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General Exercise Advice

  • Start gradually and build up
  • Always warm-up – exercise – cool down
  • Aim to start with 5 reps of each exercise and increase by 1-2 reps each day as able
  • Gradually make the exercise harder by adding weights; keep it simple with tins of beans/bottles of water
  • Take sufficient rest breaks between each exercise: 1-2 minutes as required
  • Exercise to a level where you are moderate to fairly short of breath (3-4 Borg)
  • Try to co-ordinate your movements with breathing out on the hardest part
  • Aim for 30 minutes of exercise per day; this can be split up into 5-10 minutes sessions throughout the day

Walking advice

  • Walking is a gentle way to return to physical activity and can help promote a return to regular activities
  • Try to increase the distance you walk and the time you spend walking
  • Start with a few minutes each day and increase gradually by 1-2 minutes

Being short of breath is not dangerous but you should not feel unwell due to exercise. If you have any pain or feel unwell during your exercises – stop immediately. If your symptoms persist, contact your GP.

Useful Links

Covid19-khp-gp-breathlessness-resource
harefield-home-ex-prog-booklet

Introduction

Fatigue is a common symptom of COVID-19 and will continue to impact individuals as they recover from the virus. “Stress-related fatigue” is also considered common as people are faced with the chronic stress of living through a pandemic. Fatigue will be commonly experienced by healthcare workers who are on the frontline due to extended / changes in working hours as well as the additional demands and stressors that staff are experiencing. Healthcare workers who are recovering from COVID-19 and planning to return to work following this illness will be further susceptible to fatigue.

Symptoms of Fatigue / What to look for

We will all respond differently to fatigue and may be well aware of our own signs/ symptoms of fatigue. Some things to look out for might be:

  • Yawning
  • Heavy eyelids
  • Eyes going out of focus
  • Wandering thoughts
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Making small mistakes
  • Slower to respond
  • Irritability
  • Becoming more easily frustrated

Sleep Tips

Sleep is one of the most important factors in combatting problems with fatigue and supporting our immunity. This is especially important when recovering after an illness and trying to support our well-being.

Issues with sleep are very common, but there are several additional factors that may be affecting our sleep at this time. This includes changes to our daily routines, additional worry, isolation, increased work/life stress and excess screen-time checking news and updates in relation to the pandemic.

Some tips to improve your sleep include:

  • Schedule and routine: Set your alarm for the same time. Get up, dressed and ready for the day at your usual time, even if you don’t have any specific plans or a reason to leave the house. Schedule certain tasks and activities for the day. Try to ensure a good balance between work, rest, leisure, meal-times, social communication and exercise.
  • Consistent bedtime: This helps your body to get ready for sleep.
  • Information overload: Minimise watching, reading or listening to news about COVID-19 that causes you to feel anxious or distressed, as this has the potential to disturb your sleep.
  • Wind-down time: This gives your brain and body the cues to prepare for going to sleep. It is very important to schedule this ahead of when you want to go to sleep. It may be necessary to give yourself extra “wind-down time” at the moment. Helpful activities for “wind-down time” include: getting into pyjamas, brushing your teeth, reading, gentle stretching, relaxation/ mindfulness. It is also important to limit screen time, as this can act as a stimulant.
  • Your bed is for sleeping: Limit the time spent in bed not sleeping. Try to avoid using your laptop or watching TV, for example.

Energy Conservation

Energy conservation means using your energy wisely and finding a healthy balance between daily activities and rest. Energy conservation helps with making the most of your energy levels and getting the most amount of work done in the day using little energy.

Why do I need to conserve my energy?

You may find that you are fatiguing more quickly as a result of recovering from the virus. Energy conservation can help you avoid becoming fatigued when completing daily tasks.

The “4 Ps” of energy conservation


Pacing: Go slow, take your time

  • Balance activity/take rests where needed
  • Pick a suitable time of day for more difficult tasks
  • Do not rush!
  • Break down a difficult activity into smaller/shorter tasks
  • Try to complete a task before starting another

Positioning: Do the task ergonomically and efficiently

  • Use good posture
  • Ergonomics: Look at your environment – is there anything that can be moved/positioned to make things easier.
  • Avoid staying in one position
  • If possible, sit while working

Prioritising: do the tasks you really want to do first

  • Make a list
  • Decide on what activities are most important to complete in a day
  • What tasks HAVE to be done
  • What is the most important/meaningful to you?
  • Delegate if appropriate

Planning:

  • Organise and schedule as much as you can
  • Plan a proper rest period
  • Spread out errands throughout the week
  • Pre-plan your daily activities: Know what is happening in a day so you know how much energy you will need.

