How Nurses Can Promote Self-Care & Wellness
Nursing is a demanding profession that requires a significant amount of physical, emotional and mental energy. As frontline healthcare workers, nurses work tirelessly to provide care and support to their patients. However, with never-ending to-do lists and unrelenting demands, they can easily neglect their own self-care needs. That's why nurses need to prioritise their health and well-being. Doing so benefits them and ensures their patients receive the highest quality care.
In this article, we'll explore the importance of self-care for nurses and provide tips and strategies for promoting self-care and wellness in the nursing profession.
Why is self-care important for nurses?
Nursing is a challenging and stressful job that can take a toll on an individual's physical, emotional and mental health. Long shifts, heavy workloads, exposure to illness and trauma and other factors can lead to burnout, compassion fatigue and other negative consequences. It's crucial for nurses to take care of themselves so that they can continue to provide exceptional care to patients.
Research has shown that neglecting self-care can have severe implications for nursing professionals and their ability to work. A recent report found that 42 per cent of nurses are less willing to work than before due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, research by Health Workforce Australia (HWA) shows that, due to an ageing workforce and other factors, there could be a shortage of more than 100,000 nurses by 2025 and over 123,000 by 2030.
Self-care can help nurses perform better at work, improve their quality of life and enhance their ability to provide effective care to patients. By caring for their physical, emotional and mental well-being, they can reduce their risk of burnout, manage stress and preserve their passion for the job. This, in turn, can lead to better patient outcomes and a more sustainable healthcare system.
Self-care activities for nurses
There's no understating the importance of self-care for nursing professionals. It ensures they maintain their physical, emotional, and mental health. Nurses can engage in many self-care activities, and it's vital to find ones that work for each individual. Here are some ideas:
- Physical exercise: Regular exercise has a multitude of benefits for physical and mental health. Nurses can incorporate physical activity into their daily routine by going for a walk during their break, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or joining a fitness class.
- Mindfulness practices: Mindfulness practices, such as meditation or deep breathing, can help nurses manage stress and improve their overall well-being. Nurses can take a few minutes during their shifts to practise mindfulness or incorporate it into their daily routine before or after work.
- Journaling: Writing down thoughts and feelings can be a helpful way for people to process their emotions and experiences while reducing stress. Healthcare professionals can keep a journal to reflect on their workdays, set goals or write down things they are grateful for.
- Hobbies: Engaging in hobbies outside of work can be an excellent way for nurses to relax and unwind. Hobbies such as reading, gardening or painting can help individuals disconnect from work and focus on something they enjoy.
- Social support: Social support is crucial for maintaining mental and emotional health. Nurses can connect with colleagues, friends or family members for help, advice and understanding.
Self-care tips for nurses
Incorporating self-care into daily routines can be challenging for nurses, especially when they work long hours and have a demanding workload. Here are some practical self-care tips for nurses:
- Schedule self-care time: Nurses can set aside dedicated time for self-care activities, such as exercise or meditation, and make it a priority to stick to their self-care routine.
- Set boundaries: Nurses must set boundaries to prevent work from encroaching on their personal time. They can turn off their work phone or email during their time off and communicate their availability to their colleagues.
- Seek professional help: If nurses struggle with stress, anxiety or other mental health concerns, it's vital to seek professional help. They can talk to their healthcare provider or access mental health services to receive the support they need.
- Practise self-compassion: Nurses often have high expectations for themselves and can be critical when they don't meet their own standards. Practising self-compassion involves treating oneself with kindness and understanding rather than judgement and criticism. Nurses can practise self-compassion by acknowledging their strengths and limitations and giving themselves permission to take a break when needed.
Prioritising self-care for nurses: An essential component of healthcare
Self-care is crucial for nurses to maintain their physical, emotional and mental health. Neglecting self-care can lead to burnout, compassion fatigue and other negative consequences, which can impact not only the nurses themselves but also the quality of care they provide to their patients.
By engaging in self-care activities and following practical self-care tips, nurses can improve their overall well-being and enhance their ability to provide adequate care. It's essential for nurses to put their own self-care first and seek resources for further information and support.
In Australia, the healthcare industry is facing significant challenges, including a projected shortfall of nurses. With a sustainable approach to self-care, nurses can preserve their ability to continue providing quality care well into the future.
For more information and support on self-care for nurses, visit our blog or seek guidance from a healthcare professional. Remember, you can't pour from an empty cup. You have permission to look after yourself first. Only then can you provide the best possible care to your patients.