As a nurse, your job is to focus on the health and healing of your patients. But in order to give them the best care possible you need to take care of yourself first. You may have heard the phrase “self-care,” but what does it really mean and how can you put it into practice in your nursing career? Here are four easy ways that you can start today to enhance your self-care and ultimately enhance the care you give to your patients.
Take a Break
If at all possible, take a break during your shift and step away from your work area. Go eat lunch outside, take a quick walk or sit quietly and read. Getting away, even for 15 minutes, will help you get centered and relieve stress. Even if you don’t have time for anything more than a five minute restroom break, use that time to take deep breaths and close your eyes.
Eat High-Energy Snacks
When working long shifts, you’ll want to be sure you have plenty of healthy, high-energy snacks that are quick and easy to grab and eat. You simply cannot be a great nurse if you’re hungry or have low-energy. Keep string cheese, almonds or even a protein bar or shake handy for snacking. The protein will help ward off hunger and give you the energy you need to get through the day.
Avoid falling prey to workplace gossip or negativity. If your work environment is negative, it will have a negative impact on your emotional health. Again, use your break time for good self-care (eating a healthy meal, walking, calling a friend) instead of venting with coworkers.
Does your workplace have a gym? Is there a gym near your work or home? Regular exercise is one of the best ways to practice self care. Many healthcare organizations offer wellness and exercise classes. Be sure to actively participate. Exercise will help manage stress, keep you at a healthy weight and help fight depression.
Which positive act of self-care will you do today?