“We must also use some of these precious hours to rest. I know it’s really hard to do, but we must make sure that we are not all exhausted before the surge of acutely unwell patients arrives.”

--Fiona Dalton, Providence Health Care President & CEO

It can be hard to rest during these stressful times: our minds are racing; we might be telling ourselves the situation will get out of control if we take time to rest; we might simply have so much to do that we feel we can’t take the time to rest.  

How do I physically get more rest? 

Here are some tips from the National Sleep Foundation: 

  • Start a pre-sleep ritual - Regardless of whether your sleep time changes day to day as your shift changes, having a ritual to follow each time you try to sleep signals your body that it’s time to rest. Try reading, calming music or a warm bath or shower – the key is to repeat the same thing regularly before sleep. Avoid looking at any screen before trying to sleep, as they trigger brain activity that keeps you awake. 

  • Be mindful of what you eat and drink (and when) - Avoid nicotine and caffeine for four to six hours before you try to sleep as they take time to wear off. While alcohol might seem like a great way to unwind after a stressful day, it affects the quality of your sleep. Lastly, try to have something in your stomach when you try to sleep, but go light on liquids to prevent the need to go to the loo in the middle of your sleep.

  • Don’t watch the clock - When you are having a tough time sleeping, looking at the clock/your phone will make it even harder. Keep your bedroom clock turned away/or phone face down from you so that you won’t be tempted to watch time tick by. If 20 minutes pass and you still can't fall asleep, get out of bed and do something peaceful until you feel drowsy.

How do I mentally/spiritually get more rest?

Maybe we need to shift what we think of as rest. Rest can be shifting our focus from what’s going on outside of us to what’s going on inside of us. Below are a few simple ways we can rest…and it won’t take you too much time to get real rest.

  • Practice acceptance. You are not a robot – you are human. Thank goodness! That’s what makes you excellent in the health care field. And that means you can’t do everything at once. Practicing acceptance - accepting things as they are; accepting what you can/can’t do - can help you to temper your stress, and give yourself the mental space to rest. Remind yourself that you didn’t expect this pandemic, but you accept that this is our situation.

  • Be intentional. As you’re about to rest, say to yourself, “I am going to rest now.” Ask yourself, “Is my mind at rest?” Take several deep, long, slow breaths. Focusing on your breathing takes you from the external to the internal - connecting you to both your mind and body in this present moment of restful awareness.

  • Take in your surroundings. Spend five minutes sitting somewhere quiet (preferably outside). Notice the sun, wind or rain on your skin; notice colors; notice sounds; notice how the chair or bench feels. Allow yourself to be completely present in the here and now.

This page last updated May 5, 2020 5:36pm PDT