Pharmacists are routinely putting others ahead of themselves and may not be sure how to find time for self-care.
Pharmacists are frontline health care workers, too. Much of the media focus over the past few months has been on the physicians and nurses in hospitals who are treating patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Treating acute COVID-19 patients creates health risks for frontline health care workers and their work is genuinely heroic; however, the role of the pharmacist is equally noble.
Right now, some health care providers have closed their out-patient offices and clinics, as they are only providing virtual patient visits for non-acute patients. As a result, pharmacists have been filling the gaps in patient care and their role as a caretaker has expanded in ways that many may have never thought possible.
Patients are worried about whether they will be able to get their prescriptions refilled on time and some may not be able to pay the co-pays for these prescriptions. As a result, pharmacists are in a unique position to find a solution for them.
Pharmacists may have lost patients to follow up or may have even lost some patients to COVID-19. The added stress caused by the expanding role of the pharmacist in patient care has also likely caused additional strain to their personal lives as well.
Pharmacists are routinely putting others ahead of themselves and may not be sure how to find time for self-care, which has become non-existent or intermittent at best.
Regular exercise routines have been pushed aside in favor of homeschooling activities or other urgent tasks. Sleep routines have been sacrificed, as many are trying to catch up on work into the late hours of the night.
Healthy nutrition habits have become less of a priority in favor of convenience foods. It's time to move out of triage mode and start stabilizing your routine.
Remember, when the air masks deploy on an aircraft, the instructions clearly state that you must secure your oxygen mask before helping others. Your loved ones and your friends deserve the best of you, not what's left of you.
How can you begin to shift the focus to more self-care?
As nutrition coaches, we've had a front row seat to witness just how COVID-19 has affected our clients' lives and we have felt it. We believe self-awareness, coupled with small changes in behavior, are crucial steps in making positive changes.
Here are specific suggestions for female pharmacists on how you can start to improve self-care right now. Looking back over the past several weeks, can you identify a few things that went well related to self-care?
Can you identify some areas in which you'd like to improve? Have you made time to move your body (exercise) intentionally? Have you set boundaries around your work schedule?
Have you started cooking more meals at home? Are you able to carve out some quality time with your family or friends? How have you made your mental, emotional, and physical health a priority?
Our most successful clients have followed these steps under shelter-in-place guidelines.
Here are 5 suggestions to help you create some space for self-care in the coming weeks and months:
Whatever you decide to do, start small, celebrate your progress along the way, and remember that self-care allows you to show up as your best self for your patients, family, and friends. It all starts with you, but you have to start.
Beyond The Box Nutrition is starting a 60-day Reclaim Your Health group program on June 15. If you would like to learn more about how this program or our other nutrition coaching services can help you, please click this link for more information.
Gwen Holtan & Sheena Lawrick
Co-founders Beyond The Box Nutrition