Self-Care Techniques

Self Care Ideas

The very first thing you need to do, especially when life is busy and you have responsibilities in several areas is to SCHEDULE time to take care of yourself and don't give it up! Setting and keeping healthy boundaries is crucial for your long-term health. Practicing self-care can be as short or simple as taking a deep breath. It can be as long or complicated as taking a month-long backpacking trip through Europe. 

...boundaries needed!

Setting healthy boundaries starts with knowing yourself, what you need, and where you need to grow. When I was in nursing school, I was not able to set boundaries because I felt the need to be and do whatever others needed because I didn’t think anyone would want me around otherwise… I didn’t think I was wanted or loveable as a person - I needed to do or be something for someone else in order to “fit in” or be wanted - and I didn’t even realize it. Once you realize that you as a person matter, the next steps are much easier.

Learn how and that it’s okay to say NO. Be assertive - you don’t have to explain your reasons, you can just say, “No, I can’t do that” “No, I won’t be there” “No, that’s not a good idea right now.” Sometimes, offering reasons for why gives well-intentioned people an opportunity to help you change your mind by "fixing" the why not. 

If you just say “no” it will either be dropped or they’ll push you for a reason. Until you’ve gotten really good at saying no and setting/keeping boundaries, I recommend that you don’t answer their questions. Just repeat “No, I'm sorry" or "No, I can’t do that, attend that, whatever…” Nobody wants to hear that their event or activity isn’t a priority for you. 


What makes you happy? What helps you relax? When can you take a deep breath and know that everything is going to be okay?

This looks different for everyone. Sometimes, it depends on what's going on around you and can change by the day.

Some people like to read. Others like to hike. Some like to ride a bike. Sometimes it's listening to music and drinking a cup of coffee. What is self-care for me might be torture for you. Don't expect to do the same thing as everyone else and feel the same way afterward. 

Self-care means taking care of YOU. This starts with knowing yourself and what you need, what you like, what you prefer. And knowing you need to say no... and being okay with it!

Not sure where to start? 

Here's a link to a quiz that can help you identify things that will help you de-stress and re-energize:

Granted, it ends with ideas and advertisements, but it might help you narrow down your preferences if you don't already know them!

Remember, self-care for you is likely to be different than it is for me. And sometimes, what you need to do will vary from day to day. Sometimes I need to connect with a friend or loved one and sometimes I need to be alone or take a nap.

Practicing Self-care

First, use these ideas to help you decide what you can do daily. Then, look at what can be done weekly, monthly, or yearly as time, schedule, and budget allows. There is no "right way" to do self-care as long as you are purposeful in your decisions and actions. 

The pictures above have links to the websites I found the images on. They also provide decent information on self-care and other ideas that may be helpful for you. 

Another list can be found here:


There are several reasons why different types of therapy may be beneficial to you as a nurse. See the picture to the left? That depicts one such therapy. Unofficially, "talk therapy" can be any variation of counseling, CBT, DBT, or other type of therapy. There are also life coaches, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, massage therapists, accupuncture therapists... you get the idea. The website (linked to the associated picture) lists the four most common reasons why a nurse may choose therapy and what type of therapy may be most beneficial. 

Talk therapy, or psychotherapy, is something many don't talk about because subjects covered are often very personal in nature and we don't know how to bridge the gap. I will say, however, that more people are in counseling than you'd think -AND- those who engage with therapy are the most mature, aware people I have worked with. They de-escalate agitated patients better than others and have a more person-focused mentality than others. 

Massage therapy and acupuncture are other types of therapy that have documented benefits to physical, mental, and emotional health. 

Therapy: Not for "crazy people"

Being "in therapy" or going to counseling is not something to be ashamed of or be afraid of. Talk therapy is a great way to learn more about how you respond subconsciously to people or situations and a great way to learn coping strategies or techniques that are specifically geared toward your own strengths and weaknesses - either to play off your strengths or to strengthen your weaknesses in order to improve you as a person which improves your relationships, your families, and your career. 

I firmly believe everyone should go to counseling for some amount of time to have "someone in their corner" and to provide an unbiased perspective. Here's a short story from another nurse who outlines the benefit of therapy for her, how it has helped her, and how it helps her connect with her patients: Meet Tara Fink, RN

For more resources or information on therapy services, please look here.