Self-Care Strategies For Nurses
“Take care of your health,” our line always goes. We always advocate for health, we promote strategies to prevent diseases. We always tell our patients to take care of themselves and teach them how best to do it, but do we also do that to ourselves? We are experts on advising our patients about how best to care for their health, but do we take our own advice? Do we also look out for our health?
American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA) stressed that self-care is critical to providing care for others. It is essential for the nurse to practice self-care for them to be of service to others especially since we are very prone to burnout and compassion fatigue. Below are some self-care strategies for healthcare warriors like us, nurses:
Lower your stress levels
Okay, this isn’t exactly easy since we work in a stress-filled environment. But even small actions and adjustments can affect stress level. According to Rick Hanson, a neuropsychologis, “no matter how bad it gets, there is always something that can be done to soothe nerves and boost spirits”. Not paying attention to stress can also negatively impact health and wellness since stress can wreak havoc on the body. Four long, slow breaths, a cup of tea, listening to music, a quick walk, dancing, meditating or talking to a friend are all things Hanson calls “soothers”.
Recognize that you have a problem
This is where self-assessment comes in. Look out for signs of burnout. Recognize that you can also experience it. Just because you save lives and are considered as one of the modern-day heroes do not mean that you are invincible. In many cases, others may recognize burnout before you do. It is important to note that a good nurse remains honest with herself and keeps an open mind to helpful critique.
Reach out for help by talking to your coworkers and supervisors. Coping with stress and burnout becomes much easier when you have a support system to back you up. Your employer may even go as far as offer access to professional counseling services.
There are times when the pace of your life may seem overwhelming. Calm down. Slow things down and allow yourself a moment to think and relax. Allow yourself to acknowledge tough times, painful emotions and difficult relationships.
Keep work and home life separate
You know what they always say, never bring your home problems at work, nor should you link work with home. Set boundaries between home and work life. When you go to work, sort personal issues and keep them separate from your professional world. On the other hand, when the day is done, pull a blank screen down over the events of the workday.
There will be times when you feel like you’re running on empty. Through counseling you can rediscover the sense of dedication and compassion that led you into nursing in the first place. It would feel like refueling. For some, it may even be of help to consider moving into a different area of nursing to gain a fresh career perspective.
It may seem impossible, but do make it a point to eat well, get enough sleep, avoid harmful substances and stay physically active. Yes, we may be on our feet always, but still, the rest of our body needs a different kind of workout.
Working in a critical n environment, it is important for us nurses to maintain strong mental and spiritual health (if appropriate). Whether it is meditation, yoga or prayer, set aside a part of the day to find a calming moment that belongs only to you.