Nursing is one of the most selfless and rewarding professions, but compassion fatigue can happen when nurses put too much pressure on themselves to provide for their patients. That’s why taking care of yourself should be just as important – if not more- than caring for others.
Nursing professionals must take proactive steps to protect their mental and physical well-being, not just for a successful career but also for personal satisfaction. Taking care of yourself cannot be understated, so these self-care tips provide essential information and practical advice on developing efficient systems that prioritize wellness.
Read our article on self-care ideas for teachers:
What is self-care as it pertains to nurses?
Taking care of yourself is an absolute must! Self-care has recently become a widely embraced concept, and it’s all about doing the things that make you feel your best.
For example, reading or working out can help build emotional resiliency, while having dinner with friends can give you essential social support.
The American Nurses Association breaks self-care into seven distinct categories for those seeking further guidance on practicing their personal well-being.
Looking for self-care practices to adopt?
1.Meditate anywhere that helps reduce your stress levels: Whether that’s in the parking lot, before or after your nurse shift, scheduling time to take a deep breath before devoting time to your patients is suitable for your emotional health.
2. Take an Epsom salt bath: You’ve been working long hours, your back is probably aching, and so one of the best ways to ensure that you’re not feeling overworked and rundown is to relax in a tub of soothing, warm water for your self-care bath.
3. Pick up a hobby: Finding a new hobby or one you used to do can help you focus on something other than work. Whether gardening, photography, or painting, ensure you find an activity that enables you to unwind and enjoy your time outside the patient care setting.
4. Eat and drink well: You are on your feet all day, so it’s crucial to stock up on nutritious foods and plenty of water to keep you energized. It is easy to forego healthy eating and increasing your water intake when you are working long shifts, but it’s essential to take care of yourself by fueling your body with the proper nutrients that work for your body.
5. Go to bed: Your daily routine after work should prioritize getting enough sleep and rest. There are better ways to get a good night’s sleep than spending long hours in bed with your phone or tablet, so try to avoid screen time for long periods and turn off any gadgets an hour before bedtime.
6. Invest in a massager: One of the achiest parts of your body. There are plenty massagers around for your back, feet. Due to the physical activity required for your field, you might feel the pressure of your responsibilities and long hours at work, but investing in a personal massager can make all the difference.
7. Invest in a maid service: Even if it’s temporarily to help support your mental health during the busiest part of the year, a personal housekeeper can help reduce the stress of keeping your home clean and tidy.
8. Buy yourself some compression socks: As for your physical health, those demanding shifts ensuring the needs of your patients can take a toll on your body, specifically your feet. Investing in compression socks can help improve your circulation and prevent swelling so you live out a healthy lifestyle and feel great at the end of your shift.
9. Go to a shoe store to get fitted: Many healthcare workers are on their feet all day and can experience aches, pain, and fatigue. Investing in some gel insoles for your shoes allows you to take better care of yourself and improve your comfort at work.
10. Turn your phone off after your shift is over: Placing your phone on do not disturb or on silent is a self care idea that deserves to be a part of your daily life. Your personal life does not earn to be interrupted by work when you just worked an 8-12-hour shift.
11. Take bathroom breaks when you need them: It takes a few minutes out of your day to go relieve yourself. Even with your busy schedule with your patients, you deserve to take care of yourself and make time for your body’s basic needs.
12. Always take your lunch break: This isn’t just about adhering to a healthy diet. It’s about making time for mindful meals at work that you are entitled to. Order a delicious meal that will strengthen your immune system and refuel your energy levels.
13. Talk to people you trust about what you may be feeling: You encounter stressful situations on the job nearly every day. Whether as a traveling nurse, working for a nursing agency, or in the traditional role in the hospital, creating your version of support groups with people who love what they do and understand what you’re going through can make a world of difference.
14. Don’t feel forced to take extra shifts: Saying no to those extra shifts will keep the negative emotions pertaining to work at a minimum. If it’s financially feasible, try to manage the shifts you are currently scheduled for before taking on more.
15. Delegate when you need it: While in your nursing career, you’ll encounter difficult nurses to work with, and you’ll also experience compassionate ones. Get to know your resources and what your job offers through them.
Whether that is a nurse practitioner, nurse educator, nurse manager, or nurse consultant, they can help you lighten your load and better manage the care you provide.
16. Leave work at work: In the most difficult situations, nurses deal with life-and-death situations, stressful events, and people who aren’t always at their best. This can take a toll on your mental health and lead to burnout. It is important to take time away from work and focus on the aspects of your personal life that you love.
17. Make friends but avoid bitter or gossipy coworkers: Part of job satisfaction can stem from the relationships you make with your coworkers. However, it is important to be mindful of the people you surround yourself with and avoid those who may have a negative impact on your mental and physical well-being.
18. Attend a weekend nursing conference: As a nurse leader, you should want to continue learning for your professional and personal development. Attending a conference is an excellent way to do so.
Whatever you can find locally, invest in yourself and your career by attending a conference that will help you learn new skills and fill any gaps in your knowledge.
19. Establish a solid physical self-care routine: You owe it to yourself to devote engaging in movement/exercise before or after your shift. Taking care of patients also means taking care of your body so you can continue to provide them with the best care possible.
20. Let the things your patients say, go: One of the common causes of nurse burnout is constant exposure to difficult, upsetting situations. While you can’t let your patients get in the way of providing excellent care, you can establish your own personal barriers to keep in mind.
Your patients are going to test you. They may say things that make you second guess yourself, but it’s important to remember that you have a responsibility to them, and you’re doing an excellent job of taking care of them.