Self-Care for Nurses

Nursing is a noble profession, focusing on the care and nurturance from one person to another, helping to increase a person’s quality of life, keep them healthy and give them quality medical care. Many times, nurses are called to provide care that goes beyond medical knowledge, from case management to counselor, and anywhere in between. Much of the job of a nurse can take its toll on the nurse’s own health and well-being, and it is just as important for a nurse to take care of their own needs in addition to the needs of a patient.

Nurses should always be aware that their ability to care for patients is directly related to their ability to care for themselves. Getting enough sleep and participating in activities outside of the nursing environment help recharge a nurse who may be asked to work long hours or sacrifice personal well-being for the sake of their patients’ or employer’s needs. Hospitals or other medical establishments may place high demands on the schedule and duties of a nurse, taking advantage of the innate quality that most nurses possess to help those in need, even to the detriment of the heath of the nurse. Setting up positive care boundaries with an employer, staff and even demanding patients can help a nurse establish good self-care habits.

Being able to burn off stress in the form of physical activity is important to everyone, and nurses can benefit from regular exercise and time outdoors. When these activities are not possible because of work or home schedules, nurses can at least try to feed themselves with healthy foods that help keep their bodies performing at a better pace than if they consume snacks and beverages usually stocked in vending machines or convenience foods that are readily available in hospital cafeterias, local fast restaurants or lunch carts.

A creative outlet can also benefit the performance of a nurse. Writing, painting, singing or drumming may be good ways to positively reduce stress and keep motivation going in the nurse’s career as well as inspire reasons to keep the nurse’s workload at a tolerable level. If hospitals and medical facilities keep the mental well-being of nurses in mind, they are more likely to create a work environment that is productive and energetic. Nurses should encourage their employers to keep their needs in mind, especially since they are directly involved in the success of the hospital or medical facility.

Finally, having a resource available to nurses when they need to talk or verbally process what they encounter while at work can be a tremendous benefit to the entire medical community, as well as the patients. Nurses experience many different things during their careers, and few of those happen without leaving some type of lasting emotional impression. The ability to discuss these events and the feelings surrounding the care of others can be the greatest way a nurse can provide self-care.

The emotional and physical toll of nursing can quickly lead to nursing burnout, which affects not only the nurse’s job satisfaction, but also a nurse’s job performance. By practicing self-care strategies, a nurse is more likely to positively facilitate healing of patients, has better self-confidence and can easily transition from work to home or other obligations and personal pursuits.