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Monday, August 31, 2015

Taking Care of You: The Importance of Self-Care



On every airline flight, a flight attendant give directions to those on board so they know what to do if there is an emergency. One line always stands out for me; “If you are traveling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person”. I think this line speaks volumes about the importance of self-care.  Because if we don’t take care of ourselves, how can we take care of others?

Today, most nurses are responsible for taking care of their families, aging parents, patients and their caregivers, other members of the healthcare team and others depending on their circumstances. As a result, self-care is often tossed out the window due to time restraints, work schedules, and responsibilities. Yet, most of us know that making room for our own needs is critical to enabling us to care for others and keep going with calm and inner strength.

Self-care only works when you listen to your body and do what you want without resistance. For me, I’ve learned to do things that allow me to step away from the challenges of my day-to-day routine and allow me to relax my mind and body.  My routine has changed as a few months ago; I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. I was treated with aggressive chemotherapy which eradicated the tumor but left me with neuropathy and nerve damage in both legs. As a result, I have had to re-learn how to exercise and take care of myself so that I continue to heal. Today, I swim, do water aerobics, write a Blog and spend time with my husband, family, and friends. These activities have allowed me to relax and focus on healing. I have a long way to go, but being able to cope with the challenges of a major medical illness has allowed me to refocus on everyday challenges.

Think about things that you like to do and make time for them. Don't feel like you have to spend a lot of money on these things, but you do have to commit to taking care of yourself. Here are some things that you might want to consider adding to your to-do list that will allow you to improve your mind, body and spirit: 

  • Get medical and dental checkups on a regular basis
  •   Find an exercise that you like to do and set time aside to do it.  Schedule the time as an appointment and keep it!
  •  If you have fallen away from your religious affiliation, reconnect. Having a higher power that you can depend on, talk to, pray to and believe in can provide strength during challenging times. 
  • Find a cause that means something to you and volunteer. Giving back allows you to focus on others rather than yourself.
  • Continue to learn. Learning helps us learn new perspectives and opens up your mind. If you have a desire to return to school, make time for it. If you are interesting learning new things, look at your local community colleges as many times they have self-improvement courses that you can take for reasonable costs. Another option is an online program called Coursera. These are on-line courses that are free and cover a wide variety of topics. Here is the link to review the website and the various courses offered. https://www.coursera.org 
  • Take the time to have fun. Life is short. Take time off and enjoy yourself, your family and your friends.
  •  Make a move. If you are not happy in your career, make a move. Nursing is rich with opportunities.
  •  Network with colleagues. Networking is an important part of your professional career.
So from one nurse to another, take care of yourself!

To read more post on Self-Help from the August 2015 Nurse Blog Carnival go  to http://thebossynurse.com/nurse-blog-carnival-self-care-for-nurses/

I am proud to be part of Aspiring Nurse Bloggers.