September is Self-Care Awareness Month, a time for everyone to take stock of their mental well-being. As nurses and clinicians, you can spend a large portion of your job caring for others. As a result, sometimes self-care gets left behind.
To help you unwind after a long day of care, here are 17 helpful tips for nurses to offer some solutions for those of us who need some help with self-care!
Time and again, self-care is among the most highly recommended solutions for healthcare professionals dealing with issues like burnout and compassion fatigue.
The more you do today, the more confident you’ll be to do more next week — and the better you’ll feel in the long run! Here are a few examples of self-care tips for nurses and healthcare professionals:
- Start Small
- Breathing Exercises
- Don’t Feel Guilty
- Gratitude Journals
- Get Moving
- Quality Time with Loved Ones
- Productive Hobbies
- Take a Yoga Class
Start by choosing a few that feel comfortable and try to work them into your daily routine. So without further ado, let’s explore each self-care tip for nurses!
Self-Care Tip #1: Don’t Be Afraid to Start Small
If you’re intimidated by the idea of self-care as a nurse or clinician, or if you’re even worried you don’t have the time to do it justice, remember this tip: It’s okay to smart small. If all you have time for today is a five-minute break, don’t be afraid to take that opportunity.
Then, try to schedule the same amount of time tomorrow – and slowly scale it up, so that you’re up to 30 or 45 minutes in two or three months.
Self-Care Tip #2: Practice Breathing Exercises
Okay, but what do you do for those first five minutes? A great self-care tip for nurses and clinicians alike is to begin with some basic breathing exercises.
“Breathing exercises are a good way to relax, reduce tension, and relieve stress,” write the authors of a Healthwise guide to breathing exercises. “Breathing exercises are easy to learn. You can do them whenever you want, and you don’t need any special tools or equipment to do them.”
For an easy how-to guide on some basic breathing exercises for nurses and clinicians, check out the guide, or this shorter take from Daily Nurse.
Self-Care Tip #3: Don’t Feel Guilty
As you begin to take more time for yourself, remember — it’s not only okay that you do so, but important, too! One tip is to understand that self-care isn’t selfish, but a key part of living a healthy, fulfilling life as a nurse. Especially for healthcare workers, it can be tough to take the time you need to function without feeling guilty about it. If so, overcoming that hurdle should be a key goal as you begin your journey.
Self-Care Tip #4: Try Keeping a Gratitude Journal
As a nurse or clinician, keeping a gratitude journal is a simple and popular self-care tip to improve your outlook. Additionally, journaling can help you gain some perspective on the importance of other people in your life. Keeping a gratitude journal “only takes a few minutes a day,” notes PositivePsychology.com, “but it can give you a lasting mood boost that can take you from feeling ‘okay” to feeling ‘great’ on a more regular basis.”
You can learn more at PositivePsychology.com, which offers some journal ideas and templates, or this quick guide to creating a Gratitude Journal from the Greater Good Science Center.
Self-Care Tip #5: Get Moving
If you have the time or ability, working out at least three times a week can do wonders for your mental wellbeing! And if you don’t have time to hit the gym, you can try tracking steps with a fitness app, and then set a goal of 10,000 steps a day.
Even taking a quick walk over your lunch break or after work can do wonders for your wellbeing. Plus, it may even support a healthy heart!
Self-Care Tip #6: Unplug
Especially for those of us who may spend a little more time on Facebook or other online apps and websites than we should, one self care tip for nurses is to take time to “unplug.” It can be helpful to unplug and spend at least 30 minutes a day disconnected. Ideally, this time away from screens includes not just your phone, but TV too. It’s a great opportunity to read a book, meditate, socialize, or lots of other “old school” activities.
Self-Care Tip #7: Spend More Time with Friends & Family
A great way to spend all that time disconnected from screens is with loved ones. Especially now that social life has resumed, taking the opportunity to connect and spend more time with friends and family can do wonders for your wellbeing.
Self-Care Tip #8: Take Up a Productive Hobby
For those who may not have loved ones nearby, finding a new hobby can be a great way to spend time in a way that also supports self-care. This can be physical activity like hiking, biking or surfing. Outdoor activities don’t have to be physically demanding, either (i.e., golfing or bird watching).
Additionally, another self-care tip can include creative activities indoors, such as making as a nurse vision board. Or, if you’ve always wanted to pick up the guitar or learn a new language, it’s time to take the initiative and get started!
