Nursing is an incredibly rewarding profession, but it can also be incredibly demanding. Nurses are expected to provide compassionate and empathetic care to their patients, while also managing their own stress levels and maintaining their own health. Self-care is an essential practice for nurses, as it helps them reduce stress, improve the quality of care they provide, and live healthier, longer lives. Self-care is the act of caring for oneself in a holistic, intentional and important way.
It means making sure that your needs are met intellectually, emotionally, physically, relationally and spiritually. Unfortunately, many nurses neglect self-care practices, leading to mistakes at work, fatigue, exhaustion, health problems, and a general disdain for life. The American Nurses Association recommends self-care as part of its Code of Ethics. This is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic when nurses are under even more pressure to provide quality care.
Self-care is a skill that can be developed and improved with practice. At the end of the semester, an intensive weekend is held in which students present additional self-care activities and health promotion topics that are important to them. Common self-care topics for each of these groups included proper diet, exercise, and stress-reduction techniques. Writing the final document of the course helps the student to “bring it all together” and identify the course content that was meaningful to them and the personal care activities they intend to incorporate into their lives. The faculty promoted this initiative on the premise that teaching about the concept of self-care must be linked to the recipients in the way they learn best and be guided by the principles of adult learning theory (Knowles, 1990).
The author describes the evolution of this personal care initiative by analyzing needs assessment, course description and strategies, examples of course activities, and an example of student impact. Nurses must ensure that they provide themselves with the same respect and care that they provide to their patients. Self-care is essential for personal health, the livelihood to continue caring for others and professional growth. It also allows them to take the time necessary to gain knowledge about topics outside of care and allows them to take a mental break from the stressful world of nursing. Nurses' self-care practices are associated with healthier lifestyles, meaning a lower risk of health-related problems. Work-related stressors are many and may include the protection of patients' rights, staff ratio, patient acumen, challenging work environments, reduced management support, role conflicts.
It is documented that work-related stress can contribute to illness by decreasing immune system function, aging and depression (Blum, 201). The research concludes that more attention must be paid to the health of nursing staff to positively influence the quality of patient care and patient safety and to control costs. In light of these benefits I challenge my students to consider what they are currently doing to practice self-care behaviors. I encourage them to plan a self-care day to share with the class on our online panel discussion. Self-care is an essential practice for nurses that should be incorporated into their lives regularly.