Promoting Wellbeing in You and Your Pharmacy
As Lockdown eases there is a sense of things returning to normal. Yet social distancing is still in place and people now have to wear masks in shops – including pharmacies!
There is still a lot of uncertainty such as will we see the second wave of infections. Therefore, there is still cause for stress and anxiety for colleagues and customers.
So, it’s important that we remain vigilant to the mental pressures we are still carrying. Plus we need to be mindful that the “new normal” may be a too bigger change for some people to easily adjust to.
Here are several ways of promoting wellbeing in yourself and the others around you.
Connecting with others
Some people adjusted to lockdown better than others. One of the biggest strains was the lack of socialising with friends or family.
Working in a pharmacy has at given pharmacy professionals opportunity for socialising that many other people haven’t had. But it’s still important to recognise that your colleagues or customers may be missing friends and family.
Despite the expanding household “bubbles”, being in the same room with other people is still risky, particularly in larger numbers. Remote technology remains the safest way to connect with others. Many of us may well keep up with the weekly video chats.
But we all know the power of nature. So, get outside when socialising with friends and family – it’s a win-win!
Setting a routine or goals
To some folks, lockdown presented an opportunity for learning new things. However, this type of “look what I’ve achieved” social media status update can also create pressure on people to do better.
So whilst setting achievable goals can be helpful to restore a sense of control or competency, keep it simple. How about using social media a bit less or just putting that pile of washing away before it gets any bigger.
Talking about our modest achievements is a great way to set an example of a healthy goal that might influence others around you.
Exercise has been proven time and again to improve our mental wellbeing as well as our physical health. It’s also good for reducing stress. So use exercise as a tool for promoting your overall wellbeing:
— Got a problem that’s causing frustration? Go for a walk and come back to the problem later.
—Had an emotional day? Put on a disco track and dance yourself happy.
— Find it hard to motivate yourself to exercise? Go for a run or a bike ride with a buddy.
And of course, getting back to nature is just what the pharmacist prescribed…
Mindfulness and Relaxation
Exercise and being active is great but sometimes we need to be still too. Mindfulness may be a bit of a buzzword but the practice of being mindful can help take stock of our mental status.
Mindfulness is a type of mental state where your awareness is focused inwards on your own thoughts and feelings. It’s a bit like making your own “safe place” or “happy place” where all emotions and thoughts are valid.
Some people may use music or imagery, such as a favourite song or painting, to help achieve this mindful state. But there are many apps and different techniques to help with your mindful practice.
Mindfulness can also be a brief couple of moments to yourself. For example, try just sitting for a couple of minutes before starting your car or just after you switch the engine off. Mindfulness can be easily incorporated into any day.
Of course, there’s also yoga and mediation that comes from spiritual disciplines that can promote mental wellbeing. Or if that all sounds a bit much, try a relaxing bath or reading a good book (Netflix and Chill is also an acceptable winding-down practice).
Encouraging or giving others “permission” to take five minutes for themselves is an effective way of promoting wellbeing among your colleagues.
No one wants to be seen sitting down when workloads are heavy. So, perhaps talk to the pharmacy manager about setting up a quiet spot where colleagues can sit in peace for just a minute when they need to.
A successful strategy in looking after our wellbeing is setting boundaries. Boundaries are where we limit certain activities that may have a negative impact on us but also to create time for other, more positive things.
Whether you are making social connections, exercising or sitting in that hot bubble bath means you are making time for yourself. Downtime needs to be a priority during stressful times.
The news and social media can be a quagmire of doom or ill-informed opinions that can create anxiety and frustration. So, putting a limit on how much media you view each day can really help prevent feeling overwhelmed or out of control.
But we also need to set realistic boundaries when it comes to working. As locum pharmacists and technicians, it can be easier to pick up extra shifts or overtime compared to our employed colleagues. And in the short term, this may feel like distracting yourself by keeping busy or that you’re solving the demands of a hectic dispensary.
However, no one can keep up a demanding workload for long before they need a break. So be realistic in how much you can do without burning out. It’s important to recognise what you can and cannot do help manage expectations on yourself. You’re a pharmacy professional during a pandemic – you’re already doing enough.
Promoting wellbeing with humour
Finally, there’s the trump card for promoting wellbeing and dealing with adversity – humour.
A man walks into a pharmacy and asks “what gets rid of Coronavirus?”.
The pharmacist replies “ammonia cleaner”,
Man: “Oh, I’m sorry, I thought you worked here”.
If that joke hasn’t promoted your wellbeing through the roof, gained you a promotion and cured you of all your mental woes, you may wish to refer to the NHS website Every Mind Matters for better guidance (but fewer jokes).