How do we persevere when it feels as though we are not getting anywhere? Written by Clare Jackson, division E psychologist currently working on PICU.

So many healthcare professionals are facing complex and unrelenting challenges at work, such as shortages in resources, frequent changes in policy, exhaustion, isolation and redeployment. This is also alongside managing the needs of our home situation and families, and against the backdrop of uncertainty as to when this marathon might end.

Our emotions are heightened and can feel overwhelming, and although this is normal at times of change and trauma, it can still feel unsettling and anything but normal. There is a sense of healthcare ‘heroes’ digging deep and persevering, but what do we do when it feels an uphill struggle and one with no end date?

It’s important to remind yourself that you are not alone with your feelings. Sharing your frustrations, anxieties and fears can help in processing emotions, and also might help others – it can be cathartic and reassuring to know that it’s not just us. We are not all the same by any means but we are also more alike than different.

Everyone is struggling in their own way, and we all need to take small steps of self-care, yet, when you’re already running on empty, the thought of self-care can feel like yet another task to fit in, or fail at. Apps such as Calm and Headspace can help us pause, or we can use other ways to intentionally still the mind and focus: gardening, cooking, going for a walk or jigsaws can be just as calming.

And finally, sometimes when the end of the marathon feels far off, we need to shorten our focus to the next step… perhaps thinking about a small good thing that happened, doing something nice, being kind to ourselves or connecting with someone.

Charlie Mackesy, The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse, Ebury Press, 2019