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  • by jennifer Bouchard
  • May 7, 2014

To Improve Your Care for Others, Care for Yourself First

The core of nursing is care for others. While it is a rewarding and fulfilling career path, it can be exhausting for nurses who do not care for themselves in the same way they would care for a patient. While giving care to others, nurses tend to neglect care of themselves.

The stresses of a healthcare work environment can be particularly challenging for nurses because the profession is always changing. The role of the nurse is not stagnant, and with any rapid change comes stress.

“Nurses are responsible for meeting the needs of a growing population with an increasing number of comorbid conditions,” said Jill Price, PhD, MSN, RN, assistant dean of the RN-BSN online degree completion option at Chamberlain College of Nursing. “Nurses are instructed to do more with less, while still giving 100 percent to their patients. In such a high-stress environment, self-care is essential.”

Caring for Self

Caring for oneself starts with the individual nurse. Dr. Price advised, “Nurses should know their limitations and listen to their minds and bodies. If their minds need a break, they can engage in mental activities to de-stress, such as meditation, exercise, sleep or spending quality time with family.”

Eating well-balanced meals also helps nurses be at their best physically. Self-care is not always easy to incorporate in a daily routine, but if nurses put themselves first it can make a considerable difference in how they care for others.

Prioritizing Personal Needs

“My own personal care has changed throughout my career,” Dr. Price explained. “As I get older physically, I find myself unable to do the things I used to do when I was younger. At the same time, I feel emotionally and mentally stronger. I can now set aside time to prioritize my needs so I can be there for others at work and at home.”

Dr. Price recommends that nurses develop relaxation methods that assist with their physical and mental well-being. These may include biking, swimming or relaxing on the beach. She added, “When I am in a joyful, relaxed state of mind, I can give extraordinary care to all who encounter my path.”

Nurses who care for themselves can more effectively care for their patients and fellow healthcare professionals with the energy, mindset and physical capability required of the job. Nurses must keep their own minds and bodies healthy in order to deliver quality treatment, support and comfort to those in their care. Patients will thank them, and they will be better nurses for it.

How do you monitor and maintain your physical wellbeing?

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