I'm a nurse. This is how I've coped throughout the pandemic.
I have always been in complete awe of healthcare professionals. Our health and lives are in their hands and they step up to the plate every single day. There can never be an off day - an extra layer of pressure that they have to take on for our sake. If that isn't the definition of a hero, I simply don't know what is.
I've had the pleasure of knowing Sophie for quite a few years now given we have the honour of sharing an amazing mutual friend. I know Sophie has been working throughout the pandemic - unsurprising given I've always deemed her a strong, determined and courageous woman. So, I wanted to catch up with her and find out how she has been coping and if there is any advice she'd give to other professionals who might be struggling.
How long have you been a nurse and what made you want to be a nurse in the first place?
I’ve been a paediatric nurse for 18 months now. I actually didn’t decide to become a nurse until I was 23 and living in Australia. I’ve always loved caring for others, especially children. It was my time as an au pair (a live in nanny) that made me decide to go back to university as a post graduate to study nursing.
What do you find most challenging about being a nurse?
I think it’s possibly the stress I personally feel as I put a lot of pressure on myself (as most nurses do) to provide the best care possible. You are responsible for this little human’s life at times and it can be overwhelming.
How do you balance being empathetic and compassionate and protecting your mental health?
I think it’s so important to do a job you love and are passionate about. Of course it will have its moments, but this really helps me as it means I generally look forward to going to work.
I also make sure to book in annual leave when I can. Even if it’s not to go away anywhere, time away from work to recharge is so important.
Exercise for me, personally, is also a huge outlet. I find it really helps me with my anxiety and general mental wellbeing.
Can you remember one of your hardest days at work and how did you work through it or process what happened?
As nurse, we are always encouraged to reflect when negative and positive things happen. I try and do this as much as I can whether that’s speaking to my mum, who is also a nurse, or writing it down I have a little book where I write all my reflections down.
How have you coped working during the pandemic?
My family and friends have been my saving grace as well as my work colleagues. It’s been so important to talk to each other during this time and to sometimes remember to leave work at work, where possible.
What has been the hardest part about working during the pandemic?
At times, I found it very lonely. I felt like I was on auto pilot going to work where I had been redeployed to adult intensive care, working in this completely foreign, scary environment and then I came home to an empty flat as I was living alone at the time.
What advice would you give to any other nurses struggling with their mental health?
I would advise them to talk to someone – anyone you feel comfortable talking to. You are not alone with how you are feeling and there are so many people that can and want to help you.
I personally reflect regularly. We often do not realise that sometimes we take on so much that we need to reflect on it to take away the burden it so often makes us carry.
Be kind to yourself.
For more information on how to manage your wellbeing during the pandemic, visit www.mind.org.uk