Major crises or events such as the COVID-19 pandemic often highlight the significant contributions, sacrifices, and heroic efforts of our health care professionals and of course our emergency service workers, in caring for our community. Frequently during these times, as has been the case recently, the media and public promote health professionals as heroes; and rightly so as the dedication they show and perseverance in the face of substantial challenges and the risks to their own wellbeing they face, in assisting others in the community during such times is admirable and worthy of the label.
But this title of hero comes with an unintended downside, the assumptions of what it means to be a hero. Many of our HPs feel the weight of this title and that they are expected to be superhuman.
Assumptions such as – I must always be strong, never falter. I must keep going. I must put others wellbeing first. This promotes an attitude of seeing distress and struggle as a sign of weakness; of not attending to ones’ physical and mental wellbeing and care; of not being aware of signs of physical and mental decline until they’ve reached breaking point; of not acknowledging when they are struggling to cope or asking for help when the need it.
But heroes are people too. Health professionals have the same vulnerability and human frailty as the next person. It is ok to be stressed, anxious, overwhelmed, sad and so on during crises such as COVID-19. These are normal responses to a significant stressor.
Remember: acknowledging when we are struggling and seeking help takes courage and is a sign of strength.
So to our non-superhuman HP heroes, look after yourself, replenish yourself and your resources, take time out for you and with yours, and speak up when you’re struggling. Superman’s nemesis was kryptonite. Working around the clock, not nurturing yourself and life outside of work is the health professional’s.
If you have taken action to improve your wellbeing and reached out for assistance from your support network, but are still struggling with distress or finding it difficult to cope, speak with your GP or contact our clinic to find out more about our services, (P) 07 3847 8094 (E) firstname.lastname@example.org