The level of stress that nurses have to face on a day-to-day basis is exponentially higher than what is faced by professionals in other fields. According to a study published in the eClinicalMedicine, 60% of all the nurses in the United States are suffering from emotional exhaustion.
Emotional exhaustion is just one of the many factors that lead to burnout—a condition that is marked by extreme apathy and fatigue. Burnout impacts the nurses’ personal as well professional lives.
Many factors induce stress in nurses: long working hours, uncertainty around shifts, maintaining clients’ privacy, making care plans for patients, and a lot of paperwork that goes along with their routine duties.
On top of all those responsibilities, Covid-19 caused nurses additional fear and paranoia around the health risks that come with a healthcare role during a pandemic.
Nurses need to be at their best emotionally as well as mentally to be able to perform at the job. They need to take time off from their busy schedules and incorporate self-care routines into their lives.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care consists of activities done to regain physical, mental, and spiritual health. Although important for everyone, self-care is especially crucial for nurses as their daily routine involves a lot of selfless work.
Let’s now look at some of the reasons why nurses need self-care.
Why Nurses Need Self-Care?
Nurses can revitalize their energy levels through incorporating healthy self-care habits. However, replacing long-standing behaviors and habits is not an overnight process.
Nurses also need to seek professional therapy services for their mental health to alleviate stress and anxiety in their lives. There are evidence-based interventions mental health services designed specifically to help people with stressful lives manage their mental problems.
Consequence of Avoiding Self-Care
Ignoring self-care will cause stress to keep accumulating and lead to detrimental effects on one’s health and quality of life. Accumulated stress can also result in burnout, which affects a great number of nurses already.
How Nurses Can Ensure Self-Care?
There are various ways of caring for yourself. The key areas to consider are: mental, emotional, spiritual, social, physical, personal, professional, and medical.
Here are some activities in each of the categories mentioned above that nurses can do to show love and care for their mind, body, and soul.
1. Mental Self-Care
Mental self-care facilitates stress reduction, improves resilience, and bolsters self-esteem.
Following are activities that cater to one’s mental self-care:
- Using guided imagery techniques for relaxation, stress management, and focus
- Exploring nature or visiting a museum
- Focusing on positive thought patterns
- Reading books and positive content
- Listening to audiobooks or podcasts
- Trying out something that interests you
- Express your emotions freely
- Talking to a therapist
2. Emotional Self-Care
The following will aid in controlling your thoughts, and behaviors, and improving productivity:
- Praise yourself on completing your daily work, targets, and goals
- Compliment others for their achievements
- Practice gratitude
- Create or write something that you enjoy
- Share your thoughts with others
- Watch humorous TV shows
3. Spiritual Self-Care
Activities performed to take care of your spiritual well-being include:
- Meditate and be mindful of your thoughts.
- Do introspective work and stay true to your feelings and thoughts
- Walk a labyrinth to clear your mind
- Chant mantras or a prayer
- Engage in conversations with followers of other faiths
4. Social Self-Care
The following activities help in improving interpersonal communication skills, combating loneliness, and aid in forming long-lasting relationships:
- Join a social work community
- Reach out to your neighbors, co-workers, and friends for quick chats
- Interact with the people providing services at your place of residence or work
- Take a road trip or go out for a dinner with a loved one
- Spend more time with family and kids
5. Physical Self-Care
The following activities will help in improving your mood, energy levels, and general well-being:
- Go out for a walk or ride on a bicycle
- Eat healthy and work out more
- Join a yoga or a dance class
- Schedule a massage session or try herbal tea
- Develop a good sleeping schedule, and take regular naps throughout the day
6. Personal Self-Care
The following are some personal self-care tips :
- Work on a hobby, like sewing, fishing, or playing an instrument
- Buy yourself a new pair of shoes or a dress
- Pamper yourself by getting your hair or nails done
- Limit your house chores and hire help if you need it
- Say ‘yes’ to events that you have time to attend and enjoy
- Make a to-do list to stay organized and avoid any stress
- Reward yourself after a tough day’s work by going out to a party, eating your favorite food, or watching a movie
7. Professional Self-Care
The following activities will help nurses in striking a work-life balance:
- Wear a clean and ironed scrub/uniform to look and feel professional
- Put necessary items in your work bag
- Leave for work early to get a few minutes to settle in
- Devise achievable career goals and break them into milestones
- Ask for guidance from the mentors and seniors to further hone your skills
- Help with the patient overload
- Stay well within your financial means
8. Medical Self-Care
You can use the following activities to take medical care seriously:
- Get a regular health screening and a medical checkup
- Choose healthy food and drink options to feel energized and remain fit
- Limit your alcohol and tobacco consumption
- Maintain quality sleep to fuel your day
Stress makes nursing a psychologically and emotionally taxing profession. Nurses need to realize that ignoring self-care will result in burnout. By working on the areas of self-care mentioned above, and the activities that go along with them, nurses can ensure that they’re productive, happy, resilient, and brimming with energy.