Uncertainty breeds fear, and right now that seems to be spreading faster than the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The reality is that many of our patients are scared, and they are coming to the pharmacy for answers.

If you are working the frontlines like I am, you are facing a tremendous responsibility as a health care provider. You are also facing a tremendous opportunity during this pandemic to be a source of hope for your patients.

With social distancing and even lockdowns, it can seem difficult to have any kind of a routine to ground yourself and ensure the source of patient care—you, the pharmacist—is being taken care of as well.

When it comes to proper procedures and best practices regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, always use the CDC as your go-to resource. When it comes to mental health and self-care, to stay strong throughout this challenging time, recommendations outlined below can serve pharmacists and pharmacy students well.

Here are 5 areas to double down through social distancing:
  1. Mindset. Recognize the power of questions. The quality of questions you ask determine the quality of your life, even more during a crisis. Instead of asking “Why is this bad thing happening to me”, instead ask, “How could this situation be happening for me?” If you shift your focus to seeking solutions, that is exactly what you will find.
  2. Relaxation with Intention. Watch a movie you enjoy, or one that you have been wanting to watch for a while. The trick is to just watch the movie—not multitask and scroll through social media while the movie is playing in the background. By practicing being fully present in the moment of relaxation, you will be able to enjoy it and reap the benefits exponentially more. So enjoy your movie, and turn social distancing into social media distancing and ‘watch’ how more relaxed you become in that moment.
  3. Nutrition. We need to fuel our body and mind with the very best we can. This is an opportunity to try out new recipes and put our cooking and chemistry skills to work. Have fun with the extra time you have to get creative in the kitchen. This is an even bigger win if you have a spouse or children, as you can make this a bonding experience with quality time.
  4. Fitness. Gyms are closed, but opportunity is open for business. Get creative, and focus on different goals such as mobility and trying different exercise techniques using what you have—time. Use that resource to increase your workout intensity by focusing on TUT: Time Under Tension. You can use light weights, or just your bodyweight, to get a really effective workout by increasing the time it takes for each movement. By slowing down your range of motion through the exercise, you will speed up your fitness gains in the comfort of your own home. Always consult your physician or trainer prior to starting any exercise program.
  5. Relationships. Social distancing does not mean relational isolation. This pandemic is temporary, and we need to remember that. Use this time to reconnect with those you wish you could speak with more, via phone, Facetime, or online. Think of the last big holiday gathering when you spent time with your loved ones and make a list of those you cherish but do not get to see that frequently. Now is the time to reach out, because both you and those people have the time to reconnect.

There is a lot going on in the world right now that we cannot control, but we can control how we choose to respond. We must make sure that we are making taking care of ourselves a priority, because how we conduct ourselves really does have a ripple effect to our patients.

Our patients are watching us—they are listening to what we are saying, and this is a tremendous position of influence we are in as a profession.
 
Adam Martin, PharmD, is a community pharmacist on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic in Pittsburgh, PA. You can connect with him on Instagram @thefitpharmacist and listen to his weekly podcast, The Fit Pharmacist Healthcare Podcast, available on all podcast platforms.