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Healing the Healers: How Healthcare Workers Can Care for Their Minds and Bodies

Healthcare workers are in great need of healing. The National Academy of Medicine reports that physicians and other healthcare professionals are twice as likely to experience burnout compared to the general population.

Unfortunately, the health situation of healthcare workers worsened in the past few years, now that 60% to 75% of the workforce reports symptoms of exhaustion, depression, sleep disorders, and PTSD. The mental health condition of healthcare workers can also affect their physical health because extreme stress levels can increase one’s risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and more.

Healthcare workers are in a high-risk profession, which is why they need to build resiliency. Here are some strategies that can help medical professionals become stronger than ever:

Find healthier coping mechanisms
Due to the high rates of burnout among healthcare professionals, many people us the Protective Pattern of Avoiding and resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms. The alarming thing is that some of these coping mechanisms are addictive substances, such as alcohol.

To combat alcoholism among healthcare workers, Nurses Peer Support Network was established to help nurses find their way back to their profession. Increased alcohol consumption is underdiagnosed and under-treated in the medical field, which is why these professionals need supportive services to relieve stress and heal unhealthy coping mechanisms. Likewise, other professionals can also connect with their family, peers, and colleagues to deal with their stress in a healthier way.

Foster a better relationship with food

Aside from alcoholic beverages, healthcare workers may find themselves reaching out for food to relieve stress. While food isn’t a bad stress reliever, healthcare professionals need to learn how to balance their diets to avoid overeating and compromising their health as a result.

Fortunately, there’s no need to say goodbye to well-known comfort foods. The weight loss plans on WeightWatchers show that people can enjoy their favorite meals as long as they are aware of their portion size and nutritional factors. This awareness can encourage healthcare workers to eat more mindfully, thus allowing them to avoid stress eating and its negative consequences on one’s health.

Learn how to manage your stress
A lot of people don’t know how to manage their stress, even if they are in busy fields like medicine. This can impact healthcare workers’ capacity to help others, which is why professionals must build their resiliency.

The good news is that anyone can learn how to become resilient.  We Are Resilient™ for Healthcare Providers helps pediatricians, family physicians, nurse practitioners, and behavioral health professionals how to support themselves and their patients. The approach provides a simple framework that can raise awareness regarding behavioral patterns and build skills in managing stressful situations at work. Through training, resilience circles and our products, first responders and healthcare workers can process difficult interventions and serve anyone who needs their help.

Build resilience through fitness programs

Workout programs aren’t only a method for losing weight. Healthcare workers will benefit a lot from exercise because it can boost their mental health and increase their resiliency. A study on ‘The Contribution of Physical Exercise to Brain Resilience’ highlights how regular physical activity can slow down cognitive decline and protect against the consequences of stressful life events. Exercise also plays a big role in stress management because it boosts the production of the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters: endorphins. Over time, regular exercise can lower a healthcare worker’s risk for stress-related disorders, such as depression and anxiety.

Before healthcare workers help others, it’s critical that they take care of themselves first. With the help of these four strategies, these professionals can build their resilience and improve their overall health.