As a nurse, you’ve made taking care of other people your career. That doesn’t mean, though, that taking care of yourself should be put on the back burner. Self-care is important for everyone, but it is especially vital for those who work in high-stress jobs – such as nursing. Unfortunately, 68% of nurses say that they put the health of others above their own. While this selfless attitude is wonderful, it becomes impossible to properly care for others when you fail to take care of yourself.
When you work nights or have a hectic schedule, finding time for yourself can be tricky. While you simply may not have time for something like a spa day, there are all sorts of smaller things you can do to care for yourself and improve your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Keep reading to learn a bit more about self-care and to discover some important self-care tips for nurses.
Why Self-Care Is So Important
Before we dive into the many ways in which you can care for yourself, we’d like to take a moment to discuss exactly why self-care is so important in the first place. For starters, it is mandated by the American Nurses Association’s Code of Ethics, which states that nurses should extend the same respect to themselves that they extend to others.
Self-care serves as a vital stress management tool, and it can help replenish your compassion and empathy. It also promotes high-quality care and safety. By caring for yourself and allowing yourself to grow both personally and professionally, you become more able to provide care for others.
It’s clear that the benefits of self-care for nurses are numerous, but you still may be wondering how to find time to take care of yourself in your chaotic schedule. Here are a few ideas.
Start with a Self-Care Assessment
Assess how well you are currently taking care of yourself. Think about what types of activities you engage in outside of work, and determine whether they contribute to your mental or physical health. Consider how well you are meeting your physical needs. Are you getting enough exercise? Maintaining a healthy diet? Getting enough sleep each night?
As part of your assessment, consider any problems that are detracting from your overall wellness. For example, are long hours on your feet causing you pain? If so, you might want to think about investing in some comfortable nursing shoes as a simple act of self-care.
Determine Your Deficits
Chances are, your self-care needs are not being fulfilled. Using your assessment, determine exactly where your deficits lie. Maybe you don’t feel good about yourself because you haven’t been taking steps to keep up with your appearance or because you are still wearing old scrubs that probably should have been disposed of long ago. Maybe you feel burnt out because all you do is work and sleep. Maybe you feel disconnected from your family because you haven’t been maintaining a good balance between work and your family life.
Whatever the case may be, be honest with yourself about where you are lacking in the self-care department. Don’t look at your deficits as failures, though. Instead, look at them as opportunities to improve.
Come Up with a Plan
Now that you know exactly what you are lacking in terms of self-care, you can come up with a plan for fixing the problem. If, for example, you’re feeling emotionally low because you haven’t been keeping up with your appearance, you could schedule an appointment for a haircut or buy some cute new nursing jackets to wear to work. If feeling disconnected from your family is getting you down, now might be a great time to plan a family vacation or enjoy a family movie night at home.
Keep in mind that self-care doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. There are countless ways you can fulfill your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs regardless of how little time you have or how tight your budget may be. For example, something as simple as enjoying a nice hot bubble bath can go a long way toward helping you feel refreshed and cared for.
Also, working toward developing yourself personally and professionally is an excellent form of self-care. If you aspire to further your education, enroll in some classes. If you would like to learn a new craft, spend some time browsing YouTube for instructional videos or order a book. Self-development is great for your mind and soul, and it is a vital component of self-care that no one should ever overlook.
Put Your Plan into Action
By this point, you should have a solid idea of where your self-care may be lacking and what you can do about it. Now you need to put that plan into action. Make taking care of yourself just as much of a priority as caring for others. After all, you are just as important as everyone else!
Spend a few minutes each day doing something kind for yourself. Make time in your schedule for bigger things, too, like family outings, dinner with friends, shopping trips, etc. Self-care should be a priority in your life, and now is the time to make it one!
Self-care is important for everyone. For people in stressful jobs – such as nursing – it is especially beneficial. If you are a nurse and you feel like you spend all of your time caring for others, you may need to take a step back and assess whether your own needs are being met.
You can only put yourself on the back burner for so long before you burn out. By making self-care a priority in your life, you are being proactive about becoming the best version of yourself. Self-care is anything but selfish. Get started today!