP, specialises in leadership and management training for NHS, Pharmaceutical and Medical Device companies. TLP has also worked globally with healthcare systems and professionals all over the world. As well as providing training and coaching in these critical areas, Tom is also a qualified trainer of Neuro Linguistic Programming and Clinical Hypnotherapy. He helps corporate and personal clients that he sees in his private practice in Rodney street in Liverpool and works as part of the global training team that assist Dr. Richard Bandler and Paul McKenna at their seminars in the U.K. and the U.S.