Recall the last time you prioritized self-care in your everyday life. Chances are it was a very long time ago, or perhaps never.
Most people in this day and age have hectic lives. It is true, even more so for nurses.
Nurses frequently neglect themselves because they are so preoccupied with caring for others. Although compassion, understanding, and caring are good characteristics of a nurse, neglecting your own needs can wear you out. In other words, nurses who don’t put self-care first may suffer from the profession’s demands. Overworked or exhausted nurses are more likely to get sick, have anxiety, or experience depression. Additionally, they are more likely to commit errors at work, endangering patient safety and their jobs.
Thus, nurses must prioritize taking care of themselves to reduce the detrimental effects burnout can have on themselves and the care they provide to their patients. After all, your overall health depends on practicing self-care. By taking care of your emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual needs, you are taking care of yourself.
Fortunately, self-care doesn’t have to be extravagant or pricey. Instead, you can practice the easy techniques listed below to learn the art of self-care:
1. Squeeze in time for professional development
Taking care of yourself involves investing in yourself.
There is a good chance that your demanding schedule is preventing you from advancing your education. But the truth is that putting more effort into your professional development will improve your mental well-being, job satisfaction, and confidence at the workplace. Furthermore, additional education can open doors for nursing leadership job roles.
So have you earned your master’s degree and are now looking to grow further in your profession? In that case, consider enrolling yourself in online post masters DNP programs to expand your knowledge spectrum. Furthermore, since it is an online degree program, you can continue your studies without neglecting your obligations to your family or work.
2. Set boundaries
Remember when you accepted a task from a coworker and said yes? However, you regret performing that work later on since it took much of your time. Your affirmative response might have served as a hindrance to you from scheduling time for self-care. Or perhaps you declined someone but felt terrible about it later.
Anytime you impulsively say yes or no, it will undoubtedly steal your happiness and inner calm. Therefore, you need to make your decisions wisely.
Remember that refusing anything that affects your physical, mental, or emotional well-being doesn’t make you uncooperative or disrespectful.
3. Keep your diet healthy
Have you ever given thought to when and what you eat? These things have a significant impact on your health.
Your body will work at its best, and you’ll be able to perform those long shifts with no trouble if you follow a nutritious diet plan. A better idea is to eat fewer processed foods and a greater variety of natural foods.
A healthy diet will strengthen your digestive system, control your appetite, and lower your risks of diseases.
Moreover, always have some breakfast, especially one that is protein- and carb-rich, to help you avoid a mid-morning slump. You can go for hard-boiled eggs, peanut butter on whole wheat toast, and a scoop of cottage cheese with fruit.
There is no denying that the human body functions more efficiently when they remain hydrated.
Put it this way, more than half of your body weight is made up of water, and you constantly lose water, especially when you move your body. Nurses are typically active during their shifts. The more active you are, the quicker you lose water.
You risk dehydration if you don’t replenish this water. As a result, mild dehydration can alter your mood and impair your thinking ability, reducing your nursing efficacy overall.
Although water is the ideal fluid for hydration, other liquids can also aid in better hydration. For example, you can include juices from fruits and vegetables, herbal teas, and milk in your water intake.
5. Get up and get your body moving
The nursing sector demands a lot of physical and mental exertion from its professionals. Nurses put a lot of effort into giving their patients the best care possible, but doing so occasionally comes at the cost of their health. Physical activity is one of the best ways to prepare your body to face everyday nursing challenges.
In addition, your mood soars when you move your body, improving focus and reducing stress. Of course, you don’t always have to engage in vigorous exercise. Start with easy workouts. For instance, try yoga, stretches, or take a daily ten-minute walk.
A good strategy is to pick a physical activity you enjoy. You’ll be more likely to feel inspired to keep going if you do it this way.
6. Good-quality sleep is a must!
According to a new study, nurses sleep for almost an hour and a half less on workdays than on weekends, which is detrimental to patient care and safety.
Lack of sleep impairs our capacity for concentration and good work management. In addition, without physical rest, our brains don’t get a chance to recover and are less prepared for the next day. Moreover, it will adversely affect your long-term health. Thus, it is recommendable to get 7-8 hours of good-quality sleep each night.
You can improve the quality of your sleep by cutting back on caffeine consumption before bed. While you are at it, make sure to limit your screen time. In addition, a comfortable mattress and pillows in a dark, clean, and peaceful room can also make all the difference.
7. Spend quality time with your loved ones
Human beings require interaction with other people since we are social beings. Thus, a crucial practice of self-care includes connecting with our loved ones.
Simply put, being disconnected might make us feel lonely and increase our risk of experiencing anxiety, sorrow, and other negative emotions. Therefore, it would be best to establish a balance between your personal and professional lives by keeping up with your friends and family.
Spending time with family and friends may boost your happiness and reduce stress, strengthen your feeling of belonging and purpose, improve your self-confidence and self-worth, and help you cope with traumas, such as the stress from your job.
Nurses are the backbone of our healthcare system. Working nurses are acutely aware of how difficult, time-consuming, and stressful the career can be, yet being tremendously rewarding and lucrative. These professionals give patients tremendous emotional and physical support daily, often neglecting their needs.
And while, as a nurse, you must be taking great care of everyone else, it’s important to remember your own needs, too. Note that self-care goes beyond aesthetically pleasing bubble baths, face masks, and spa visits! On the contrary, it’s the simplest things you need to incorporate in your life that you need and enjoy the most.