Self-care is the deliberate decision with resulting actions taken by individuals to address their own health and well-being. This includes physical, mental, emotional, or psychological. It can be ongoing (or long-term) or an in-the-moment awareness with responses to immediate stressors.
Without taking care of yourself, you will not be able to care for others. It is important to take care of yourself because we need you.
Talking about nursing, you hear about evidence-based practice. Well, there are increasing amounts of evidence that "when people increase their own well-being, they usually become more patient, cooperative and caring in their relationships" (Hanson, 2018, p.11). Is there a better ask for a human being? Especially for a nurse? No, this is exactly what we, as nurses, need. Going back to my story under the introduction, I am living proof (which is called anecdotal evidence in academia) that improving your own well-being creates more patience, cooperation, and caring.
There are many analogies that try to explain a complex and abstract concept. Picture yourself as a nurse with a forcefield around you that provides a buffer or protection from the rigors of daily life. The more turbulence you encounter, the more that forcefield buffers, the weaker it gets. This forcefield is defined by four different qualities: personality, experiences, values, and desires. Because these are different for each of us, the strength and size of our forcefield will vary widely. What doesn't vary is the fact that this forcefield can be formed and maintained through self-care practices.
Self-care is selfish / people will look down on me if I set aside time for myself
Self-care can wait / it's not a good time to start
Self-care is just a class or a once-in-a-lifetime experience
...Just the Facts
Self-care is a lifelong practice.
We are really good at caring for and nurturing others, but often forget about ourselves, unfortunately. Unfortunately, self-care is often overlooked and not spoken of enough. When we optimize our own mental and emotional well-being, we are healthier overall and we are able to provide better care to those around us! Click the link above for another article that speaks to the importance of self-care but also gives ideas for how to monitor and strengthen our mental health.
The more you practice self-care, the more it helps protect you against stressors you face.
"In a profession marked by burnout, high attrition rates, empathy fatigue, and moral distress, self-care is simply imperative."
~ Dorrie K Fontaine, Tim Cunningham, and Natalie May
"But, HOW do I take care of myself?" you may ask. Well, look no further than here... Just Kidding... feel free to look wherever you'd like. Just remember what looks like self-care for me may look very different for you - and that's OKAY!!