Well, this is not how I wanted to introduce this new blog series! I wanted to start this series with a piece on stress reduction and managing academic pressure to succeed. All of a sudden, that is not as vital as it was last week in my mind. What seems most pressing now is the need in the midst of the global pandemic that is COVID-19 to pause and remember we can choose what to focus on and give energy to right now. The idea behind Tough Truth Tuesday was, is, and will be to pause for a minute each week to focus on facing reality, thinking through what is possible, and working from a space of what is rather than what “should” be.
In that spirit, let’s talk about what is and what you can do from a reality-based perspective right now in the coming days and weeks. Yes, there is a very scary thing happening throughout the world. People are getting sick at alarming rates and we are being told to socially distance ourselves and not congregate in groups larger than 10 (at last count) to ensure we are slowing the spread of COVID-19. Not stop, slow. That is the reality, as tough as it might be for many of us who are used to having quick solutions to problems. I include myself in that category with you of being accustomed to wanting solvable problems. I had to remind myself this morning though that I want easy solutions, I don’t need them in order to keep functioning and make healthy, rational, reality-based decisions. Want and need are two very different things, yet we conflate the two.
Social distancing is a step we can all take. Regardless of your current health status, the reality is that you could be a carrier and transmitter of COVID-19 to someone that then has contact with older relatives, or those with compromised immune systems. I cannot think of anywhere that is more relevant than a health sciences campus. If your work is essential, and many of you will fall into that category, you can choose to focus your thoughts and energy on taking every precaution we know to take. Or, you can focus on being an alarmist and letting fear rule your current state of mind. Please know I understand how easy it is to fall into the second camp, especially with an endless news cycle focused on heightening our biological alarm systems. Some stress is a very good thing that can create thoughtful, informed decision making in times of crisis. Too much stress though can create scenarios where we are cavalier with the health and safety of not just ourselves, but those we might be impacting. Tough Truth Tuesday will typically have a closing statement and resource to drive that message home. Today, the message is this:
SELF-CARE is NOT just about you, especially as future health care providers. It is about all the lives you will positively and negatively impact. Adjust your actions accordingly. Sorry, no bars for a drink with friends. No parties either, unless you are conducting them virtually. Remember all that reading you feel like you’re behind on? This would be a fantastic time to get caught up. All the sleep you’ve been missing to study long hours after long days of class and lab? Pretty ideal time for a nap.
Resource from the World Health Organization for Health Workers
If you're feeling like you need a moment each day to regroup and ground yourself, BeWell has you covered. Our team will be offering periodic social media video tips to help you stay healthy and well. Check out The School of Medicine’s social media on Thursday afternoon for our first tip:
- Dr. Jen