Focus on what you can control

Last reviewed on 1 February 2021

As the COVID-19 pandemic goes on, there is no let-up for those working in health and social care. The vaccine rollout may provide a glimmer of hope but, with high infection rates, you’re still facing enormous challenges every day. Whether you work in intensive care, as a GP, in a care home, as a paramedic or in another vital role, this second wave of the pandemic might be feeling even worse than the first.

After months on the frontline, you’re no doubt exhausted. You might worry about your own health or passing the virus on to your family. Perhaps you feel anxious, sad or angry about the current situation. You might be grieving the loss of a loved one, a patient or a colleague. And, with little time to process the traumatic events of the last year, you might be experiencing symptoms of PTSD, such as nightmares and panic attacks.

Last year, we published advice for healthcare professionals, advice for people working in residential social care and home care and advice to help you look after yourself and support your colleagues. We know you might feel like you’re running on empty right now so, in this article, we suggest some of the best Good Thinking resources to help you focus on what you can control and encourage you to take time to rest and re-energise.

If you’d like to talk to someone in confidence about any concerns you have, trained counsellors are available on the following helplines:

  • Call 0800 06 96 222 (NHS staff support line – 7am to 11pm every day)
  • Call 0300 131 7000 (social care staff support line – 7am to 11pm every day)
  • Call 0300 303 4434 (bereavement support line – 8am to 8pm every day)
  • Text FRONTLINE to 85258 (24/7)

The NHS People website contains lots of useful information about managing your own health and wellbeing and there is also a comprehensive list of resources on the COVID Trauma Response Working Group website.

How to deal with stress (article)

With so much going on, how can you manage your stress levels? In this article, we take a look at the advice of Dr Russ Harris, author of The Happiness Trap, who suggests there is something simple that you can do in any type of crisis: focus on what’s in your control.

Why a micropause can help your mental health today (podcast)

When overwhelmed and stressed, it can feel like there is nothing that can help you. Mindfulness Trainer and Consultant Psychologist Janet Wingrove shares how even a small pause, some breathing space, can start the journey to feeling calmer and more resilient and reconnect you with those values that help you to keep going. Please note, this podcast was recorded in April 2020.

Meditainment (app)

Sometimes the most helpful thing is to take a break from it all. Download the Meditainment app to access established guided meditation and visualisation techniques, which will lead you on imaginative journeys to dreamlike destinations where you’ll explore and reflect on a range of wellbeing topics. Think of it as being like a mini-break or indoor vacation that can help you sleep better and feel calmer and more refreshed.

Benefits of healthy sleep patterns (podcast)

When stressed, one of the things that has been shown to help the most is a good night’s sleep. Michael Farquhar, an expert in sleep medicine, shares his insights on what helps to improve the length and quality of sleep. Please note, this podcast was recorded in April 2020.

How to connect with nature to boost your wellbeing (article)

Many studies have found links between nature, wellbeing and mental health – being outside can reduce stress, improve mood and encourage physical activity. In this article, Good Thinking provides 10 tips for connecting with nature in your spare time.

tomo (app)

tomo is expertly designed to support you with many of life's obstacles, including social anxiety and poor sleep. The app combines digital peer support with the best of social media and proven therapeutic techniques.

Dealing with stress and trauma (podcast)

Professor Neil Greenberg shares insights on how people, including frontline staff, have responded to the stress and traumas of the COVID-19 pandemic. Done well, there is the prospect of hope and growth. Please note, this podcast was recorded in June 2020.

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