Healthy Nurses: Perspectives on Caring for Ourselves
April 24, 2017
Response by Sheryl Garriques-Lloyd to OJIN topic: “Healthy Nurses: Perspectives on Caring for Ourselves” (September 30, 2014)
I am writing in acknowledgement of the age old question; who cares for the caregivers? As nurses we offer different levels of interventions, all with the intention of allowing our patients to attain and maintain optimal health. In many instances however, nurses sacrifice themselves to facilitate the well-being of patients and families. With the challenge to improve our own health, what perspectives can we, as nurses, offer on caring for ourselves? Many suggestions on caring for ourselves commonly include physical and nutritional health, but I would like to highlight caring for our mental health.
Mental health does not get the emphasis it deserves but as our approach to patient care is holistic, similarly our approach to self-care should also be and must include being mentally healthy. As healthcare workers, we face unique stressors and the point must be made that if we are unwell, then who will care for our patients? As the saying goes, “Prevention is better than cure.” So how do we care for our mental health? Below are a few staring pointers that are in no way exhaustive:
- Schedule time for yourself – there will always be things to complete but remember, you are also important (Salter, 2016).
- Accept what cannot be changed or controlled – stress is unavoidable. A better option may be to accept what cannot be changed and find the best coping strategies (Robinson, Smith & Segal, 2016).
- Explore your creativity - think about painting or a new hobby. Creativity engages the mind (Salter, 2016).
- Get physical - exercise is key to maintaining mental health. Physical activity helps stimulate chemicals called endorphins in your brain. These chemicals help release feelings of relaxation and contentment (Robinson et al., 2016).
- Engage socially – building human relationships is important to maintain your well-being, and laughter and fun are important life components. It is good to have someone to listen (Robinson et al., 2016).
- Focus on the positive – nurses know the importance of a positive attitude. Looking at the positive aspects of all situations can greatly improve the way you manage reactions and can help you to become a happier person (Salter, 2016).
Therefore, an important perspective to care for ourselves remains: “There is no good health, without good mental health.”
Sheryl Garriques-Lloyd MSc, BSc, RN
The UWI School of Nursing, Mona
Jamaica, W. I.
Robinson, L., Smith, M., & Segal, R. (2016). Stress management: How to reduce, prevent and cope with stress. Retrieved from: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-management.htm
Salter School of Nursing and Allied Health. (2016). 6 ways nurses can improve their mental health. Retrieved from: https://www.salternursing.com/a-nurses-guide-to-maintaining-mental-health/