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Self-care and mental health have been increasingly talked about these days and rightfully so. Most of us have never dealt with a crisis such as COVID-19 which has caused a heightened level of anxiety and distress in almost everyone. Even in the absence of a pandemic, health care providers are more susceptible to stressors. The care of patients, staff, health of your business, let alone the well-being of family and friends is quite a balancing act. When do you have time to focus on you?

Why is Mental Health Important

Mental health is a vital part of living a healthy, balanced life. It can impact your effectiveness and productivity in all activities and decisions made throughout the day. With increased complexity of healthcare and now a pandemic, increased feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression are not uncommon. There are many studies that have shown that increased levels of stress, burnout, and/or depression lead to a decrease in productivity and an increase in medical errors. For some, it can spill over to family life. That’s why it is even more important to focus on your mental health at this time.

Stress Management Strategies

There are several different strategies focused on stress reduction that you can implement throughout the day. Eating healthy and exercising, even if it’s a 15-minute walk between patients, can help decrease stress and improve your focus. Yoga provides both exercise and meditation with deep breathing and relaxation techniques that aim to calm your body and mind in just a few minutes. If you can, sneak in a nap. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 20-30 minute short naps for short term alertness. Surround yourself with positivity both outside and in. Keep positive energy, people, and self-talk around you. Remember, that all of these do not happen overnight and requires practice.

Accessible Resources and Programs

The great thing about technology is that resources are literally at the tip of your fingers. Headspace, a mediation and wellness app, is offering free access through the end of the year for health care providers. Calm, Breath2Relax, and Melissawoodhealth.com are apps focusing on mediation, breathing techniques, and yoga for stress reduction you can do in between patients. Peloton and other guided exercise apps have also been offering free trials during this quarantine period. Although there are many digital resources readily available, sometimes it’s not enough. Never be afraid to reach out to professionals for support.

As the world continues to navigate through uncharted waters, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Taking the time during this pandemic to focus on your mental health and practice different stress management strategies will ultimately benefit your patients, your practice, your family, and most importantly you.

Weslie Hamada
Dr. Weslie Hamada is an industry consultant, serves on the AOA Content Review Committee and is the Sr. Director OD Engagement at Luxottica Eye Care.

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