Love Yourself First

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February 2022 Connections

If you are like me, you are hearing about self-care everywhere lately.  I will be the first to agree that self-care is important, but much of what I hear and see relates to the idea of self-care not the actual activities that it includes.

There are an infinite number of ways we can treat ourselves better, but I hear less about these strategies than about the importance of practicing self-care.  I thought this month I would provide you a sample of ideas and some resources you can use to research the strategies that may work best for you.

this month I WILL provide you a sample of ideas and some resources you can use to research the strategies that may work best for you.

Before I share that information, I want to recognize that self-care can have negative connotations for some because many of the issues that cause nurses stress and moral injury are systemic issues. Nursing needs engaged leaders who identify the challenges nurses face in our practice environments and make change.

The time is over where nurse leaders tell caregivers to take care of themselves to prevent and reduce their symptoms of burnout.  Yes, it is important for nurses to put their health first and care for themselves physically and emotionally, but there must be change in the healthcare system to make the environment safe and reduce the burden of care on nurses.

So while this blog post offers strategies for individual well-being, I recognize that having systemic strategies to impact nurses well-being are equally important.

Self-care is defined by one source as “a multidimensional, multifaceted process of purposeful engagement in strategies that promote healthy functioning and enhance well-being” (Dorociak et al., 2017).

Self-care is defined by one source as “a multidimensional, multifaceted process of purposeful engagement in strategies that promote healthy functioning and enhance well-being” (Dorociak et al., 2017).

There are 5 types of self-care including physical, social, mental, spiritual, and emotional (Scott, 2021). 

Verywellmind.com divides activities into these 5 categories, and another website, throughthewoodstherapy.com has 100 activities divided into these same categories along with extra categories such as “when you’re burned out, when you have less than 3 minutes, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, and scientifically proven to boost your mood.” 

To break down these categories, physical care consists of caring for your body—eating nutritious food that fuels your body, getting enough sleep, exercising, even going to regular health check-ups can be part of this category. Other physical self-care activities include:

  • Spend time outdoors
  • Stretch while watching tv
  • Play a sport you enjoy
  • Dance
  • Drink plenty of water

Social care is all about nurturing your relationships with family members and friends—define how much time you need to set aside to spend with these people to feel fulfilled. Ways to nurture your valued relationships include:

  • Call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while
  • Reach out to your best friend
  • Have a deep conversation with a trusted confidant
  • Plan a game night and make it a regular occurrence
  • Get to know the children in your life

Read a bookMental care activities help to keep your mind sharp and help you maintain a healthy and positive inner dialogue. Some of ideas for mental self-care activities include:

  • Do a puzzle, word search, or sudoku
  • Learn something new
  • Read a book
  • Use grounding exercises to decrease anxiety
  • Do your favorite thing 3 times/week

Taking care of yourself spiritually and emotionally is also important. Simply accepting our emotions as part of our human experience and allowing yourself to move through those feelings can be healing.

In addition, connecting ourselves to the greater universe may help us develop a deeper sense of meaning. Here are some ideas to practice spiritual and emotional self-care:

  • Laugh
  • Practice mindfulness or meditation
  • Engage in random acts of kindness
  • Play with an animal
  • Be creative by drawing or painting

Some of the other ideas for self-care I came across are also fun and interesting:

  • If you only have 3 minutes
    • Do 10 jumping jacks (or more—you do have 3 minutes!)
    • Write down 3 things you like about yourself
    • Listen to an empowering song
  • If you are feeling overwhelmed
    • Make a to-do list
    • Vent to someone who will help you process the issue productively
    • Pick 2-3 task and complete them to feel accomplished
  • If you are burned out
    • Take a vacation
    • Focus on hobbies and passions outside of work
    • Ask for a change in job responsibilities
  • Scientifically proven mood boosters
    • Exercise—boosts endorphins and dopamine to improve your mood
    • Hug someone for 30 seconds—produces oxytocin to make you feel safe
    • Do something nice for someone

I hope my words have provided you some strategies you can incorporate into your self-care journey.  A simple internet search can yield you many more options. The key is to figure out what works for you and then make time to do those activities.  In February, we celebrate love on the 14th.

I think it is a great month to focus on caring for yourself and putting yourself first. Please reach out to AMSN and let us know what works for you and how you put yourself first, and as always, thank you for everything you do to care for others every day.

REFERENCES
Dorociak K., Rupert P., Bryant F., Zahniser E. (2017). Development of a self-care assessment for psychologists. Journal of Counseling Psychology. 64(3):325-334. doi:10.1037/cou0000206 https://doi.org/10.1037/cou0000206

Scott, E. (2021). 5 self-care practices for every area of your life. Verywell Mind. Retrieved January 26, 2022, from https://www.verywellmind.com/self-care-strategies-overall-stress-reduction-3144729#citation-7

Steinburg, J. (2015, August 13). 100 strategies to help you practice self-care. Through the Woods Therapy Center. Retrieved January 25, 2022, from https://www.throughthewoodstherapy.com/100-strategies-for-self-care/

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