Every day I go to work, put on a mask to walk in the building. I change into scrubs, put on a face shield, mask, and get to work. I see and take care of patients every day, some with COVID-19 and some without.
I love my job taking care of patients. I am glad that I get to be there when the patient’s families are not able to. I hold my patient’s hand and try to take care of them the way I want my own loved ones taken care of. It’s more than a job for me, and many other nurses feel the same.
After eight months, I am tired. We are all tired and facing fatigue in so many different ways.
Here are 5 ways to fight PPE fatigue
Create a Wellness Room
Everyone needs an escape sometimes. Your facility or school should have a holistic health department or someone who addresses holistic health for patients. Enquire about making a quiet space or Wellness Room for staff to use while on break. In our room we have:
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Each unit needs to make it their own. Do what works for you and what you’ll actually use. It’s not a tool if it collects dust on the shelf.
Make PPE Fun
Difficult to do when you are tired of wearing it but still possible. Check with your Occupational Health Department or Nurse Manager about decorating your shields.
Treat yourself to an at-home facial. We are all wearing our masks, clogging our pores, and irritating our skin. Wearing a mask is important but so is taking care of your skin. Here is my favorite home facial
Take your Lunch off the Unit
As nurses, we often schedule our patient care and appointments but forget our own lunches. Go for a walk, leave your phone with someone else, and unplug from work. Listen to your favorite podcast or walk outside. Count how many birds nests are in the trees, anything to take your mind off of work
Be aware of your thoughts and where your mind is taking you. Being thoughtful of yourself and others around you makes everyone feel good.
Thoughtfulness Looks Like
Noticing how you listen and speak to others. Choose your words wisely and carefully. Understand your words can impact others in a positive or negative way.
Are you comfortable with Silence? Silence in conversations can give time for reflection. We can think about the responses carefully. Are we trying to understand what others are saying to us or solve their problems?
Focus on the person you are engaging with. Put your phone away, listen to more than the words but what each person is trying to say. Follow up with clarifying questions and follow-up questions.
Here are some thoughtfulness cards to share with coworkers and friends.
COVID-19 has become what we all thought was going to be a sprint, into a marathon that feels like it will never end. In reality, we know at some point there will be an end. Until that time, it’s okay to feel tired and take care of ourselves. Fatigue is the overwhelming and common emotion that nurses are facing today. PPE will be a critical part of getting through this marathon safely and coming out better on the other side. Use these ideas to find a balance in our work life to still find joy in patient care.