Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare system. They dedicate their lives to providing emotional and physical care to patients. Often, this can lead to the nurses neglecting their own health. This leads to burnout, stress, and fatigue.
Under the American Nurses Association’s Code of Ethics for Nurses, nurses must remember to take care of themselves to reduce stress, maintain their ability to express compassion and sympathy, and enhance the overall quality of care. However, with a full, hectic daily schedule, establishing a self-care routine can be challenging. However, by following these tips, you can get started.
Getting enough sleep
Nurses often sacrifice sleep to meet their workload demands. A good night’s sleep has various benefits, from improving physical health to mental clarity. Sleep deprivation will negatively affect your performance daily and negatively impact your health in the long run. Setting a good sleep schedule at the top of your priority list can reduce stress and help you live healthier lives.
Maintain a healthy work-life balance
Nurses often want to advance their careers. However, a hectic schedule makes it difficult to pursue higher education. After all, balancing classes and shifts is not an easy task.
Fortunately, you can now take online courses to maintain a healthy work-life balance and advance your career. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree, you can pursue a master’s and enhance your nurse practitioner skills. Many prestigious institutions offer online MSN, enabling nurses to achieve career advancement while maintaining busy work schedules.
Take time For Yourself.
A nurse’s job is constantly caring for other people and meeting their needs, but it is impossible without caring for themselves first.
As a nurse, there are always some variations in your shifts. You might have an easy shift depending on the patients and duties needed. However, they will always be accompanied by higher stress levels, especially when dealing with critical patients. Make sure you take bathroom breaks and eat breaks. Your performance will suffer if you feel hungry or distracted. Missed meals and breaking rules exist in some states, and there are penalties because even though your job is important, taking care of yourself is equally important.
Move Your Body
A nurse’s job requires a lot of physical activity, so you’ll probably be on your feet during your shifts. Despite this, you must also engage in physical activity outside of work.
However, it can be difficult to squeeze gym time into your schedule; you can get started by exercising moderately five times a week or doing anything that increases your heart rate and causes you to sweat. You can also try water aerobics or tennis or do simple things like mowing the lawn or walking briskly.
Additionally, perform at least two muscle-strengthening sessions each week to make your muscles work harder than usual. Some examples are, lifting weights, exercising with your body weight, practicing yoga, and gardening.
Still, if you need more motivation to exercise, get started with some simple physical activities. The health benefits will remain even if you add a small daily amount. Take time out on your days off to move your body. Or, include more physical activity in your daily routine, such as walking to the grocery or going for a short jog during your lunch break.
Eat Enough Fruits & Vegetables
Having a healthy diet is one way that nurses can reduce the effects of stress and significantly affect their health, making them more satisfied at work and in life as a whole.
Most nurses, however, need to receive more nutrients and vitamins. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is one of the easiest ways to obtain these nutrients. They’ll lower your disease risk, improve digestion, and control your appetite.
The best way to include fruits and veggies in your diet is by substituting them for what you already eat:
- Replace half of your morning cereal with fruit slices.
- You can swap out two ounces of cheese for lettuce, tomatoes, or cucumbers.
- Trade a vending machine snack for an apple or carrot and two tablespoons of hummus.
Take care of mental health.
Nursing can sometimes be emotionally draining. Assisting patients and family members through difficult diagnoses or facing death can affect even the strongest. Therefore, you must take care of your mental health, as it helps them identify your feelings and manage them effectively.
Practicing gratitude is an effective way to achieve happiness. In studies, gratitude has been shown to increase happiness. By acknowledging good things in your life regularly, you will feel happier and able to appreciate them more. Additionally, being grateful can improve health, strengthen relationships, and help you cope with adversity.
As nursing is a detail-oriented job, the key to remaining focused is through mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness will help you take responsibility for your thoughts and accept them without judgment. Consider including mindfulness as a part of your self-care routine.
Build a relaxing working environment
A relaxed and comfortable workplace can help people perform well. Therefore, your working environment must promote calm and peace. This will help reduce stress and anxiety.
Most nurses are selfless and giving. These are wonderful qualities, but they can also lead to overexertion. When considering working an extra shift or taking on a new responsibility, make sure you can handle it. Be realistic about your abilities and how they will affect your other self-care activities.
Get in touch with colleagues that make you feel good. Try to spend quality time, not just quantity time to make socializing more enjoyable. Engage in conversations that are beneficial to you and those who are important to you.
Make Time for Leisure
Workers can perform better in their jobs by engaging in creative activities in their free time. Their creative problem-solving skills improved, and their willingness to help others increased.
Being active and enjoying yourself are the best ways to improve your health. Your leisure time can help you relax, gain new skills, and enhance your work performance. Spend some time enjoying a hobby or activity other than nursing. Invest a few hours every week or two, relaxing and doing what you enjoy. Activities such as drawing, painting, crafts, composing, playing an instrument, traveling, or playing sports can help you relax and prepare to take on new challenges.
Self-care is an ongoing process. It is important to turn self-care activities into habits and make them a part of everyday life.
At the start, committing to self-care may be difficult for you as a nurse. But following the above tips, you can overcome some common challenges.
Practicing these activities will help you develop compassion and healthy coping skills, allowing you to provide quality care to your patients and a fulfilling career for many years to come.