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The Ultimate Guide To Self-Care For Nurses

As a nurse, you put so much of what you have into caring for others that you may find yourself asking: What about me?

And you should be asking this! As a nurse, you hold the responsibility to preserve health and promote wellness — and this includes you!

Self-care is all about taking (you guessed it) care of yourself, so the exact process will look different from person to person.

That being said, self-care activities should directly and positively impact at least one area of the self, whether it is your mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, social, personal, or professional wellbeing.

This may seem like a lot, but the process doesn’t have to be rushed and, as seen below, from spoiling yourself by wearing cute scrubs that make you smile when you wear them to planning a date night with your partner that you look forward to all week, it’s a process that should be enjoyable!

The Ultimate Guide To Self-Care For Nurses

Mental Health

Your mental health is the foundation for your whole body’s health — so you want to make it strong.

Taking the time to assess your mental state, and actively improve it, doesn’t have to be hard and will reinforce this foundation, so consider:

  • Listening to a podcast by personalities you enjoy, an audiobook on a topic that interests you, the sounds of nature or even really listening to and appreciating the silence.
  • Reading a nursing journal or magazine, a health and wellness article (nice work! You’re already doing this one!), an old favorite book or a new intriguing one.
  • Writing and maintaining a journal, a blog, a website or even writing letters to faraway friends and family or pen pals.

Physical Health

Going to work can feel like more of a workout than going to the gym ever could — but it’s not always the right type of strain on your body, and it’s not the only step.

To help your body perform better, try:

  • Eating everything your body needs by planning your meals in advance for a week and making meals ahead of time on your days off to ensure your nutrition doesn’t get neglected.
  • Resting by taking a nap when you get home, going to bed early when you can or allowing yourself to lie around on your days off.
  • Equipping Yourself with foot support strong enough to hustle on hard floors for long hours, underscrub wear meant to keep your temperature regulated and scrub sizes and materials that work to keep you comfortable and protected. 

Emotional Health

It’s easy to forget that we have a lot of control over our emotions.

Actively shifting away from negative thought patterns can simply mean nurturing your feelings and expressing your emotions, and it’s an important step in self-care.

Consider:

  • Identifying how you’re feeling,why you feel the way that you do, how you could change or maintain the way that you feel or even just how the feeling really … FEELS.
  • Creating the emotion or environment that you desire through a playlist of music, a specific scent or a special treat.
  • Complimenting yourself and others often and practicing gratitude while looking in the mirror, when you do something good, when you learn something new or when somebody offers you support.
The Ultimate Guide To Self-Care For Nurses

Spiritual Health

For some, spirituality may be embraced by connecting with their religious faith.

For others, it may be embraced in the form of meaningful activism — no matter what, though, improving your spiritual health means encouraging internal peace and outward connection.

Try:

  • Decluttering your home, your computer and cellphone files, your car and even your space at work if you have one.
  • Acting out of Passion by encouraging, supporting or advocating for a cause or initiative that matters to you, even if you don’t know why.
  • Practicing Mindfulness by taking a moment to sit and prepare for the day, a moment to sit and reflect on it, meditating or allowing yourself to really evaluate your feelings about things.

Social Heath

Humans are inherently social creatures, but we are also creatures with limited energy and generally busy schedules.

Make sure to schedule in social time to ensure it happens, and make sure you’re doing it to nurture the relationships that are worth your time and energy.

You want to make or schedule the time for meaningful social experiences like:

  • Sharing knowledge that’s been gained, experiences that have been had or aspirations that are being pursued.
  • Embracing stimulating strangers and intriguing interactions, which can be as simple as a short conversation with a cafe worker that you see every morning or taking a moment to check out the performer that you pass on the street sometimes.
  • Planning a date night with your significant other, a day trip with your kids, a shopping spree with your friends or a family weekend at home.

Personal Health

Self-care focused on your personal health and wellbeing is the most well-known form and, possibly, also the most fun!

Personal self-care can be as simple as:

  • Pampering yourself with an extra-special bath where you use a scented bath bomb, massage a healing mask into your hair or embrace essential oils in one of many ways.
  • Dreaming about the things that you want to embrace, whether it’s your weekend, an outfit or the color that you want to paint your house.
  • Doing what you like to do, whether it benefits anyone else or not. Makeup, gardening, knitting, driving, hiking and anything else that you like to do are all valid options!

Professional Health

From comfort in your professional development to confidence in your professional image, your patients and colleagues want to see you thrive when it comes to your professional health for multiple reasons.

Make sure it happens by:

  • Shopping for a new and improved set of scrubs, footwear, accessories, supplies and even a bag to carry it all.
  • Establishing aspirations, goals, ambitions, concerns, fears and boundaries with your colleagues.
  • Paying Forward the time, effort and resources that have been put into you wherever and whenever you see the opportunity by offering help, support, insight or anything else that you’re capable of.
The Ultimate Guide To Self-Care For Nurses

Remember That Self-Care Isn’t Selfish

When it comes to self-care, the key is to ditch the guilt!

Everybody needs it, but it's important especially as a nurse to remember that you can't care for others if you don’t care for yourself.

From errors in your job performance to detrimental effects to your health that can leave you unable to perform at all, neglecting your self-care will have significant professional and personal effects, and taking care of yourself is as much for you as it is for your patients!

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