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 7 Effective Self – Care Activities for Nurses Essay

Updated August 8, 2022

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 7 Effective Self – Care Activities for Nurses Essay essay

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As nurses, we know we are walking into a profession that can be very demanding. I find it very interesting that we educate patients on how to take care of themselves we often forget to care for ourselves. “Today, nurses experience increased stress as a result of more work hours and greater patient loads. Research studies demonstrate the value to an organization and to individuals of educating nurses about self-care. Studies also show that how being aware of individual reaction patterns is vital to learning more effective coping mechanisms” (Crane & Ward, 2016). One of the reasons this topic is of great importance is because in order to care for others we must begin with caring for ourselves. We must remember to care for our whole person which would include psychologically, physically, emotionally, and medically.

The first activity that I would like to address is making sure nurses have appropriate nutrition. Having a balanced diet with the right nutrients can impact performance mood and the overall health of the healthcare provider. “Nurses are knowledgeable regarding the importance of health-promoting activities such as healthy eating, physical activity, stress management, sleep hygiene, and maintaining healthy relationships” (Ross et al., 2017). However, this knowledge may not translate into nurses own self-care. Nutrition is important in general health but it also influences mood and energy, choosing an activity that will ensure a balanced nutrition should be a priority for nurses. “In a study conducted in 2009, Zapka et al., found that nurses have high rates of overweight/obesity.

Currently, 60% of the adult population in the United States is overweight/obese; the prevalence of overweight/obesity for nurse’s ranges from 30% to 55% depending on the geographic area, race and ethnicity, and work setting” (Amaya, 2017). This activity, in my opinion, is very important but very challenging. Nurses must make lifestyle changes and accommodate time to engage in physical activities and that is a bigger challenge at times. The best approach is to start with small routines and increase them as the body adjust to the new energy demands. Starting too strong could cause a negative effect and be deterrent to maintain this activity constantly. There are many different choices, like swimming, walking, running, weight-lifting and even dance lessons.

Some may require a monetary investment, and some can be free of cost. “The World Health Organization (WHO) defines physical activity as ‘any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure’. The energy expenditure on physical activity depends on its duration, intensity and frequency, and the interaction of these three factors determines its overall effects on health” (McSharry, & Timmins 2017). “Nurses working in a better practice environment are empowered to practice professionally, become deeply engaged in their job, have a lower level of burnout and intention to leave their current job positions, and have a higher level of job satisfaction and self-reported nursing quality” (Cho & Han, 2018). This activity is directed to the creation of work environment that promotes well-being among nurses which is a goal that should be directed for those that aspire to become unit managers and play an administrative role in the healthcare industry. Promoting a better practice environment can help reduce stress and enhance collaboration among fellow nurses and other healthcare members.

Simple things like appreciation and recognition of a job well done can change the emotional state of the nursing staff on the floor. Maintaining a good communication and an open-door policy where nurses can approach the leadership can close gaps in communication an improve ambiance and encourage growth. One thing we as nurses often do not get is adequate sleep/ rest periods since our minds are always working whether it be for work or home. It is important to remember that “quality sleep is vital to maintain mental and physical health and improve quality of life. Sleep is a critical activity that enhances brain function (ie, learning, problem solving, decision making, creativity), emotional well-being, physical health, the ability for the body to heal and repair itself (ie, immunity), muscle and cell growth and development, and hormone regulation” (Fencl & Grant, 2017).

How many times do we skip sleeping a good number of hours? So many times! This is a particularly personal topic, during nursing school we all have been on a position where we feel like we do not have enough hours in the day to finish all the assignments, study for exams, attend clinicals, and receive adequate sleep. Something has to give, and it is often sacrificing your hours of sleep. This bad habit can follow us to our professional life. Nurses need to sleep, simple as that, we need to give our brain a chance to have adequate time to recharge and to recover. Another important activity is to find work-life balance, just as we need to sleep and eat right and have a good work environment having fun and enjoy things outside nursing and work. “The ability to detach successfully from work affects short- and long-term well-being.

Examples of detaching include not bringing work home or not reading or answering work e-mails while at home” (Fencl & Grant, 2017). This is something many people do in many different types of work, not only nursing. Detaching from work goes along the lines to be able to be present when you are having dinner with the family or enjoying a play or an outing. It is not about not caring for responsibilities but to have periods of time that work emails or calls are off limits, of course, unless you are on call. “Spending a few minutes without thinking about work and resting will help alleviate the nausea. However, at other times, self-care knowledge might not be as obvious to the person” (Koren, 2017).

Another way to practice self-care would be to practice mindfulness along with its numerous techniques. Mindfulness as a self-care action helps to reduce stress and increase the acuity of the situation. It is “based on the central concept of mindfulness, defined as being fully present to one’s experience without judgment or resistance” (Blum, 2014). There are “numerous mindfulness techniques that can be a part of mindfulness practice: body scan, progressive relaxation, guided imagery, mantra, and mindful eating to help decrease stress” (Koren, 2017). Relaxation with breathing exercises or guided imagery can be done anywhere, at work or at home. Guided imagery is the use of relaxation and mental visualization to improve mood and/or physical well-being. Techniques of guided imagery can include a “range of techniques from simple visualization and direct imagery-based suggestion through metaphor and storytelling” (Blum, 2014).

One of the advantages of using this activity is that is free of cost and can help you in many aspects of your life. Breathing exercises (i.e deep breathing) is something soothing and can really help with mindfulness. “If a person does not have an adequate self-care agency to meet these requisites, or self-care demands, the person will have a self-care deficit. When there is deficit identified, the need for a nursing agency exists” (Callahan, 2000). Nurses face stressful situations and need to decompress options can be limited due to time constraints. Family and outside of work life can be a source of stress. Financial worries and even relationships can cause distress and worry. Finding a balance is challenging but not impossible. My personal experience on how I handle stressful terms in nursing schools is planning.

Planning time for leisure, and personal time makes a difference on my sanity. Another activity that I find relaxing is reading. I like to make a goal of dedicating a couple of hours a week to read a good book. This activity allows me to disconnect and travel to a different world for a few hours a week which happens to be one of the highlights of my week. If one were to splurge on a self-care activity one that comes to mind immediately is taking time off and going on a vacation and even possibly going on a retreat to help reconnect with yourself. An example of a retreat would include MASC™ (My Authentic Self-Care) retreat which consists of a “3-day journey dedicated to helping you create balance in your life, find inner peace, and experience less stress so you can be your best for those around you. Radical self-compassion is a personal commitment to intentionally nourish your mind, body, and spirit, which enables you to show up in the world at your absolute best” (Miles, 2017). Retreats can help optimize an individual’s wellbeing, resilience, promote relationships, and enhance outcomes and satisfaction.

In conclusion, there are many options when trying to find a self-care activity that fit our crazy, demanding, and sometimes unpredictable schedules. The first step is to recognize our personal needs for self-care along with finding adequate ways to take care of our needs. As nurses, it is up to us as individuals to find out what method works best. If we do not actively practice self-care it can lead to errors, exhaustion, tension, health problems, fatigue which can be known as burnout which can cause one to leave the nursing profession and pursue something else. By not caring for ourselves our personal and relationship can suffer. It is important for nurses to recognize the importance of self-care and start early to prevent burnout from occurring.

 7 Effective Self – Care Activities for Nurses Essay essay

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