Five ways for nurses to take better care of themselves

May 9, 2016

Self care for nurses is important too

Given the rigours of the job, self care for nurses is crucial and yet, it is the one thing most nurses tend to neglect. To keep up with their many personal and professional commitments, many nurses skip meals or they simply pick up the most convenient foods to eat, which often also happens to be junk food with empty calories. Some nurses try and make do with fewer hours of sleep just so they can get caught up on their chores. In the long run, these bad decisions will have a negative impact on anyone’s health.

This also gives rise to an important question – how do you care for other people if you are running on empty yourself? To be a better nurse, you have to take better care of yourself.

Here are five ways you can do this.

1. Eat healthy foods

After a hectic day dealing with sick and injured patients, it’s only natural to want to reach out for some comfort foods. Burgers and fries with an icy cold milkshake sound so good. Unfortunately, they are also bad for your health. While it is okay to indulge once in a while, it is important to cut back on junk foods and increase the amount of fruits, vegetables and healthy protein. It will keep you healthier in the long run.

2. Remember to drink water regularly through the day

It’s easy to forget all about water while you are juggling multiple patients but a lack of water can leave you dehydrated and prematurely fatigued. Drinking water regularly oxygenates your cells, maintains electrolyte equilibrium and flushes away toxins from the body. All of this helps your muscles to function better, boosts your energy levels and makes you feel better all over.

3. Splurge on your footwear

Wearing a comfortable pair of shoes is non-negotiable for nurses. You will be spending several hours on your feet every day and you need a good pair of shoes to support you. Keep the fancy footwear for your social outings. For work, choose a sturdy pair of shoes that has great inner supports that are soft and ultra-comfortable. Buy two pairs and rotate them. Foot size and shape tends to change with age, weight and the amount of walking you do. Get feet checked and properly fitted at least once year so you are not wearing shoes that are too small or too tight for you.

4. Exercise

It may seem contradictory. After all, it seems like you get more than enough exercise on the job and more often than not, you are exhausted at the end of your shift. More exercise just does not seem like the solution, but it is. Moving your body with the right exercises helps to energise you and keep you more flexible. Do something you like. If you don’t like going to the gym, take dance classes. Or maybe spend some time swimming. The benefits of exercising outside-of-work are tremendous and definitely not something you should overlook.

5. Make time for fun and loved ones

Nursing can be an emotionally draining job. You are dealing with ill and injured patients all the time. Sometimes you will lose patients too. While it may be difficult to remain unaffected by all of this, it is important to be objective and leave it behind and move on so you can keep caring for other patients. The best way to do this is by spending people who care about you and who will give you the nurturing you need during particularly difficult times. Spending time on a hobby can also be incredibly healing and relaxing. Taking time to do these things can help you feel at peace with yourself so you can go back to work without any emotional or mental baggage.


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Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives, and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.