Often, as nurses, we don’t prioritize self-care. We brag about working a 12-hour shift without eating or sometimes without even peeing. We wear it as a badge of honor sometimes. And I know there are times where you sacrifice for the sake of taking care of your patients. But the consistent practice of over-working and not caring for your mind, your body, and your spirit will ultimately lead to breakdown of mind or body or both.
Self-Care is Not Selfish
It sounds cliche but it is our responsibility to take care of our own bodies. We educate our patients to ways they need to take responsibility for their own health and then we ignore our own. When I was a nursing student I did a rotation through the cath lab. I was shocked to see nurses and physicians coming in from their smoke break and stop by the break room to grab pastries and soda. I wondered how long it would be before they were patients in their own cath lab!
My Instruction Manual
My Bible has many verses that guide me and encourage me to take care of this one body I was given.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Charges me to care for my body and see it as the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
We are encouraged to manage our minds and our anxiety levels in Philippians 4:6-8 “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
I am instructed to myself well and fuel my body’s needs. Matthew 15:32 “Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.”
Our bodies require regular rest periods. Mark 6:31 “And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.”
I must know my limits. Exodus 18:18-19 “But Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good. Surely you and these people with you will wear yourselves out, because the task is too heavy for you. You cannot handle it alone.”
My spirit is energized when I do the work I was created to do. Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Evaluate Your Own Health Care Practices
“An empty lantern shines no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows yourself to shine brightly.” – Anonymous
I try to work my self-care practices into my daily routine so that they become habit. Other self-care happens less regularly like my chiropractor and massage appointments. I have found that I need less frequent appointments if I go regularly for a “tune up” instead of going in when I’m a total mess. Other self-care includes self-coaching and getting coached by a life coach. Even life coaches need a coach!
Take a hard look how you are caring for yourself and look for ways to level up this month. You don’t always need to do some huge overhaul of your life to implement self-care. What are some easy ways you can take better care of yourself this month?