Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ Blog - How Do You Routinely Practice Self-Care?
This was the question the Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation (HNHN) team asked of nurses who attended the 2021 ANCC Magnet and Pathway to Excellence conferences.
Our goal was simple: to spark a conversation. We wanted those who came by our booth to think about their own self-care practices and feel inspired and empowered by their peers.
The HNHN team brought a few dozen sticky note pads and a portable easel down to Atlanta, and set up a station encouraging people to share their self-care routines and activities. We then asked them to place their self-care stickies into one of six general categories: physical activity, meditation/journaling, quality time with loved ones, arts/creative, spa/beauty, and other.
We got off to a bit of a slow start. We heard things like “I don’t practice self-care enough.” There is certainly truth to this statement – with the systemic issues that nurses face on a day-to-day basis, such as staffing shortages, cultural practices, and the professional and personal stresses, we know that many don’t have the time, energy, or resources for self-care. But as the conference went on, more and more nurses started sharing the little things that they try and do for themselves on a regular basis. And, as more nurses started sharing, their words encouraged others to share as well.
We had 272 sticky notes by the end of the weekend, all with the voices and perspectives of nurses around self-care. Here is what they said:
Nurses also practiced internal reflection in a variety of different forms - about 1/6 of the sticky notes mentioned meditation, spirituality, or gratitude lists. Others discussed how taking personal or alone time was an important component of their self-care routine, with one nurse noting “lunch break – read my book to refresh for [the] rest of [my] shift.”
QT with loved ones
Nurses shared how spending time with loved ones helps refill their cups. Whether it be their parents, partners, children, friends, or pets, nurses valued this quality time. Time with loved ones included “snuggling with my babies,” “brunch with my besties,” and “playing with my dogs:)”
Some nurses shared how they treated themselves to treatments, services, and experiences to actively help them relax and refresh. Many mentioned regular massages or mani/pedi appointments, while others referenced taking a bubble bath with a glass of wine. One person referred “spending extra time in the shower” as a simple way to practice self-care.
The arts allowed some nurses to engage in self-care. Nurses discussed how they loved crafts like knitting, crocheting, and sewing, while others enjoyed cooking or baking. Some nurses found contentment in music, with one person sharing they “sing like no one is listening!”
About a tenth of the sticky notes references self-care practices that didn’t quite fit into our pre-determined categories. Nurses reported that activities like jigsaw puzzles or “binge watching crime documentaries” as ways to unwind.
Self-care can be big or small, pricey or free, time consuming or quick. The most important thing about self-care is that it is for YOU. It should be the thing that refills your cup, even just a little, to better help you face the challenges of the day.
So, how do you routinely practice self-care?
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I love a warm bath with a bath bomb, a cold drink, a crossword. Or taking a few minutes to sit back with a face mask on!
I enjoy taking a 3-mile walk while listening to a book on tape.
I agree. Exercise helps me to unwind and reduce my stress level.