You can’t care for patients if you can’t care for yourself!
According to the American Holistic Nurses Association self care is: a critical component of holistic nursing. Holistic nurses recognize that they cannot facilitate healing unless they are in the process of healing themselves.
Whether you are a student, a new-grad stressing about the NCLEX, or a seasoned nurse, self-care is vital to you. Without taking care of yourself, burnout will happen much more quickly than if you practice self-care. It will also decrease your stress level and give you more energy in all that you do.
So what can you do to practice self-care?
The greatest thing about self-care is that there is not one set task that determines it. It should be restful, and healing to you.
Possibly the best act of self-care for us giving-natured people is learning how to say no. I recently started an interim job at Target and have had very few days off. My body and mind were exhausted and I kept getting called to work more. I finally put my foot down and when I was called in to work an extra shift I said “I’m sorry, I can’t come in today.” There was no explanation, but I didn’t owe them one. Saying no will give you the time you need for other self-care activities.
The AHNA suggests things like meditation, yoga, journaling, movement or dance, which are great suggestions but aren’t for everyone. Your idea of self-care could be reading a book all day, or watching movies in bed, taking a bath, going to lunch with an old friend. You don’t have to spend your “me” time as a recluse. The time spent away from the workplace should be relaxing and fulfilling.
To help you decide what sorts of things you’d like to do as self-care, take a few minutes to think about things you feel like you never have time for anymore. Is it writing letters to friends? Going on a hike? Going shopping? What “re-charges” your body the most?
One of the most satisfying things for my own self-care is rearranging my furniture in a room or two. This gives my room a whole new look and it feels refreshing. I also enjoy baking, and reading.
The important thing is that you don’t forget to do it. Try to designate one day a week (it doesn’t have to be the same day) to have your “me” day. Devote the whole day, or even just part of the day to it. The goal at the end of it is to ensure you have spent time on yourself and not just everyone around you.
Feel free to post your favorite self-care activities in the comments so our other readers can get ideas!