As healthcare professionals, nurses are at the forefront of patient care and often work long hours in high-pressure environments. They are frequently exposed to emotionally charged situations, such as caring for critically ill patients or supporting families during end-of-life care.
Consequently, it is not surprising that nurses experience high-stress levels and burnout. In fact, research suggests that stress in nursing is on the rise, which can significantly impact the nurse’s physical and mental health.
In a study conducted in the USA, 93% of nurses reported being stressed. Similar studies in China revealed 68.3% of nurses undergo high occupational stress. The figure was 63.47% for Iran, 66.2% for Ethiopia, and so on.
While nurses dedicate themselves to providing care for others, it’s important not to forget about their own well-being. Self-care is an essential aspect of maintaining good health and preventing burnout.
In this article, we will explore some self-care tips that nurses can implement to combat stress and burnout. By prioritizing their own self-care, nurses can improve their overall health and well-being, enhance their resilience and provide better care to their patients.
Let’s get started!
Set Realistic Boundaries Between Work and Personal Life
Quantitative survey data collected as part of the Nurses’ Worklife and Health Study analyzed the work schedules and habits of nurses. The data revealed that many nurses typically work 12 or more hours per day, for many days consecutively, without breaks. A quarter of the nurses worked 50-plus hour workweeks, leaving little time for rest and self-care.
These figures point to the immediate need for nurses to establish boundaries between their work and personal life and prioritize their mental and physical health.
The most important boundary-setting strategy is learning to say no. Nurses may feel pressure to take on extra shifts or work overtime, but they need to recognize their limits and learn to say no when overwhelmed. This will help them avoid taking on more than they can handle and prevent burnout.
Taking regular breaks during the workday, scheduling days off in advance, and making time for hobbies and other activities outside of work are other useful ways to achieve a decent work-life balance.
Seek Out Regular Therapy
Seeking out regular therapy is an important way for nurses to take care of themselves and address any mental health issues they may be experiencing.
Therapy can help nurses manage stress and other mental health concerns that may arise from their work. It also provides them with a safe and confidential space to discuss their thoughts and feelings and learn coping strategies to improve their mental health.
However, seeking therapy can still be stigmatized in some nursing environments. This is where nursing schools can help by encouraging their students to be vocal about the challenges they are facing and to seek out help whenever needed.
Nursing schools that prioritize mental health and wellness can form a strong foundation for students as they enter the nursing profession. Whether it is a regular or an online nursing school, the aim should be to provide the best mental health resources and education to the students, including information on online therapy services and resources for finding therapists who specialize in working with healthcare professionals.
They should also offer peer support groups, mental health check-ins, and other initiatives that promote self-care and reduce the stigma around seeking help for mental health issues.
Cultivate Social Connections
Social support is essential for maintaining good mental health. This can be especially true for those in an emotionally and physically demanding profession like nursing, where they are often exposed to traumatic events, such as illness, injury, and death.
One way for nurses to cultivate social connections is by participating in group activities outside of work. Activities like joining a sports team, book club, or hobby group can help them meet new people and make new friends.
They can also connect with other nurses by joining professional organizations, attending conferences, or participating in online nursing communities. Since nurses spend a significant amount of time at work, having positive relationships with coworkers can improve job satisfaction and prevent burnout.
Goes without saying that spending time with family and friends by going out to dinner, attending a concert, or going on vacation can be of great help in dealing with the demands of work.
Engage in Hobbies and Creative Outlets
Hobbies and creative outlets allow nurses to take a break from their daily routine and focus on something they enjoy. This can help them feel energized and rejuvenated.
Hobbies can range from anything like reading, gardening, cooking, painting, playing music, or participating in sports activities. Nurses should choose hobbies that they enjoy and find meaningful.
Engaging in creative activities like art, music, or writing can also be therapeutic. These activities can help nurses express their emotions and release any pent-up stress or anxiety.
In fact, many hospitals and healthcare facilities have recognized the benefits of art therapy and offered such programs for their employees. Art can help nurses temporarily free themselves from their already identified role and take on a new, refreshing identity.
As per the American Art Therapy Association, it can help nurses voice their deep and neglected thoughts and emotions in a non-threatening way through symbolic expression.
Let us all take a step towards healing the healers by supporting the well-being of our hardworking and dedicated nursing professionals.
By following the tips listed in this article and making them a regular part of their daily routine, nurses can not only improve their own quality of life but also provide better, more compassionate care for their patients.