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Summer 2020: Resources for Balancing Mental Health & COVID-19

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Summer 2020:  Resources for Balancing Mental Health & COVID-19

   Summertime is here and, after so many stressful months in America, summer getaways are sorely needed. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic persisting in the United States, those getaways, or even just a break from the stress, are in jeopardy of being canceled or rescheduled for a later date.

   NOVA members aren’t the only ones feeling pressure from incredibly demanding and at times difficult jobs. A 2018 survey by the American Psychological Association found that about one-third of U.S. workers state their workload makes it difficult for them to take time off and about a quarter worry they’ll miss important information or opportunities when they take vacation time.

   When the stress reaches the heights seen in recent months, it’s important that NOVA members take time to de-stress. The following may help NOVA members improve their time off during the summer months.

Getting Physically and Mentally Recharged

   The first thing we must realize is that taking some time off, like an extended weekend or a vacation, can significantly improve our physical and mental health.

   According to the American Institute of Stress, 40% of workers feel their job is very or extremely stressful. The stress can cause a person to become more irritable, depressed, and anxious. It can also affect your memory and result in making poorer decisions.

   Taking time off helps to reduce stress by taking you out of environments and activities that produce your stress and anxiety. Another benefit is improved productivity. (Yes, really!) Workers required to take time off report being more productive than workers who spent more time working. People who take time off are less likely to experience burnout and be more creative and productive.

   Research has also shown that vacations can improve sleep. Restless nights and disruptions in sleep are often attributed to stress. A vacation or taking some time off can interrupt bad sleeping habits and get you back on track to more restful sleep.

Vacation Canceled? Try Some Alternatives

   Many people have had to cancel their summer vacation due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but don’t cancel your time away from work just yet. While you may not be able (or comfortable enough) to go on that vacation, there are ways to still have a relaxing time.

   Consider a staycation, which is a vacation that you take at home. Your hometown or local area can have a wide range of interesting and fun experiences (just remember to be safe, wear a mask and continue to socially distance). Write down a list of places you’ve always wanted to visit or revisit in the area and see how many of them that you can cross off the list during your staycation. If areas are still closed due to COVID-19, make a plan to virtually visit them during your time off.

   Some museums like the Louvre, Smithsonian, and National Gallery of Art are offering virtual tours that allow you to explore online exhibits without ever leaving your couch. If you had planned on going to see the Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa at the Louvre, this is a great way to do that without the lines of people. Plus, it’s also a great way to have the kids learn more about the world around them in the safety of your home.

Summer Camp Alternatives

   While some camps are opening, others are only open for part of the summer season, or may not open at all. If you’re left trying to entertain little ones during your time off, the following are some fun substitutions, family style!

  • Make time to get active: Set a time each day to for bike riding or going for a walk or hike.
  • Start cooking: Have the kids step into the kitchen and teach them some of the basics with some age-appropriate roles. You can even take it one step further and try one new recipe each week from cuisines across the world, bringing your canceled vacation back to you.
  • Tap into creativity: Explore YouTube or Pinterest to search for some kid-friendly projects. Or try a science experiment with them using household items like baking soda, food coloring, and vinegar. You can even set up a virtual show-and-tell with their friends to show them what they did during the day.

   While canceling a vacation due to the COVID-19 pandemic is a downer, don’t cancel your time off! You can still benefit from that time away from the stress of work by exploring places near and far, or getting some quality family time in for you and the kids. You’ve been on the frontlines working through a pandemic—you deserve to make some time for yourself.

Tags:  benefits of good mental health  combatting mental health and covid  COVID-19  emotional health  managing seasonal depression  mental health resources  mental health resources for medical professionals  NOVA  professional nursing organization  summer activities 

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Improving Your Mental Health During COVID-19

Posted By Administration, Friday, May 22, 2020

Improving Your Mental Health During COVID-19

                                              "The role of the VA nurse is more important than ever,                                                  making self-care a critical part of getting the job done."

Nurses and NOVA members are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic and risk their lives every day to care for their patients despite the fear of being exposed to the virus, long hours, and risk of inadequate or not enough personal protective equipment. The stress of working and the traumatic situations encountered during the pandemic can make it difficult for NOVA members to stop and think about their self-care.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), a mental health organization that advocates for, educates, supports, and raises awareness of mental illness and those affected by it, 1 in 5 adults in America experience a mental illness and nearly 1 in 25 adults in the nation live with a serious mental illness.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and NOVA has some tips on how to improve your mental health. Below are four tips NOVA members can use to protect their mental health and well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Find Ways to Keep Positive

Sometimes it can be hard to focus on the positives in life. Try and find hopeful stories in your community, support local businesses help families and children in need, or if you are able, donate critical supplies or money.

“My experience has been very positive,” said Yvette Twum-Danso MSN, RN, CCRN-K. “I work the COVID-19 screening and testing areas every other weekend. I have adequate PPE, supplies, effective communication to perform my nursing leadership functions. On the weekend, we have executive leadership support, many times lunch is provided for the employees. The executive leadership verbalized a ‘thank you.’ When the weather changes we have a successful system in place to accommodate the nurses. My overall experience has been second-to-none.”

There are ways to find the positives during the pandemic, sift through the noise and you can find it.

Validate Your Emotions

It’s normal to feel a wide range of emotions during this stressful time, and there’s no right or wrong way to process them. Leaders may be a resource to help alleviate fears and navigate workers’ emotional response.

“I have worked in a leadership role to ensure nurses are safe and have all the PPE they need to do the job,” Catherine Giasson, DNP, MHA, RN, NE-BC said. “A great deal of time is spent calming staff fears and educating nurses on how to manage COVID-19.”

Self-encouragement can be helpful in accepting and processing how you feel: you are doing the best you can, you are human, and your emotions matter.

Let It Out

Expressing thoughts by talking or writing about it can help people who are experiencing anxiety and may even diminish those feelings. Try keeping a journal, talk to family members or trusted friends, or quickly jot down notes throughout the day and throw out the negative thoughts.

Self-Care by Having Fun

Make your time outside work count for self-care by doing activities you enjoy. Whether you enjoy staying active through exercise, a family game night, or watching a movie on Netflix, that dedicated time can help boost your mood.

“I practice self-care by exercising, gardening, and spending quality time with my husband and daughter,” said Twum-Danso. “I attend church virtually. I watch Netflix and play board games with my family. I video chat with my family who reside in different states. I take naps and go to bed in a timely manner.”

For Thelma Roach-Serry, BSN, RN, NE-BC, she carves out some time to reset while also spending time with her family to unwind. “Taking time to laugh with others,” Roach-Serry, said. “Making ‘me’ time to rest, exercise, eat well, mediate, reflect, and read. Doing activities with family to be creative and have fun.”

Kelly D. Skinner, DNP, APRN, NP-C, GNP-BC, CRRN, WCC, CFCN, likes to keep things in full swing while taking some time to destress. “Keeping busy for me is key,” Skinner said. “I like to remain productive, but when I am feeling a little stressed, a hot bath and a good night’s sleep is the perfect panacea.”

Take these tips to help you protect your mental health and well-being and remember NOVA members play a valuable role during the pandemic, remember, you are making a difference.


Do you feel that you are in crisis? Below are some phone numbers and websites to help you out.

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Veterans, Military and Families Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 Press 1


Tags:  combatting mental health and covid  covid and mental health  covid-19 and mental health  improving mental health  maintaining mental health  mental health awareness  mental health in america  mental health resources  tips for improving mental health 

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