Self-Care is First Care: Stay in the Game!


A focus on self-care and adopting habits supporting resilience will serve the individual well over time. One cannot effectively care for others when struggling with stress, and dealing with life’s many challenges.

by JudithS (New)

Specializes in Case management, author. Has 41 years experience.

How can I improve MY self-care?

Self-Care is First Care: Stay in the Game!

The stressors and challenges of nursing school are part of life’s realities. Unpredictability and change adaptability, are going to be part of your daily professional and personal life; the coping mechanisms you develop now, will help you flourish in the future. Resilience is the ability to withstand, and function when life sends you a multitude of "curve balls." Being able to knock those "curve balls" out of the park will set you apart from your peers, and keep you in the game for a long time to come.

Nursing school is the grueling practice session before your major league career. There is a lot to learn, new skills to develop, and figuring out how to assimilate it all into a safe long-term practice.  As you hone your skills, no doubt you will find your area of nursing expertise and special interest. Surviving clinical rotations has taken on a new meaning in today’s COVID-19 environment. Your clinical rotation mentors are being pushed to the limits; nurses are being cut, and nursing units being closed. The reality is that you may be working in a highly infectious environment, without all of the traditional clinical rotation mentor supports and guidance. Your "ideal" clinical rotation site may not be available due to safety concerns. Reliance on the assistance and guidance of your faculty has just taken on new meaning. Your faculty members are there for you, reach out to them, as you have never reached out before. Their professional expertise, backing, and direction will help you navigate the facility-related challenges, and provide you with guidance on how to thrive in the "game."

Has the "Game" Gotten You Down?

What do you do when you are tired, stressed, and have no energy? Disconnect from technology; force yourself to do something physical, something that uses a different set of muscles from those that you use during your clinical and work routines. Try yoga, core exercises, swimming, weights, or a run. Spend time outdoors, take a walk, and appreciate nature in your local park.


Music can help your mode, listen to something uplifting or relaxing. If it has been a while since you played an instrument, this may be the perfect time to dust it off and check your skills. Perfect your karaoke skills while in private and marvel at your progress. It is perfectly acceptable to create your own lyrics and have some laughs along the way.

Good Nutrition

This is a key factor in health promotion, we stress it to others, yet do we take our own advice? Have a weekly cooking session and prepare meals for the week, so that food is handy and you do not have to prepare it after a long, grueling shift. Preparing your own meals is also a way to save money, and avoid those "not so great food" temptations. Freeze a few meals for an emergency. Don’t forget the fruits and vegetables to round out the meals and keep cravings to a minimum.

Interact with Others

Promote your own "game" happiness by interacting with others in a meaningful way. These days that is more challenging, yet it can be done. Walk with a friend; pick up the phone, or Zoom, to maintain a real personal connection. List the activities and hobbies that you would love to try, prioritize them, and pick one to start with. Engage in a hobby that brings you joy, try a new hobby, and discover your hidden talents. Personal and professional development can benefit "your game" in many ways. Beyond acquiring a new skill, it positively refocuses your mind; it can connect you with new individuals who share your interest, broadening your social circle. There are free self-paced educational opportunities with remote learning. Many universities have made varied educational opportunities available. Harvard Free Online Courses, Stanford Free Courses, Coursera, and Open Culture aggregates some of them. Life-long learning will help to keep your mind on the “long-term game.”

Change Your "Game" Perspective!

Despite the challenges that you may be experiencing, spend a few minutes each night journaling. Note what went well, what positive surprises you encountered, and what made you smile during the day. Reflect on the unexpected greeting you got, the pleasant weather, and the smile given to you by a patient or coworker. Think about the feelings those friendly acts made you feel. Also, write down what you plan to do differently tomorrow to increase your feelings of joy and happiness. Do a random act of kindness for someone else and yourself.

Self-care is first care!

Judith Sands, RN, MSL, BSN, CPHRM, CPHQ, CCM, ARM has over 30 years of experience as a healthcare professional and is a recognized authority in the areas of quality, risk management, and patient safety. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Florida and her Master of Science in Leadership from Nova Southeastern University. Judith is a registered nurse, holding state and national certifications in case, quality, and risk management. Judith has been a speaker at various local and national conferences. Her current focus is on ensuring patient safety, care coordination, and bringing dignity to end of life care. Judith authored Home Hospice Navigation: The Caregiver's Guide. The only independently produced home hospice resource helping families and caregivers navigate the caregiving journey.

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1 Comment(s)


Specializes in Sm Bus Mgmt, Operations, Planning, HR, Coaching. Has 40 years experience. 2 Articles; 130 Posts

Great perspective!  Thanks for your insight.  I like the "game" reference.  Like most things in life, a little effort put forth goes a long way.