Self-care is any deliberate activity that we do to provide for our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. Nurses spend many working hours caring for others so it’s especially important for them to make self-care a priority in their lives. Self-care decreases stress, enhances care quality, and restores a nurse's capacity to deliver compassion and understanding. Many times, it’s not at the top of our to-do lists until it becomes necessary.
During the recent pandemic, proper self-care techniques for nurses are extremely vital. According to one study of nurses, 80% stated the pandemic had a negative impact on their mental health, while 60% claimed it had a negative impact on their physical health. The World Health Organization (WHO) have provided studies that underlined healthcare professionals directly involved in treating patients with Covid-19 are at risk of acute stress disorders, anxiety, depression, and other conditions making health a major concern. Therefore, making sure we pour from a full cup prior to pouring into others is critical.
Nurses are exposed to misery, agony, and trauma, and we are frequently traumatized without realizing it. Self-Care is mandated by the American Nurses Association. According to the fifth provision of the ANA Code of Ethics, nurses' moral regard for all humans "extends to oneself as well: the same obligations that we owe to others we owe to ourselves."
These duties include the responsibility to: •Promote health and safety
•Preserve wholeness of character and integrity
•Continue personal and professional growth
Simply put, we can't effectively and efficiently care for others if we don't care for ourselves.
Self-care is a stress management tool that replenishes a nurse’s empathy and compassion while promoting safety and a higher quality of care. Here are the ABCs nurses can practice prioritizing their mental health and well-being during and beyond the pandemic.
1. Active. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle through exercise reduces brain fog, prevents depression, decreases stress, and lowers blood pressure. Take short walks outside, ride a bike, learn yoga, or even learn a new sport. Remember to make exercising fun and not challenging.
2. Body. Eat healthy. Identify ways to better fuel your body through the food choices.
3. Consistency. Find out what works for you. Set realistic goals to maintain self-care. Most importantly, don’t beat yourself up, tomorrow is a new day.
Nurses are on the front lines of caring for others globally and they will continue to do so even after the epidemic has passed. Nurses must continue to practice self-care as a fundamental practice to sustain their defense against threats to their collective health and well-being. References:
Source: American Nurses Association. (2015). Code of ethics with interpretative statements. Silver Spring, MD: Author. Retrieved from http://www.nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/EthicsStandards/CodeofEthicsforNurses/Code-ofEthics-For-Nurses.html
Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology. 2020 May. (Cited 2021 Jan 27). Available from: http://medrxiv.org/lookup/doi/10.1101/2020.05.04.20089862 .