What is psychological PPE (personal protective equipment)?

Mental Health

A: We all know that personal protective equipment (like masks) has been important during the COVID-19 pandemic. But psychological PPE is important too!

Psychological PPE includes individual and systems-wide actions that can be taken to protect your mental health, the mental health of those around you and protect against burnout.

As the pandemic rages on and we see surges again, many people are experiencing burnout or emotional distress. Burnout can be occupational (involving your job or work) or non-occupational (like in parenting or caregiving). People who are experiencing burnout feel low energy or exhausted, have negative feelings about one’s job or role, and experience reduced personal efficacy.

Unfortunately, burnout is also super common. People are tired, scared, and just ready for this to be over. Psychological PPE are actions that people can take to build a psychological protective armor and reduce the risk of burnout and emotional distress.

Here are a few ideas from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (http://www.ihi.org/…/psychological-PPE-promote-health…) and others for personal psychological PPE:

🧘‍♀️ Take a day off or have some space between work and home life. It’s ok to take some time to breathe and decompress.

💻 Have a news diet. Avoid going down the rabbit hole of COVID-19 media and social media coverage when you are feeling overwhelmed. Have a trusted resource to avoid misinformation (like, say, Dear Pandemic 😉) and reduce that unnecessary stressor!

☀️ Find opportunities to show gratitude. In positive psychology research, gratitude is consistently associated with increased happiness and decreased burnout. Even little things count and go a long way!

🖼 Reframe negative experiences. Find the positive in that experience and try not to dwell on what was not so good.

🙂 Identify peers who can be a support system. The “buddy system” never goes out of style!

❗ Prioritize. There is only so much time and energy in one day. Pick what matters most and let the little things slide.

❤️ Be kind to yourself. Be aware of when things feel off. It’s ok not to be ok.

🧝‍♂️ Do something that you love. Whether that is going for a run, watching a great TV show, or dressing up as an elf from Lord of the Rings and pretending you are questing to destroy the Ring, taking time for yourself is a must.

➡ Ask for and get help during mental health crises or struggles. Please see Dear Pandemic’s Mental Health Archives and the links and numbers below for resources on this one.

If you are experiencing burnout, there are resources and strategies to help you through it. Check out:

Job Burnout Information

Caregiver burnout information

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (Español: 1-888-628-9454; Hearing Support: 1-800-799-4889) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

Stay safe. Take care of yourself and each other.

With Love,
The Nerdy Girls

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