The Nurse Narrative
We all have a story about a nurse who has been there for us during a time of great emotional distress at some point in our lives. Not only do they do the dirty work of changing bed pans and cleaning up vomit, they ensure we get the correct medications and set up our aftercare plans as well as providing us comfort by being our confidantes and biggest cheerleaders. They give the personal touch during a time of struggle. Yet in order to take care of us, they need to take care of themselves.
In the world of nursing, it is no secret nurses suffer a great deal from burnout. As a result, nursing retention decreases and patient care declines costing hospitals money and patients the compassionate support they need to heal.
What can nurses do to help ease burnout and increase job satisfaction?
Assessing your current situation and having good self awareness is the place to start. In fact, it is recommended that schools of nursing teach their students about the reality of burnout in the field and help students to identify early on the signs of burnout. In addition, teaching resiliency and self care early on should be a part of every schools curriculum.
In a world that often affords them little time for themselves, how can nurses find the time for self care?
The reality is if nurses don’t make time for self care, they will find themselves exhausted and angry with poor concentration. When nurses reach this point, it’s important to take a moment to refuel. Here are some ideas to help:
- Take breaks. Nurses need to take regular breaks at work and engage in some form of stress management. Deep breathing, quick stretches, positive affirmations and meditation techniques are some of the ways nurses can refocus themselves and give their mind and body a rest.
- Step away from technology. Taking technology breaks are also important as sitting in front of a computer for long periods of time can be very taxing on our brain. Making a point to change up routines so lengthy time in front of the computer doesn’t become a habit.
- Seek support. Seeking out the support of others is another way to engage in self care. Processing with another nurse or supervisor and utilizing your EAP benefits like Nurse Peer Coaching are some ways nurses can find support. Accessing supportive websites like the American Nurses Association (ANA) is another way to connect with nurses and find tips on managing the stressors of nursing.
- Care for physical needs. Nurses must also not forget to take care of some very basic physical needs which are often pushed aside, eating a healthy diet, drinking plenty of fluids, getting enough sleep at night, and yes taking the time to use the restroom. Addressing all aspects of mind, body and spirit are essential to good self care.
A nurse’s dedication to helping others should not come at the cost of self care. After all, if nurses are going to provide the best care to their patients, they need to be at their best themselves.
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