You’re a natural caregiver and a natural provider. It’s one of the main reasons you became a nurse in the first place. But it’s important to be aware that this wonderful quality can have a dark side. Far too often, healthcare professionals put themselves on the back burner as they care for other people, and this only increases as nurses work a lot of extended shifts and overtime hours. And while that might seem noble, the truth is that you can only give your all to patients when you care for yourself, too.
Let’s take a look at some practical ways to care for yourself as a nurse:
Recognize when you need to cope.
You’ve probably told yourself some version of this in the past, perhaps recently: “My circumstances aren’t as dire as a lot of other people’s, so I shouldn’t feel overwhelmed or anxious or tired.” This is textbook denial language. The truth is that your needs are as legitimate as anyone else’s. Give yourself permission to cope with what’s going on around you if you need to. It’s the only way you’ll feel better.
Take care of your body.
Taking care of yourself outside of work is incredibly important. Part of that is physical: exercise regularly, eat healthy, spend time outdoors, get plenty of sleep. And another part is mental: avoid overdoing it with substances, like alcohol. Take time to do things you enjoy. Try to limit screen time, especially before bed.
Stay in the present.
It’s not always easy, but try to remind yourself to stay present and grounded, especially during high-stress times. While anxiety and depression encompass a huge scale, we can think of it simply as this: anxiety involves perpetually orienting your mind to the future, and depression involves perpetually orienting your mind toward the past. Try to stay in the present moment — focus only on what’s in front of you, right now. That’s all you can control.
Spend time with loved ones.
Staying connected with those you care about is absolutely essential for your mental well-being. Becoming detached and distant will do you no good. Make a point of spending time with family, friends, and loved ones. Social support is necessary at all times, but especially during high-stress ones like the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ask for help if you need it.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t know what to do about it, ask for help. Talking to someone (a friend or family member) can help, or talking to a professional counselor might be the route for you.
Is Your Job Stressing You Out?
In some cases, finding a new position with an organization that values you and treats you correctly is the best prescription for a healthy work-life balance. Let Health Advocates Network help. Find your next opportunity by clicking here.