How do you keep it together?

The keeping it together tools are based on the following principles:

Together you can carry more than as individual

As a group you can handle more (emotion, stress, work) than as an individual. In the acute nature of COVID-19, teams that change daily are divided into care. This often includes experienced people who already know each other and the work, people from the same institution who are used to working from another specialism, and former care workers who are often (still) unfamiliar with the institution. It is important to create a minimal group cohesion so that everyone can feel supported. A check-in and check-out are simple and effective for cohesion and greater joint carrying capacity.

Acknowledging raw reality gives air

Recognizing the raw reality, within the group, gives more air than sticking to a “mission impossible”. The reality is that not everyone can be saved. Many health care workers have known this for a long time and at the same time it is often still the – unconscious – message: we will continue until we drop. Recognizing that even if you keep going until you drop you still can’t save everyone is essential. After that, you can decide something else, if only to stay mentally and physically healthy yourself.

Indicate your limits and take care of yourself. The whole of care is more useful if healthcare employees set their limits and take care of themselves. Healthcare providers are usually the first to save on caring for the benefit of patients. However, it seems that (in the slightly longer term) it really benefits the patients. What is good for the whole is that we also take care of ourselves. Set boundaries, stop in time, and look for ways to recharge yourself during and after the shift. Talk to your buddy to help you.

Actively and consciously separate yourself from your service

It is essential to actively and consciously disconnect yourself from your service when it is time to go home. Often we remain unconsciously connected to the work we did. So you go home, but without realizing it, part of you is still connected to your work. As if there is an invisible rope between you and the work. This does not help to relax. The metaphor to cut that rope before you go home can help with this. Stopping the connection actively will help you feel free (er) afterwards to do what’s right for you.

Managers have a specific task

Keeping it together is emphatically a responsibility of every member of a group or team, yet the (in) formal leaders have a specific role in this. If you, as a manager, ensure that everyone can belong, with exactly their own expertise, boundaries and emotions, this contributes to the carrying capacity of the whole.

As a manager you are “just a person”, with your own expertise, boundaries and emotions. Then listen, be explicit and ask for help. Daring to show vulnerability is extremely powerful.

Keeping it together in other languages

The poster and brochure have been made available in the following languages ​​in order to make the Keeping it Together principles accessible to as many healthcare employees as possible:

The website has been built to also contribute to increasing the mental resilience of care providers in other countries.

Keeping it together in other professions

Do you also want to use the concept of Keeping it together in your profession?

We would like to think about how this is possible, please contact us via

Lyrically, only a small adjustment is necessary. The drawings can also be easily adapted. This ensures that we can make the concept relevant to your profession with a limited budget.

More information

Mental support is usually available through the healthcare institutions themselves. Inquire about this within your institution.

Keeping it together focuses on what you can do as a group, as a team of colleagues, to increase group ability and promote your own mental well-being. In addition to what you can do together at work, as an individual you may also need more information about how to process all your impressions and how to stay mentally and physically fit. A lot of great initiatives have been started that contribute to individual processing, a listening ear, coaching, buddies etcetera. Above all, feel for yourself what it is that you need. It can only zo that an extensive coaching program is not (yet) suitable for you, and that you first have to listen to some listening tips and let off some steam.


Who contributed to Keeping it together

Keeping it together is part of COVID-19 Extra Hands. COVID-19 Extra hands is a co-initiator of, the national platform for linking additional supply and demand of healthcare personnel.

From a mental point of view, in this acute care phase, a lot comes to (former) care workers. A project group was formed to pay attention to this. One of the initiatives that resulted from this is the project “Keeping it together”. The following people participated in the development of the Keeping it Together brochure and poster:

Concept and text: Petra Derks, Jakob van Wielink and Barbara Hoogenboom

Drawings and design: Aletha Steijns

Website: Gerard Kruithof

Advice from practice: Najla van Veen – Mirzakhyl

The cool thing is that these people had never worked together as a team before and that all this was accomplished in a very short time and from a good heart and full of enthusiasm, entirely on a voluntary and unpaid basis. Below you can read their own motivation.


Why did you participate?

Petra Derks (owner Petra Derks, coach for people and organizations): “When it became clear that the Netherlands was also affected by COVID-19, as a former nurse, I felt through and through that I had something to do. I signed up for “extra hands at the bedside” and I made myself available to support the project group COVID-19 Extra hands.

I show a smile because my care heart has brought my past and present together. My heart leaps when I look at this unifying initiative. Thankful that I have contributed heart and soul to the realization of Keeping it Together. ”

Barbara Hoogenboom (co-owner of the Bert Hellinger Institute in the Netherlands): “The COVID-19 Extra Hands initiative immediately affected me. And I felt embarrassed, because I was not trained in healthcare and could therefore do nothing about it. The fact that I can do my bit in this other way makes me happy and grateful. Thankful that I can contribute to Keeping it Together from a systemic perspective.

Jakob van Wielink (partner at De School voor Transitie): “Either we die as individuals or we heal as a team: these are the illustrious words of Al Pacino in his moving” Inch by Inch “speech in Any Given Sunday. Staying whole and becoming whole: they are inextricably linked. This requires leadership – especially in the most difficult circumstances. Leadership that enables people to come together and separate. As a friend and father, I feel compelled to contribute to this. ”

Aletha Steijns (Art & Coach owner): “Do what you have to do. With heart and soul. I can convert text into clear image. My heart for care showed so quickly. Naturally.”

Gerard Kruithof (owner Dokwerkers | Crossmedia): Working together to ‘keep it together’, that appealed to me. Just when I was in my Corona vacuum and thought; “There has to be a button,” I was asked to use my expertise for this. I do this wholeheartedly, with the hope of better care for each other below.


All translations were coordinated by Barbara Hoogenboom and all these people contributed to it:

Language Translator
Basque Sergio Arana , Maria Carrascal and Maider Gorostidi
Catalan Noemi Viedma; Joan Oliva
German Marnix Reijmerink
English Helen Hartmann
French Caroline Reijmerink
Galician Noemi Viedma; Joan Oliva; Guillermo Cancelo
Perzian Marije Klein; Mohamad Azad
Polish Anita Sokolowska
Portuguese Mayna Dias
Russian Maya Vasilyeva
Serbian Darko Markovic; Marija Stamenkovic
Singhalese Arjuna Seneviratne; Jennifer Henricus
Spanish Noemi Viedma en Joan Oliva
Tamil Aousten Aloysious; Jennifer Henricus
Traditional Chinese Anita Cheung
Czech Šárka Rambousková; Cristina Muntean
Turkish Sami Bugay


Brochure, poster en website

The production of all means of communication was coordinated by Gerard Kruithof and all these people contributed to it:

Name Businessname
Gerard Kruithof Dokwerkers | Crossmedia
Danny Goyen Studio Incognito
Doriene Koot DoorKootDesign
Stefan Kraaijenhagen Zaza in vorm
Tim Aarnink Tim Aarnink – Grafische vormgeving
Bob van Kordelaar Romijn Design