We’re a few months into 2021 and have seen high adoption rates and efficacy for the COVID-19 vaccines. But as you’re well aware, especially if you’re in healthcare, the battle in this pandemic is far from over. Because of this, we wanted to provide some guidance on self-care for nurses – both outside of work and at work – that we’ve given to our own nurse employees.
These practices have always been important but are now crucial because of the collective stress of the pandemic and its lingering effects. This is the worst global healthcare crisis seen in generations, resulting in the highest burden of mental, physical, and emotional stress on health care workers globally.
Self-Care for Nurses Outside of Work
There are many great articles that discuss how to practice self-care, especially for nurses, so we’ve summarized some of our favorites in this article.
The American Journal of Nursing had a great blog about the ABCDEs of self-care for nurses:
- About: Stay informed about the pandemic but limit the media inputs you take in. Know what you need to know for your job and your family but don’t overindulge.
- Body: This means not only protecting yourself from the virus but investing in your overall health with exercise, sleep, and a healthy diet.
- Connect: Connecting with both others and yourself is important. Keeping in touch with friends and loved ones may seem ordinary, but you need people to gain healthy perspective. Connecting with yourself could mean reading, meditation, and anything that keeps you mentally present.
- Develop: It’s easy to give up on creating or investing in things in a time like this, but learning new skills, practicing hobbies, and indulging in stories of inspiration are great ways for our brains to relieve stress and give us purpose.
- Emotion: Don’t neglect your feelings. Having safe places and people to express how you feel is healthy and keeps you from letting your emotions control you. There are many resources to help with stress and anxiety so don’t battle it alone.
Read personal recommendations from 27 nurses on how they’re practicing self-care.
It’s also helpful to remind ourselves that there are 5 areas of life that require self-care:
Neglecting one or multiple of these can cause issues to all of them.
Staying Present at Work
When stress takes over, it makes it harder to think clearly. That’s when it’s most important to remember our training.
ALWAYS follow the “Six Rights” of drug administration:
- Right Client
- Right Medication
- Right Dose
- Right Time
- Right Route
- Right Documentation
Even if you are confident you have it right, slow down, and take the time to be thorough in your practice and your documentation.
Time management is another issue that can cause stress to a nurse, especially when staffing is tight. If you haven’t taken time to reflect on your time management practices and methods, now is a great time to consider it. If you have a co-worker who seems to be a master at time management, ask him or her for tips on how they manage their time.
When managing your time, do not lose sight of thoroughness. Document your assessments, nursing care, and conversations with patients and physicians accurately. Round on your patients as frequently as you can, even if it’s just to pop your head in the door for a quick check-in (document this too!).
Remember that your main goal is caring for your patients. Regular communication with your patients and providing expectations for when they can expect to see you again will minimize interruptions in your workflow. Ensure your patients know how to call out if they have any change in condition and let them know that the call bell or telephone is within reach.
It’s important to remember that you are not alone, as nurses around the world are caring for the sick and vulnerable — and most are working outside their ideal work conditions.
Continue to be the light for your patients, co-workers, and the healthcare industry as a whole.
“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” – Christopher Reeve
Jenny Altman, MPS, BSN, RN
Director of Nurse Performance