Useful Links

Post-viral fatigue COVID19 YFC2020 4 pg

If you have a poor appetite while recovering from COVID-19, try these tips

  • Eat ‘little and often’ – try small snacks between meals e.g. houmous/ cheese/avocado/ cheese on crackers or full-fat Greek yogurt & granola. Try a few mouthfuls even if you are not hungry.
  • Choose full-fat versions of milk and yogurts and soups while avoiding low fat/diet versions such as skimmed or semi-skimmed milk, low-fat yoghurt or watery soups.
  • Try not to have drinks just before meals to avoid feeling too full to eat.
  • Include protein sources e.g. meat/ fish/ eggs/ cheese or legumes with your meals.
  • Include a source of carbohydrates at each meal. e.g. potato, bread, rice pasta. Try adding butter to the bread and potato and olive oil to the pasta.
  • Eat foods that you enjoy- don’t worry about healthy eating while your appetite is reduced.
  • Eat your biggest meal when your appetite is best. This may be at breakfast time rather than at the evening meal.
  • Contact your GP or dietitian if you feel you can’t manage any of these ideas and are losing weight

Self-Care is vital to us all at times like these

 

Look after your own physical and mental health and you will be able to help others when needed! Try some of the following to engage in better self-care in the days ahead:

  • Drink more water- hydration is key!
  • What you drink matters- avoid alcohol and follow the guidelines if you do
  • Eat well- Plan meals, cook at home if you can
  • Exercise whenever you can- the benefits are endless!
  • Take some time out for yourself- meditate, practice mindfulness, spend a few minutes in a quiet space when you can…
  • Read a book or magazine
  • Write down the positives- what are you grateful for today?
  • Call a friend or family member you haven’t spoken to lately
  • Get outside and get some fresh air and sunshine at every opportunity!
  • Take a break from social media and your phone
  • Sleep- this is vital for healthy bodies and healthy minds

Social Media Distancing: Make it part of your self-care routine

Social Media has many benefits. It can bring joy and entertainment at the touch of a button.

However, we have seen in recent days that too much time spent on Social Media Networks and untrustworthy media sites can also breed anxiety and stress in all of us.

  • Over the coming days perhaps consider ways to reduce the amount of time you spend scrolling your social media networks.
  • Take regular breaks from searching the news and please only accept news and updates in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic through trusted news sources.
  • This includes our National Media sources and the HSE website (www.hse.ie)

If you find yourself checking your phone repeatedly throughout the day. Try the following simple exercise to decide if it’s important to do so or not:

 

Social Media Detox: Ways to limit unhelpful interaction online

  • Put your phone away during the day- put it in your locker at work and only check it at lunchtime and at the end of the day.
  • Leave your phone outside your bedroom at night or power it off when you want to go to sleep
  • Designate a day during the week when you take a complete break from social media- delete the apps that you spend the most time on. They are simple to reinstall.
  • Consider using the alarm on your phone to alert you when you’ve spent more than 20 minutes online or on social media.
  • Replace the time you spend scrolling with another activity- go for that walk or run, read a book or magazine, call a friend and catch up, do the DIY job that’s been waiting for weeks!

Useful Links

Normal Life Has Been Disrupted

HSE -1850 24 1850

Helpline if you or someone you know may have symptoms of coronavirus

Alone – 0818 222 024

Open 8 am-8 pm for older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to coronavirus

Senior Line – 1800 804 591

Freephone service, open every day 10 am-10 pm, which now supports older people with concerns about coronavirus

Samaritans – 116123

If you are worried about finding it difficult to cope this helpline is free and open day and night.

Pieta House -1800247247

Free 24/7 professional helpline for people at risk of suicide and self-harm and those bereaved by suicide.

Women’s Aid -1800341900

24-hour support for women living with abusive partners. If you have concerns about your immediate safety please contact the Gardai on 999 

FLAC – 1890350250

If you have a legal query, the free legal advice centre helpline is open Monday to Friday 9.30 am-1 pm and 2-5 pm

THRESHOLD – 1800454 454

If you are a renter and you’re worried about the security of your tenure during the pandemic this helpline is open Monday -Friday 9 am-9 pm

MABS – 0761072000

Advice for money management and debt issues, open weekdays 9 am-8 pm

Inspire Workplaces/ Employee Assistance Programme – 1800201346

https://inspirewellbeing.ie/workplaces

Free, confidential support sourced by employers. Available 24/7.

Connect a Coach – https://connectacoach.org/

Connect A Coach is a free coaching service for Ireland’s frontline and emergency services staff.

It is not a counselling/therapy service, but a still space for you to ‘exhale’, de-stress, and feel more resourced.