To effectively care for others during this time, you need to take the steps to care for yourself first. This means paying attention to both your mental and physical health. When you’re able to maintain your well-being, you can do your best at caring for others. 

In its Leading Through Crisis resource compendium, the American Organization for Nursing Leadership in conjunction with the Humanitarian Disaster Institute,  recommends 7 steps to ensure you’re paying attention to your own needs:

  1. Take the necessary steps to protect yourself and loved ones – Make well-informed choices to keep yourself safe, but avoid overexposure to the news that could affect your mental health.
  2. Acknowledge that you need to cope – It’s important to accept the feelings and emotions you have as valid and real.
  3. Be mindful of how you compensate for your lack of control – Pay attention to how you’re coping and work towards acceptance
  4. Stay in the present moment – Remember that the burdens we carry today are just today’s burdens. We don’t need to bring them forward.
  5. Take care of your body – Your body needs healthy meals, exercise, fresh air, and sleep. Do the best you can to fit these in each day.
  6. In moments of acute distress, distract yourself – Find a small, short activity that you can use to momentarily distract your mind.
  7. Stay connected with others and reach out for support – Healthcare workers are great at giving support but remember it’s just as important for you to receive support.

AONL’s Leading Through Crisis is generously supported by an unrestricted educational grant from the Johnson & Johnson Foundation in partnership with the Johnson & Johnson Center for Health Worker Innovation.