We choose nursing to give to others, and early in our careers we begin to find countless ways to do that. Along the way, however, we also find times when we can’t give because we’re stressed or emotionally or physically exhausted. Whether from overload, long shifts or heavy patient assignments, we feel drained and running on empty, with nothing left to give. We worry we’re not caring for our patients the way we want to, we get even more stressed, and a vicious cycle that can end in burnout or compassion fatigue begins.
We’ve heard both terms and we know what they mean. We’ve discussed them in classes and seminars and looked at what the experts say about them. We’ve read research on signs and symptoms and we know some preventive measures like exercise, yoga, relaxation techniques and meditation. We’ve shared what we know with our colleagues and our staff — but what have we done for ourselves? It’s not enough to just admit we’re stressed, nervous, sad or depressed. We have to know what to do and then give ourselves permission to do it.
Nurse.com brings you updates on self-care, what’s current and what’s available when it’s you, the caregiver, who needs the care. We help you focus not only on what you can do, but also what you must do for yourself and your patients.
Remember: We’re in this wonderful profession because we want to take care of others, but we have to take care of us first.
For more on self-care, read “Stress in the OR,” “Overcoming compassion fatigue and burnout” and “Research shows new ways for nurses to take care of themselves.”