Caring for Your Own Wellbeing in Telehealth
For nearly a year we have used digital communication platforms for most of our interactions with other human beings because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This means your work meetings and personal connections likely involve a screen of squares filled with smiling faces looking much like the opening of the Brady Bunch. In pre-pandemic times we associated certain activities with a place or time - we commuted to work, went to the gym, had brunch with friends or walked to school. Now, it’s all done on one screen and boundaries have become mucky, transitions quick, and multi-tasking has become the norm.
Our interactions as and with healthcare practitioners occurs via Telehealth too. For some this will be temporary but for many, they may choose to continue to provide Telehealth services. How does one take care of their own wellbeing while working in a Telehealth environment?
It takes some intentionality, but these 6 steps can help!
- Schedule movement breaks for yourself. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to take time away from your desk and move your body. Try some simple stretching, a few jumping jacks, have a dance party, or go outside for a few deep breaths.
- Avoid multitasking while you’re in a Telehealth appointment. Close any tabs or programs on your computer that might distract you like your email or the document you’ve been working on. Consider taking notes by hand instead of opening a word document on another screen and typing as you go.
- Try a mindfulness practice before you connect with technology. For instance, using the 54321 practice you pause and notice 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel by touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and one thing you can taste in your mouth. Remember, even the smallest moment spent creating awareness of how we are impacted by the things around us helps us avoid the tendency to get hyper focused on our screens. This is an excellent habit to employ before scrolling your social media feed too.
- Establish some kind of structure throughout your work day. Try the Activate Vitality Planner to help you make (and keep!) commitments to yourself, be intentional with your actions, and do the things that matter most to you. We find great comfort in our routine - getting dressed, enjoying a coffee, going for a walk, and making meals. Mark the end of your work day in your planner and schedule in time each day to read or create or explore one of your passions. Remember to keep the goals simple and reasonable - no need to feel like you have to crush it 24/7 in the middle of a global crisis.
- Logout and shutdown. When our work is in our home it is easy to lose the distinction between work time and personal time. Multiply this if you’re self-employed. Take intentional breaks and stop working at the end of the work day. It can help to delete addictive apps, turn off notifications, and step away from your devices when you can. As Anne Lamott says, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”
- Differentiate work tech and personal tech time. Avoid scheduling back to back meetings to support you with each of the suggestions above. Perhaps you’d like to kick it “old school” for your connections with friends and family. Using the telephone for these chats and moving to a different space or even chair will help differentiate work time from fun time.
Taking care of your mental health while providing Telehealth services is paramount because others need us and if we aren’t well, we can’t provide. It’s the old put-your-oxygen-mask-on- before-assisting-others idea that we tell all clients. Bringing a sense of awareness and intentionality to how and when we use technology will help.
Carlyn Neek, BA, BScOT
Occupational Theapist and Personal Development Coach
www.balanceworksot.a & www.balanceworks.online