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Importance of Self-Care for Nurses

It’s no secret that nurses work busy schedules and long hours. It’s not just a physically demanding career, but one that takes a significant emotional toll at times. This physical and emotional demand must be on a nurse’s radar, as it can lead to a lack of focus, forgetfulness, and mental mistakes due to exhaustion, all of which may impact the quality of care they provide. A survey completed over the past year by the American Nurses Association found an urgent need to improve “nurses’ health, particularly in the areas of physical activity, nutrition, rest, safety, and quality of life.” Seventy percent of nurses surveyed believed they prioritized their clients’ care over their own, while 77% found themselves at a “significant level of risk” for stress in the workplace. With all this being said, a call for a nurse’s prioritization of self-care is long overdue. This prioritization is imperative to lessen the negative impact that burnout can have on them and the care they give to their clients. Below are some ways nurses can begin putting themselves first and initiating much-needed self-care.


Book a Massage

One of the first things that come to mind for many nurses is how challenging the profession is on their physical body. Long hours on their feet and transferring, bathing, and assisting clients take a toll. Hardworking nurses need some care for their aching bodies. Scheduling a session of deep tissue massage, relaxation massage, Reiki, craniosacral therapy, reflexology, or any other form of bodywork would provide mental relaxation and a way to give tired and overworked muscles some physical relief. 


Get Outdoors

On a beautiful day, the call to be outdoors beckons most people. However, as adults, we rarely take advantage of that call, given there are always so many other tasks that “have to” be accomplished on days not spent at our jobs. For busy nurses who may not get to be outdoors during long shifts, enjoying some sunshine and fresh air is vital. Take a walk, hike, or lay on a blanket and people-watch at the park. 


Get Moving

Exercise is integral to any self-care routine and is no different for nurses. Prioritizing an exercise routine will not only be good for a nurse’s body, but it will also do wonders for their mental health. Whether it’s just a simple walk outside or making time to get to the gym a few times a week, committing to getting some regular exercise is a needed and effective form of self-care.


Take a Nap

While many people shortchange themselves on sleep, nurses tend to be the worst. Getting adequate rest is essential when working a nurse’s long and physically taxing hours. A straightforward form of self-care is turning in at a decent time at night (bonus points for taking a relaxing bubble bath beforehand). If you cannot manage getting to bed early, a short, 15-minute nap on days off can help with mental clarity and overall wellness.


Phone a Friend

Prioritizing times with friends and loved ones may seem obvious, but a crazy work schedule and exhaustion may leave nurses less likely to reach out to friends. However, it has been proven that time spent with a good friend can do wonders for mental health. Call a friend to meet for a quick lunch, or invite them to the spa, and reap the benefits of prioritizing your physical and mental health to refresh you for the days you spend caring for others.

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