Self care during a pandemic!!

Self- care is how you take your power back
Lalah Delia

We are currently living in a time of challenge, uncertainty, and fear. The world as we know it has changed overnight.  Most of us are living our lives now with a greater respect for hand hygiene and social distancing, but what about the nurses?  Front line staff and nurse leaders still get up every day, 7 days a week 24 hours a day, throw on scrubs, and head out to care for the sick, and to face the unknown. Exhaustion may be starting to set in, maybe feelings of frustration and even helplessness are starting to appear. During times of crisis and chaos, feelings of anxiety and powerlessness are common. These feelings can leave us exhausted, confused, and emotionally drained.  There is no doubt nurses are strong and resilient people, but sometimes self- care is not a priority, especially during times like this.

Eating healthy food, and getting enough sleep are obvious and important ways to practice self -care. However, accepting your limits and having the ability to decompress and re-group emotionally and mentally is just as important in caring for the self.  It is necessary to pause daily to assess your self- care practices, both physically and mentally.  Here are some suggestions that may help you embrace emotional and mental self-care.

  • Be kind and forgiving of yourself. Perfectionism is not the goal. The expectations perfectionists set for themselves are often unattainable and unnecessary. Not meeting those expectations can lead to self-criticism and negative self -talk, which we all know can zap any remaining energy we might have.  Recognize and accept your humanity just as you recognize and accept the humanity in others.
  • Ask for help when you need help. It is never easy to ask for help, regardless of the circumstances. As nurses, we always want to be perceived as being ‘in control,’ however, there will be times when we need help and support. Try remembering this; most people love to help, and those people know that by helping others, relationships are strengthened, and healthy communities are created. It is always easier to give than receive.  Nurses are natural givers, but, especially in times like these, nurses need to understand and accept that they are worthy to be receivers
  • Share your feelings with family, friends or others who support you. It is ok to be vulnerable   Being vulnerable is being authentic to yourself on how you are feeling and honest about how a situation is affecting you.  Sharing those feelings with people who love and support you helps keep perspective.
  • Breathe. Close your eyes, place on hand on your stomach. Inhale slowly, counting to five as you breath in.  Hold your breath for a count of five and then slowly exhale.  Deep breathing helps you regroup, reconnect, and refocus.

The nurse is a member of a tribe that continues to care for others regardless of the uncertainty and the fear that is currently present in the world. Please take time each day to pause and think about your well being because it starts with you.

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