Operating on the frontlines of a pandemic, face to face with highly contagious coronavirus, it is essential that we have the adequate tools and knowledge to help us better manage our stress levels. Increased patient ratios, higher workloads, and inadequate staffing are just a few elements that are placing larger amounts of strain on nurses. If you have worked a rapid response or crisis contract, then you know the exact pressure this can entail. Read on for ideas of self care activities for nurses – because we could all use a moment to re-center ourselves!
If you are reading this, most likely you are already a travel nurse or have thought about stepping into the travel nurse profession. Travel nursing is an incredible career accompanied with an abundance of opportunity, wealth, knowledge, and experience. As any normal part of life, the highs of this career cannot exist without being accompanied by a fair amount of stress as well. In order for you to achieve success and longevity, it is imperative that you incorporate a self care activities and routines for yourself. As nurses, we spend our entire career serving others. So in order to show up as our best self for others, we must also show love and compassion to ourselves first!
Whether you are just beginning your career or have many years of experience, these 7 tips for self care activities for nurses will help you thrive mentally, physically, and emotionally so you can live your best life as a travel nurse in a pandemic.
1. Gratitude Practice and Journaling.
Starting the morning with a positive mindset sets the tone for the rest of the day. Contemplate the things in life you are grateful for right now. You can also use this time to be grateful for what you are currently manifesting as well! Think and speak it to existence as if it is already yours. If you have an overactive or anxious mind, journaling can be a great way to sort out your thoughts onto paper. This helps with mental processing and assists in clearing the mind.
Incorporating movement into your daily routine has many benefits for maintaining overall wellness. Exercise and movement have evident positive outcomes for physical health but also have shown to aid in emotional processing as well. Movement can consist of anything that feels good to you. This can include dancing, lifting weights, hiking, skating, swimming, yoga or even just simple stretching after a long shift at work.
3. Mindfulness and Meditation.
It’s important to take the time to check in with yourself. How are you feeling? How are you thinking? How are you doing, really? Ask yourself these questions and be honest with yourself. Being mindful on what is occurring internally can directly affect your actions and processes externally. Meditation doesn’t always have look like sitting on the ground with your legs crossed and your palms face up resting on your knees chanting “Om”. Meditation can be as simple as taking a walk in the park or even channeling your creative side doing activities that put you in your flow state.
4. Adequate Sleep.
Sleep is, unfortunately, often sacrificed in order to meet the demands of a stressful job. Factors that can affect achieving a good night’s rest can include, but are not limited to, caffeine, anxiety, alcohol, medications, lighting, and pain. Detecting what factors are affecting your from achieving quality sleep and addressing those can greatly improve your mood, mental processes, and memory which are all necessary to perform daily nursing duties.
5. Healthy Diet and Hydration.
Limiting processed foods from our diet and focusing on consuming whole natural foods will help keep our bodies functioning at their highest level to keep us healthy and sustained while working long strenuous shifts. Adequate hydration is just as imperative for proper cellular functioning as well. Our bodies are 70% water after all.
Taking a few moments each day to focus on your breath can significantly improve your quality of daily life. Most days we tend to operate from a sympathetic (fight or flight) response and need to re-calibrate our bodies to a parasympathetic state. Focusing on our breath, taking slow deep inhalations and exhalations, can improve focus, decrease anxiety, and manifest a clearer state of mind and a calmer nervous system.
7. Do something for yourself everyday.
Self care activities are not selfish. Do one thing for yourself every day that makes you feel good, brings you joy, or gives you peace. Make yourself a cup of tea, treat yourself to a facemask, or book that massage you keep putting off. We all work too hard not to feel good. So go treat yourself, you deserve it!
About Chelsea Renner, RN