What is self-Care?
Self-care is a topic many of us have probably heard in recent years, and with increased discussions surrounding mental health, but do you know what it means? Self-care can encompass many definitions, depending on who you speak with. In simple terms, self-care is the intentional practice of taking care of yourself in a manner that allows you to stay physically and mentally healthy. But don’t worry, NurseHub’s Kelly Shafaie will soon release a course with more information!
Why is self-care so important?
Self-care allows us to better cope with the everyday stress and demands all of us face. It’s important to remember that self-care is not selfish. It grants us the chance to pour into ourselves so that we can be the best version of who we are at school, work, and home. It can provide the necessary peace and rest that allows us to refuel and connect.
Self-care is essential for nurses and nursing students. As you may be aware, both nursing school and working as a nurse can be very stressful. To avoid the risk of burnout and to combat our current nursing shortage, it’s so crucial that both nurses and nursing students learn to incorporate self-care into their lifestyles.
- Increased self-esteem
- Reduced stress
- Increased productivity
- Improved energy
- Increased positive thinking
Who can benefit?
Everybody! In short, everyone can benefit from acts of self-care. With the increased stress, anxiety, and isolation that so many face in the world, it’s vital that each of us spend dedicated time practicing self-care regularly.
It’s no secret that nursing school can be very challenging. Students face the challenges of learning new skills and concepts, time management, and juggling the demands of school, work, and home. This makes the need to learn self-care practices even more important.
The demands and stress can increase once nursing students graduate and become nurses. Nursing can be a very physically, emotionally, and mentally demanding profession. Because nursing can be a very stressful career, both nurses and nursing students must learn effective ways to take care of themselves.
How can I practice self-care?
Now that you understand self-care, let’s discuss how we can practice and benefit from self-care. Self-care is not only the activities we do by ourselves but can also be defined by how we relate to our health practices and the healthcare system. A few examples can include having regular health screenings and checkups, taking medications as prescribed, and seeking mental health services when needed.
Several ways that you can practice include the following:
- Plan Ahead: Make time on your calendar dedicated explicitly to self-care. This will be something to look forward to and allow you to be more intentional with planning self-care activities. The self-care time should be a non-negotiable on your calendar so that you can consistently have a meaningful time to relax. For more information about time management, please make sure to review the following NurseHub course and blog:
- Sleep: Having adequate amounts of sleep consistently is a great way to take care of yourself. Sleep allows our bodies to both physically and mentally recharge, helping maintain our health and wellbeing. Several tips for optimum sleep include limiting naps, avoiding stimulants (coffee, nicotine, alcohol) before bed, and creating a peaceful rest environment. Aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night to feel rested and refreshed!
- Reward yourself: Now comes the fun part, planning your self-care reward! Maybe your reward is an indulgence in a guilty pleasure, such as binge-watching a few episodes of your favorite show, scheduling a massage, catching up on a book you’ve been meaning to read, or indulging in a few pieces of fancy chocolate. The point is to make sure you intentionally treat this time as a much-needed reward for yourself.
- Maintain proper health & wellness: Maintaining a healthy diet full of fresh fruits and veggies. Fresh fruits and veggies provide the nutrients and fuel for long, stressful days. Also, make time to create an exercise routine. Exercise has been proven to release endorphins or “feel good” chemicals. Exercise will make you feel well mentally and physically, and it can also help you look great, which is an added boost to self-esteem & confidence!
If you’re ever feeling down or discouraged about taking some time for yourself, here are a few quotes that can remind you of the fantastic benefits:
- “You must fill up your own cup before you can pour into others”
- “When we care for ourselves as our very own beloved; with naps, healthy food, clean sheets, a lovely cup of tea, we can begin to give in wildly generous ways to the world, from abundance.” – Anne Lamott, author
- “Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”- Elanor Brown, author
- “Self-care is not indulgent; it is self-preservation.”- Audre Lordre, Civil Rights Leader
Self-care is a great way to pour into and nurture yourself. Nursing students and nurses need to combat the daily stressors and demands of the profession. It’s not selfish, but instead a great way to allow yourself to rest so that you can show up better for yourself, your family & friends, and your patients. The frequency and type of self-care are dependent upon your needs. As our lives change and go forward, we may require different forms of self-care. As with anything else, this is a skill that can be learned and mastered over time. Don’t give up; you can do this!
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