Healthcare professionals are the frontline warriors in the conquest of a healthier world. Compared to doctors, nurses deal with different types of patients, suffering from different kinds of health issues and diseases, in close quarters on a daily basis for prolonged periods. Not to mention their hectic work hours, emergency situations, and longs strides through the hospital hallways, all of which are physically and emotionally demanding. Hence, it is very important for a nurse to take care of his/her own health and mental state while working at a healthcare center.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care is very important to have the perfect balance between your personal and professional life. It involves doing specific activities that take care of your physical, emotional, and mental well being while being engaged in the nursing profession. The(ANA) Code of Ethics mandates self-care for nurses and states that it is important for nurses to promote a healthy and safe lifestyle not only among their patients but also among themselves.
Why Self-Care is Important For A Nurse?
- Only A Healthy Nurse Can Take Care of Others: As a nurse, your primary responsibility is to ensure the health and well-being of your patients. How can you do that if you are not healthy? A nurse falling sick but working causes health risks to other patients, so it is very important that you take your days off while feeling sick. But obviously, it affects your efficiency and overall work. So the best thing to do is maintain personal health and not fall sick.
- Handling Emergencies: Throughout your nursing career, you might need to handle emergency life-and-death situations where even your smallest decisions might trigger dramatic effects on your patient’s health. In such situations, critical thinking is very essential and you cannot do it unless you’re of a sound mind and body. Self-care techniques can be used as effective stress management tools so that your work becomes safer and of higher quality.
- Enjoying Your Job: People say nursing, apart from being very demanding and tiresome, is a thankless job. But it is one of the noblest professions that exists. For you to give in your 100% to the profession as a nurse, you must learn to enjoy the job. You can replenish your passion for the profession and empathy towards your patients with self-care techniques like proper rest, giving time to yourself, balancing your work and personal life.
Taking Care of Yourself and Others
Self-care, as discussed above, is required to be practiced by the nurse for his/her own personal and professional growth, but also to ensure that the patients get the best care and service. These practices can be categorized into several segments:
- Physical: Your hectic and probably uneven job shifts is a big hurdle when it comes to following an exercise routine. Having healthy homemade food is also not easy in such situations. You can adopt some easy alternatives like taking walks during breaks, reducing the amount of coffee and sugar consumed per day. Most importantly, do not treat any sickness or pain, however silly it might seem, lightly. Assess your situation and consult a medical professional in such cases. Apart from this, always stay hydrated and plan your meals accordingly.
It’s advised to avoid direct contact with the patients if you show mild symptoms of common cold or the flu. Even if you’re feeling healthy, you might be a carrier so it’s safe to wear masks and gloves while in close proximity with the patients.
- Mental: Mental health is very important for a nurse if one needs to give one’s best for the patients. The patients feel secured when they’re in your care if you stay pleasant and happy. For boosting critical thinking and the ability to handle emergencies, you can practice simple mental health boosting exercises like meditation and solving crossword puzzles or reading books during breaks. Apart from this, learn to utilize your off days well by engaging in recreational activities like visiting new places or watching movies.
- Emotional: Emotional well-being is essential to you as a nurse, since your patients expect someone at peace. Along with taking care of your patients, don’t forget about fulfilling your emotional needs. Sharing your experiences with a peer or a close friend helps to reduce stress and pressure. Finding little things to laugh about is a good practice to boost your emotional well-being.
- Social: Due to the nature of your job, it’s very likely to get lost in your busy schedule and be deprived of an active social life. It’s very important to connect with others and enjoy your free time with your closed ones. This helps you to develop a better bonding with your patients and you’ll be able to understand their needs more clearly.
Don’t forget to enjoy weekends or off days with your closed ones, meeting new people and to maintain a good professional relationship with your co-workers.
- Spiritual: Spiritual health is a concept that has multiple layers to it. While for some people, it means connecting with religion, for others it means doing humanitarian works like charity and helping the underserved. Spiritual well-being also involves doing meditation or yoga on a regular basis. It’s always advised to find time to volunteer for any cause that matters to you.
These practices not only aid your personal growth, but also helps you be more empathetic towards your patients. You will be able to understand them on a deeper level. This will impact your nursing services positively
- Professional: Just like any other professional, you will have a successful and happy career as long as you create a positive environment around you in your workplace. Always take care of safety, professional decorum and have a clear prospect of a successful career.
Patients always prefer nurses who are very professional in their approach and who knows their stuff. That’s why it’s very important to be eager to learn new things and ask doubts to your co-workers and superiors. Find time to read new books and blogs, or hear podcasts on nursing to stay updated on the trends in the nursing field.
As a nurse, taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of your patients. Practicing self-care activities enhances your physical, mental, emotional and professional well-being. It’s always better to learn these practices while you’re undergoing your nursing degree. Premium nursing institutions likeoffer training in self-care along with their curriculum. Self-care not only reduces your stress in work but also improves your relationship with your co-workers and patients, making you a better nurse in the process.