Causes Week 2021: Journals for healthcare staff to practise self-care

Causes Week, which is into its 10th iteration, runs this year from Dec 21 to 25. It shines a light on various individuals and groups, and shows how they are making a difference through their chosen causes within the community, for children and youth, in sports and arts, among others.

Changi General Hospital senior staff nurse Jaylyn Jolito Montiague with her self-care journal. PHOTOS: COURTESY OF JAYLYN JOLITO MONTIAGUE, AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES SINGAPORE/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - After a gruelling work shift on Oct 8, Ms Jaylyn Jolito Montiague opened her mailbox to find a vibrant blue journal inside. Along with pages to fill with her reflections were several pages of colourful tributes from Singaporeans thanking her for her work as a senior staff nurse at Changi General Hospital (CGH).

"As healthcare workers, we are constantly trying to maintain a good work-life balance and I felt so happy to receive this journal because it gave me a chance to practise mindfulness and reflect on the purpose behind my work," Ms Montiague said.

The 38-year-old, who has worked at CGH for close to 16 years, was one of 13,600 healthcare workers in Singapore who received a copy of the journal, compiled and printed by members of the Autoimmune Diseases Singapore, a support group.

When a Covid-19 cluster broke out in Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) in May this year, the group's founder, Ms Sherry Soon, immediately thought of the toll the outbreak would take on doctors and nurses at the hospital.

Diagnosed with vasculitis, an auto-immune condition, in 2000, Ms Soon, 40, has been a regular outpatient at TTSH since 2019.

"As outpatients who have regularly interacted with healthcare professionals for many years, we were all concerned about the welfare of these doctors and nurses. We asked ourselves how we could make a meaningful contribution, however small, to help them in their daily life," she said.

The group decided to create self-care journals, to remind healthcare workers to pause each day and reflect on their mental health as they served others.

In a call-out for tributes posted online in June, the editing team received more than 200 pieces of art from students, patients and artists.

Counsellor Yvonne Yeow, 47, helped the editing team include self-care prompts addressing the individual's psychological, emotional, social, financial and environmental circumstances.

"Journalling is a soothing and clarifying process. We hope that each session with their journal will calm and inspire them," she said.

The group received funding from the Singapore Kindness Movement and the Our Singapore Fund for the initiative and distributed journals to more than 15 health institutions, including TTSH and the National Centre for Infectious Diseases.

For Ms Montiague, who is single, the journal is a small respite from her work at the surgical orthopaedic ward and tending to patients who have recovered from Covid-19.

"It is only human to occasionally feel stressed but I don't want it to overshadow my life. Like my colleagues, I hope to weather this pandemic one day at a time," she said.

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