Self-Care Tip #9: Take a Yoga Class
There’s a good reason why yoga has become so popular across the country, and among all genders, age groups and geographical locations. Even if you’ve never tried it before, joining a yoga class can be an excellent tip to actively practice self-care as a nurse.
Do something that makes you happy or challenges you on your days off.–Heather Q., Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Self-Care and Yoga Connoisseur
Additionally, it’s a great way to get in some exercise while meeting meeting new people. A simple Google search will quickly show you available yoga classes in your area!
Self-Care Tip #10: Practice Meditation
According to published research, meditation “has a positive impact on nurses’ and nursing students’ stress, anxiety, depression, burnout, sense of well-being and empathy.” Much like yoga, it’s a focused, formal way to de-stress and support self-care. Meditation is even more accessible than yoga, though, and can be done in 10-minute chunks throughout the day.
If you’re new to meditation, there are a number of apps available on your phone; the Nerdy Nurse website also offers a helpful list. You can also check out this video on guided meditation for healthcare workers from the Simms/Mann – UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology.
Self-Care Tip #11: Try Eating Healthier
Another self-care tip for nurses is to eat healthy. Busy nurses and clinicians often eat poorly out of necessity. Who wants to cook after a 12-hour shift, when there’s a fast-food drive-thru on the way home? But remember, it doesn’t take much to plan ahead. For instance, try ordering a healthy meal prep kit for the week!
Alternatively, you can also prepare a meal yourself the night before. This gives you the chance to add greens and other nutritional elements. In addition, you’re also likely to find yourself with more energy, less calories, and less stressed out.
Self-Care Tip #12: Set Milestones
A fundamental step of self-care is recognizing that you’re accomplishing important things every day, and then taking the time to give yourself the credit you deserve. This could be a basic goal like getting through every shift this week with a positive attitude. Or, it could be more ambitious, like getting in three hours of yoga or cooking four healthy meals this week.
Self-Care Tip #13: Take a Night to Treat Yourself
Whatever goal you choose, setting targets and then treating yourself for meeting them can have a huge impact on your positive wellbeing. And you should take that reward seriously! Pamper yourself by treating yourself to your favorite meal or enjoying a hot bubble bath. Or, save up your celebration for a weeklong vacation to a place you’ve always dreamed of visiting.
Self-Care Tip #14: Express Your Emotions
A key part of self-care for nurses and clinicians is learning to express your emotions — and that it’s okay to do so. Everyone has tough days, and it’s important to be able to discuss them with your friends and co-workers.
Remember, it’s better to have little chats to let off steam, as opposed to bottling up your concerns in a healthy way. If you need help here, some basic therapy may be the right place to start.
Self-Care Tip #15: Connect with Co-Workers
In line with expressing your emotions, it’s also helpful to get to know your co-workers. This isn’t always easy — some cultures aren’t very positive, for instance, and it can be hard to get to know folks. Or, for travelers, it can be tough making new relationships everywhere you go. But making the effort in doing so is truly rewarding. It offers not only companionship but also gives you a social network to rely upon.
Self-Care Tip #16: Try Volunteering
Helping out in the community, or even in another country, can be a great way to bring positivity to your life, while connecting with others. And as a healthcare worker, your skills are needed in many places! Rasmussen University has a helpful beginner’s guide to volunteering for nurses. The American Red Cross and Emergency Nurses Association are also great places to begin.
Self-Care Tip #17: Start the Day with an Affirmation
Whether spoken aloud or printed on a page in front of your mirror, having a daily affirmation can be a powerful way to provide yourself with some important positivity on a day-to-day basis.
It could be repeating a long-term goal, or merely saying a kind thing about yourself in the morning. For example, “I can do this” or “I believe in me.” Whatever your mantra of choice, a daily affirmation is a great habit to start to make sure you’re beginning each day in the best possible frame of mind.
Caring For Yourself, and Your Career!
Happy “Self-Caring!” Of course, a great tip to improve your mental wellbeing for nurses and clinicinas alike is to make sure you’re working the right job to begin with. If it’s time to find a new career opportunity, CareerStaff has you covered!
Not only do we offer great gigs from coast to coast, but we’re also known for our team of recruiters, who are friendly, knowledgeable and available to help when you need it. Quick Apply today to explore your opportunities, or search available nursing and healthcare jobs nationwide!
Last Updated on August 2, 2023