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Following my last blog I was approached by my university to create and deliver a presentation to nurse associate students about emotional resilience with a colleague.
Delivering this virtually provided both a fantastic opportunity and enabled us to demonstrate how emotional resilience can be affected within healthcare and the steps we can take to develop this.
As I approach the end of the academic year, it feels like the right time to reflect on events from the last few months and how this has affected my undergraduate experience and probably many of my peers.
It is hard to do this without considering the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact it has had on every student currently on a healthcare programme – in fact all students both in schools and higher education institutions.
Personally, as a mother of three young children, I have experienced many challenges, affecting my emotional resilience and mental health. Attempting to home school my children while completing back-to-back assignments has increased my stress levels, thus my confidence and self-belief.
This is not to say I have not valued the time I have been able to spend with my children. However, like so many students, I have felt extra pressure leading up to the end of the academic year. This has led me to feel higher levels of anxiety, questioning my own abilities and ruminating on how I will be able to complete and submit assignments on time and achieve the grades I put so much pressure on myself to attain.
With honesty, I have also failed at times to follow the advice I give others and have not necessarily focused on my wellbeing. I am not alone, nor am I in the minority to allow myself some time to care for my own wellbeing.
Current figures from the Public Health England Every Mind Matters website suggest over 80% of people within Britain are concerned about the impact of Covid-19 on their lives, with almost half of those interviewed reporting an increase in anxiety and over 50% reporting an impact on their wellbeing.
Arguably, these figures come as no surprise. From my own perspective I have put pressure on myself to keep life as normal as possible, but I realise now this just is not realistic given the current circumstances. I created unrealistic expectations within my household, initially expecting my children to be as studious as they would at school.
“My own learning has been affected beyond my estimations”
I am not a teacher, so hard as I try, I cannot replicate their learning experience and it has taken time to find a balance we can all work with.
My own learning has been affected beyond my estimations. During the pandemic I have needed to submit three assessments, including one which should have been delivered through a presentation and one as an exam.
Usually, I would use the campus library or the time while my children are at school to focus on further reading, to ensure my assignments are comprehensive.
This means my assignments have been written with the distractions of feeding my children, breaking up the inevitable arguments and subsequently consoling whoever is crying as a result.
While the university have agreed to apply mitigating factors to our assignments, being able to find time without distraction has been almost impossible without having to resort to drastic action, such as working bank night shifts alongside my permanent part time role as a community carer, utilising my breaks to study.
Additionally ‘life’ still moves along. Covid-19 has not stopped all other aspects of my life, and as such my wellbeing has been affected.
My ability to support my family has been reduced by working in the health and social care sector, leaving me feeling powerless to assist for fear of unwittingly passing a deadly virus to a beloved family member with a terminal illness.
I cannot alter the current situation, but over recent weeks I have needed to take a step back and restrict my access to social media, the news and any other area that I feel amplifies how I currently feel. This has helped me to take time to address my own capabilities to cope in what is a unique, unprecedented situation.
As said before; I am not alone. Many of us are struggling at the moment and finding the usual stress associated with the end of the academic year much more pronounced, regardless of whether we have families to support at home.
By acknowledging and supporting each other during these times, we will develop our own resilience, which we can then apply within our practice roles.