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7 Self-Care Tips for Nurses

Nursing is rigorous work involving long hours, intense focus, continual motion and fast thinking. And, the caregiving may not end once nurses arrive home because they also may have partners, spouses or children who need their attention. Nurses deal with sick, injured and terminally ill patients at work as well as laundry, cooking and house cleaning at home. Nurses should not ignore the constant stress and exhaustion they feel. They need to take care of themselves so they can provide safe care to patients and enjoy their time away from work.

What Is Self-Care?

Self-care means doing something that helps you maintain your mental, emotional and physical health. Everyone has a different way of coping and decompressing so the right kind of self-care depends on the individual.

Why Is Self-Care for Nurses Important?

Without practicing self-care, nurses may experience burnout, compassion fatigue or depression. Nurses who do not find ways to restore their energy and mental capacity run the risk of becoming unmotivated and lethargic at work. This can impact their ability to provide proper care to patients, thus increasing the occurrence of avoidable medical errors and poor patient satisfaction.

What Are Some Self-Care Steps Nurses Can Follow?

Nurses need to make room in their day, both at work and at home, to relax and revitalize their body and mind. Here are seven self-care suggestions for nurses:

  1. Pause during the day.You need to find moments in your workday to get away from patients so you can breathe and disconnect for short periods. Maybe you want to listen to a song, fit in a quick walk or meditate. Do whatever helps you unwind. Additionally, you should not put off taking a bathroom or lunch break because relief and nourishment aid you in staying attentive to your patients’ needs.
  2. Set boundaries at work and home.Often, nurses have to work mandatory overtime. But that does not mean you have to always be readily available to work on your scheduled off days. The best way to avoid answering calls, texts and emails is to turn off phones and computers. You have to let go of the guilt and savor your downtime.

    You can also free up time at home by choosing your commitments. Understandably, you may have family obligations that you want to engage in or that require your participation. However, you do not have to say yes to every invitation you receive. Sometimes you want to read a book or watch a movie instead of going to another barbecue.

  3. Exercise.Even though you are moving on the floor, it is not the same as aerobic exercise, which can improve your cardiovascular health, trim your waistline, raise your stamina, boost your mood and increase brain function. Anything that gets your heart pumping is good. Cardio exercise may include:
    • Cycling.
    • Running.
    • Speed walking.
    • Stair climbing.
  4. Get enough sleep.Restorative sleep is essential for a nurse’s overall well-being. The National Sleep Foundation recommends approximately seven to nine hours of sleep for adults ages 26 to 64. Nurses can judge if they are meeting their sleep requirements by evaluating how alert and energetic they are throughout their shift.
  5. Get regular health checkups.Nurses must maintain their own health in order to deliver optimal care to patients. Nurses need a record of their health history just like their patients. Regular examinations can assist nurses with managing conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure, or detect any potential health concerns.
  6. Travel.You can pack up the car, book a flight or sail away. Sometimes all you need is to set out on an adventure or lounge on a beach — leave your worries behind while vacationing.
  7. Find hobbies or activities you enjoy.Everyone has a different way of relaxing. You can choose from a variety of hobbies and activities that may ease your anxiety, lift your spirits and make you happy. Examples of hobbies or activities that can release tension are:
    • Gardening.
    • Hiking.
    • Painting.
    • Knitting or crocheting.
    • Woodworking.
    • Yoga.

Employers and managers need to eliminate any policies in their organizations that cause nurses to neglect themselves. If you work in a healthcare environment that does not support self-care for nurses, you may want to consider seeking a job at another facility. When nurses are at home, they should elicit the help of their loved ones and form a plan to share household responsibilities. Ultimately, nurses have to be their own caregivers and determine the best course of action regarding their self-care and how to find tranquility.

Learn more about La Salle University’s online RN to BSN program.


Health Community Key: 5 Self-Care Tips for Nurses Is Self-Care for Medical Mamas Possible? 6 Tips for Nurse-Moms 5 Simple Self-Care Practices for Busy Nurses. We’re Not Talking a Spa Day

Daily Nurse: Why Self-Care is Important

Everyday Health: What Counts as Aerobic Exercise?

National Sleep Foundation: National Sleep Foundation Recommends New Sleep Times

Nurses Rx: 7 Self-Care Activities for Travel Nurses

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