Nurses Must Learn to Take Care of Themselves

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    taking care of yourself is much easier to say then do! although there are more men in the helping professions today, in nursing the vast majority are still women.

    [color=#993300]womens' sense of self is often one of caretaker and nurturer.

    nurturing and care taking have long been associated with women in general, and nurses and social workers in particular. empathy is a mainstay of the helping professions, particularly the “women’s professions” such as nursing and social work. nurturance has historically been intertwined with, and seen as a major function of nursing. nursing has been called the “practice of professional nurturing”.

    we often ask ourselves the question "w[color=#993300]ho comes first you or me"?

    when a woman must choose between caring for herself and caring for another, social pressure fosters the choice of nurturing of others. women often experience conflict when faced with what may seems like the endless choices about who comes first, that is; do i care for me or you first? women often have difficulty saying no or setting limits. they often wind up doing more than they really want to. women may nurture everyone but themselves. this will cause them to end up feeling conflicted, unappreciated, resentful, and burned out. these issues can be much worse for those in the professional role of nurse and nurturer.

    [color=#993300]some hints for self-nurturing for nurses and all women
    • take care of yourself, it allow you to better take care of others
    • use your empathy and nurturing for yourself.
    • care for and understand yourself with the same expertise you give your patients.
    • say no when you want to. if you have a hard time saying no, offer alternatives (i can't do that but i can do this). avoiding situations where you will be asked to do to much is really ok.
    • increase your self-awareness
    • unwind after work before you jump into your responsibilitess at home. (do not use alcohol to unwind)
    • do not base all your self-worth on your profession or your nurturing abilities.
    • develop outside interests, if you volunteer choose opportunities that have nothing to do with helping others!
    • don't identify with patients too much.
    • identify your feeling and accept and allow them. this does not mean you have to act on them!
    • friendships where you can talk about your feelings are critical.
    • practice stress reduction techniques (exercise, relaxation, meditation, distraction)
    • plan for regular breaks, days off, conferences, and vacations.
    • talk with colleagues to make plans for burnout prevention, take charge where you can. avoid chronic complainers
    • know when to say “enough”, consider transfer or a different area of practice if necessary.
    [color=#993300]helping others can be the rewarding career it is meant to be.

    burnout and compassion fatique, can be prevented. recognition of your own level of stress and needs for self-care are the first steps to stress reduction and burnout prevention. you must make self-care a priority.

    ironically, beginning signs of burnout can have an unexpected positive influence in your life; if you don’t let it go on too long! these signs can act as a catalyst for you to make a much-needed change. they can be the impetus to move on to different areas of your profession or even more rewarding careers. nurses in search of something more have become entrepreneurs (the writer included). they have discovered other ways of helping others that allow them more satisfaction and financial and personal reward both , and more control over their careers and their lives.

    caretaker take care of yourself !

    by virginia j., phd rn pmh-np
    Last edit by Joe V on May 7, '08
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  3. by   bluefabian
    When I read this article and came upon the word nurse and women together in one article - when the title says something about nurses in general... I thought there was a loss of focus.

    But really, I am a bit disappointed that you have to identify nurses in this article as women in the context of nurturing, caring and stress handling. Don't you think all of us deal with this issues regardless of gender. And to categorize jobs into gender stereotypes is the last thing that I want to read from a nurse, particularly one with a PhD, a nursing educationists I assume... I hope you are not projecting this kind of assumption to your students, particularly nursing students who are male - because I know how it felt last time. I'm sorry to be honest, but I think I am offended by this article.

    Even more so when I think all the good advice that you part with can be applied to me. But, oh well. I am a man.
  4. by   LPN_mn
    I was never one for taking care of myself. Always to busy taking care of others. I was in a car accident in April and I had to take the time to take care of me. I learned how to take care of myself during that month off of work. It is something I intend to continue even though I am back at work now. I am making a habit of taking 1 day a week to just take care of me. It was hard at first but as time went on it has gotten easier to think of me instead of everyone else. Even my family has learned a few tricks to helping me. It is nice having 1 day a week where I don't have to think about anyone else but myself. At first I felt selfish but now I am enjoying it.
  5. by   essdee
    Yes. Nurse =/= Woman. Re-title this to "Women must learn to take care of themselves."
  6. by   jittybug
    IN RESPONSE TO MR. bluefabian; I understand YOUR FEELINGS . As i read, & understood MS. Virginia j.- article, she meant nurses ( as a whole - man - men = in general,that holds true, with some other profession , which entails, or rather under stress . some of the DO'S & DONT'S might be applicable for them . Just read the context in general point of view ! Just widen your imagination. IMAGINE ALL THE PEOPLE,DOING THESE, MY, WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD TO LIVE BY.... My apologies !!! PLEASE !!!
  7. by   Virginia PMH-NP
    When talk about this some male nurses do seem to be offended, although that is certainly not the intent. As I tried to make clear in the first paragraph I was focusing on the women who make over 90% of the nursing profession now and throughout our history. That is just a fact, (although perhaps not politically correct to mention.) I hope men who read this article can understand that and of course use anything that is helpful to them. By the way I have been practicing in the clinical area all of my career even when teaching.

    I agree many of these points can be made about women in general. However, when you combine the psychology of women with the profession of nursing the dynamic increases significantly!

    Anyway continue to work on your self-care and self-empathy.