Nia M. Martin, MSN-Ed, RN
Nurse creates “Therapeutic Thursdays” to focus on her own well-being
If you’re like most nurses, prioritizing yourself doesn’t come naturally. Instead, you’re usually caring for those around you and putting yourself last. But as nurse Nia Martin has learned over the past few years, it’s possible to find balance between caring for others and caring for yourself.
Just a few years ago, Nia didn’t have that sense of balance. She was overstressed and feeling the effects mentally and physically. She was diagnosed with high blood pressure and a tumor on her kidney, which she later found out was congenital but had progressed quickly due to her stress.
Enter the COVID-19 pandemic, and Nia’s stress reached a new level. In addition to her health issues and stressful career, Nia was also now responsible for her third-grade son’s virtual education. These layers of stress told Nia that something had to change, and that something was an increased focus on her own wellness.
“Being able to put myself first was something I always struggled with,” said Nia. “But all of this forced me to be more intentional about things that affect my well-being.”
Lifestyle Changes for the Better
Nia shifted from putting herself last to scheduling deliberate time for herself. She changed her diet by removing meat, which improved her digestive health. She prioritized physical activity by taking daily walks in the evening with her husband. She also started journaling and doing mindful meditation.
Her biggest change was introducing Therapeutic Thursdays — an entire day dedicated to what she needs in that moment. On this day each week, Nia does whatever she feels her body and mind need — and leaves the rest to her family. That means no cooking, no cleaning, and no stress.
The schedule on these days varies. Nia usually starts the day between 5:30–6:00 a.m. with prayer time, then makes herself breakfast and goes for a walk. Sometimes she gets massages, spends time with a friend she hasn’t seen in a while, or treats herself to dinner. Whatever she does, she’s purposeful about it — it must benefit her own wellness.
This focus on herself helps Nia to feel a greater sense of calm and peace. She no longer has the high anxiety and stress she used to feel. She’s lost weight. Overall, she feels healthier.
That’s not to say these changes didn’t come without challenges. The biggest hurdle, Nia said, was getting over the guilt of occasionally putting herself above others — something that took time for loved ones to understand.
“My kids didn’t like it at first, because they had to learn to do more for themselves on Thursdays,” said Nia. “It was definitely an adjustment for my family to understand that I need this time for myself.”
It’s all about balance and consistency. Nia knows she deserves to put some focus on herself in the midst of constantly taking care of others. And you deserve that, too.
There’s so much that nurses can do to prioritize themselves and live healthier, happier lives. Nia suggests:
- Create time for yourself: Figure out what makes you feel whole and stay true to that. It’s not selfish to focus on yourself. You can’t care for others if you don’t care for yourself.
- Find your balance: What works for Nia might not work for you. Everyone has their own way of filling their cup and making themselves feel whole.
- Be intentional: Your time is precious, especially the time you set aside for yourself. Make wise choices about what you do to improve your well-being.
- Practice Self-Compassion: Improve your self-talk. It’s important for you to be warm and understanding toward yourself when you suffer, fail, or feel inadequate. It will also help you relate better to others.
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