Everyone deserves some self-care, but perhaps the one professional group that needs the most self-care is our beloved nurses. Working through those long and stressful days can take its toll, and the often-thankless sweat and tears you put into your work typically only adds to the stress and anxiety of being a nurse.
This is not to say that the nurse community trudges on perpetually unhappy. Quite the opposite! Most nurses tend to love donning medical scrubs and helping people every day, and their great work is generally praised. But even nurses need to unwind with a little me time. Here are seven self-care strategies for nurses.
1. Build in Some Me Time
Self-care is all about me time. Whether you’re working a 9-to-5 or pulling an overnight double shift, you should always make time for yourself every day. Even if it’s just a few minutes, use that time to do something you enjoy. Read your favorite book, take a calming bath or just sit down and relax with your favorite cup of coffee.
2. Eat Healthy
Nurses are often so busy taking care of their patients that they forget to take care of themselves. It’s easy to stop by the cafeteria and grab a microwavable burrito or slice of pizza, and while it’s enough to give you the energy you need to keep going, it might slow you down in the end. Eating healthy options like a high-protein salad or a fresh chicken wrap is a great way to show yourself some self-care. Fuel your body with the nutrients it needs to get through a long day, and you’ll be sure to feel your best.
3. Dress Comfortably and Get Moving
It’s important to be comfortable while you’re working, and that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style. There are plenty of options available for fashionable medical scrubs that are also comfortable to wear. And when you’re on your feet all day, comfort is key. Make sure to find a good pair of women’s nursing footwear or men’s nursing shoes that offer extra support and cushioning.
With a pair of comfortable shoes, the next thing you’ll want to consider is to get moving. Walk the parking lot during your break or climb up and down the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Getting a little extra exercise every day is a great way to reduce stress and improve your overall health.
4. Sleep Well
Nurses often have irregular sleep schedules, and while it’s not always possible to get a full eight hours of sleep, it is important to get as much rest as you can. Studies show that a lack of sleep can lead to a variety of health problems, including obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Additionally, it can have a great effect on your performance as a nurse. When you’re off from work, take advantage of the opportunity to catch up on sleep. And if you find yourself working a night shift, try to take a nap during the day. Getting enough rest is crucial to maintaining your health and well-being.
5. Avoid Stress
Working in a hospital can be stressful, but there are ways to avoid letting the stress get to you. One way is to set realistic goals for yourself. Don’t try to do too much at once, and if you find yourself getting overwhelmed, take a step back and reevaluate your priorities. Additionally, it’s important to take breaks when you can and to find time to relax outside of work. When you’re off from your shifts, make sure to spend time with family and friends or do something you enjoy. Be sure to leave work at work and do your best to avoid bringing your job home with you. Good boundaries and doing things that make you happy will help reduce stress and improve your overall mental health.
6. Make Time for Family and Friends
Nurses are often so busy taking care of their patients that they forget to take care of the people who are important to them. Carve out some quality time to stay in touch with your family and friends, even if it’s just a quick phone call or text message. When you do have free time, make plans to get together for a meal, go to a movie or just catch up on each other’s lives. It’s sometimes easier to opt out of an invitation rather than commit, but force yourself to get out and spend some quality social time with loved ones. Spending time with the people you care about is a great way to reduce stress and improve your mental health.
7. Do Something That Brings You Joy
In addition to making time for your family and friends, it’s important to find time for yourself. Doing things that make you happy can help improve your mental health and well-being. Whether it’s taking a yoga class, going for a walk in the park, reading a good book or taking a trip to the beach, find something that brings a smile to your face and make time for it. It’s important to do things that make you happy, and that help you relax.
When it comes to self-care strategies for nurses, it is ultimately up to you to decide what works for you. You may find that exercise is the thing that helps burn away that stress. Or cooking a nice meal with close friends may be the best way to unwind and practice self-care. When it comes down to it, the most important thing is to be mindful of your own mental and physical health. Listen to your body and mind, and do what you need to do to take care of yourself between suiting up in those scrubs. With a little effort, you can find the perfect self-care routine that works for you.