Nurses are known for spending countless hours a day meeting the needs of others. Unfortunately, in our attempts at improving the overall wellness of our patients and their families, we often fail to make our own health needs our first priority.
As a result, many nurses suffer from anxiety disorder, dehydration, urinary infections, back, joint and foot pain, chronic headaches, and more. Many nurses even develop more serious complications like diabetes, high blood pressure, and others health issues that can be related to high stress levels, poor diet, and the strenuous physical labor involved in caring for others.
In each part of this four part series, we will focus on one way you can find the balance. In this first part, we will discuss the importance of making self-care your first priority. After all, you can’t give what you don’t already have.
Self-care strategies on the job
As nurses, we already know what we should be doing to maintain optimal health—basically, anything we would tell our patients to do. Thus, our problem isn’t our understanding of what to do, but rather how to do it when considering the challenges within the workplace.
Many experienced nurses agree that they need to take care of themselves first before they can adequately care for others. This includes taking breaks, staying hydrated, eating healthy meals and/or snacks throughout the shift.
Nurses also say it’s crucial to communicate your needs to your colleagues and ask for help. By telling your fellow nurses that you need to tend to your own needs, and asking for help, they can step in and cover your patient assignment while your recharge.
In the event that all of your colleagues are too busy with their own assignments to cover yours, use your nursing judgement before leaving your patient assignment. Make sure your inform your patients and at least two team members of your plan: where you are going and how long you expect to be gone.
Self-care strategies after hours
In addition to making sure that you are being kind to yourself on the job, make sure to spend time away from work. Get plenty of regular exercise, drink lots of low sugar fluids, eat a well-balanced whole foods diet, get plenty of sleep, seek spiritual fulfillment, engage in healthy and supportive relationships, and surround yourself with positive activities and people.
The time you have away from work should not not be considered a luxury, but your responsibility. It allows for you to recharge and come back to work rested, healthy and able to effectively work through the stressors of the day. By focusing on yourself first, you will have the agility and energy necessary to endlessly care for those you serve!
Stay tuned for next week where we will discuss tips in finding balance in creating healthy workplace relationships!
This article was featured and edited on Calling All Nurses!