It’s a difficult time to be a medical professional, there’s so much uncertainty. And while the experience of uncertainty is unified, it’s not the same uncertainty for all.
Some health carers are in a sort of suspended animation.
The planning is done, everything is adjusted for physical distancing, you are ready, but where are the patients? No COVID-19 patients, few patients at all. Emergency departments have never been so quiet. This waiting can be unnerving and frustrating.
What to do? How does one manage so much unfamiliar terrain? What does one do with anticipatory energy when nothing major happens?
Some, like those in New York, Milan and Istanbul have been completely overwhelmed, responding as if in a war, to the thousands of people infected with COVID-19. Being confronted with the fear and threat this virus has brought to their patients, themselves and their families on a daily basis for weeks.
These health carers with their broken faces, broken hearts and steel wills have given everything they have in the fight to save lives.
Others are managing the reality of having seen so much death and destruction in so short a time, it’s too unreal to comprehend. Left with a sadness too deep to know how to express yet and literally wondering how they got out alive. Mourning their colleagues, their patients and their old lives.
In confusing times like these it can feel like nothing can help. It’s important to remember that we share a common humanity and you are not alone. Remembering our shared humanness is an act of self-compassion, an act of radical acceptance and love.
Self-compassion has been shown to lower levels of stress, anxiety and depression. Practicing self-compassion can help us avoid destructive and self-limiting thoughts. Self-compassion can help us build resilience and wellbeing.
Start by remembering you are human. There is vulnerability in this realisation. Being present in the moment to your own humanness is a moment of mindful self-compassion. Take a moment to be present to your experience – whatever it is and say this to yourself:
I am human, I share my humanness with every other person on the planet and I can be kind to myself for one breath. Start small, be willing to feel all that you are for one breath.
Inhale…pause…exhale…pause. If it feels useful, repeat or repeat again lots of separate times throughout the day.
That’s all. You are enough.