By Liz Scala
I’ve recently put forth a question to all of the nurses I know about their biggest challenge that gets in the way of their self-care. I received many replies and noticed a theme emerge. Nurses responding with things like “I just do not have time to fit in any fun after work” or “I can’t find the time to balance it all.” The common thread was one word: time. Now while I share from my experience, that of being and working with nurses, I would like to bet that many, many of us can relate to the feelings of not having the “time” for ME!
For nurses, time is a challenge to our self-care; with working 12 hour shifts, getting called in to help when there is a call-out, or working weekends/holidays. Nursing is a busy profession and it seems like we are always on the job! I am sure there are others out there who can look at their own line of work, their own professional experiences, and share the experiences I am offering here today. But our own health should not be placed on the back burner to our careers. We can be busy, productive professionals; but not at the expense of our own well-being!
I challenge you to make your self-care your #1 priority. However, in order to do this I’d like to share some tips. These are strategies that I have used and seen work with other nurses. I hope you find these helpful to making more space for yourself!
1. Change your Mind Set. How many of you put other people first? Be honest. We all do. As nurses, we put patients first. Then, we come home and put children and spouses first. I encourage you to start thinking of yourself first. Be selfish. Think of yourself as #1. Make yourself your first priority. Our thoughts become our actions so when you think of yourself as important you will treat yourself in that way.
2. Say No. Another tricky one for nurses; we want to help everyone. But if we keep saying “yes” to every request our plate will fill up leaving no room for ourselves. Get a buddy or call a trusted family member and practice saying “no” to people. If you are too busy taking care of everyone else and giving in to everyone else’s needs you will surely burn out quickly and be unable to be productive in anything you do!
3. Get Organized. Get a planner. And if you have a planner; buy a special pen that is just for your self-care activities. Schedule yourself in. Write your work-out time down. Put in your relaxation time onto your calendar. That way when someone comes to you asking for help, you already have “an appointment” (with yourself) and you do not even have to worry about feeling awkward saying “no.”
4. Prioritize. Follow your energy for your “to-do” list. Do the things that you enjoy first. Tackle the tasks that use your strengths. By doing things you enjoy you will waste less time procrastinating with the things you really do not feel like doing. Look at your “to-do” list and start with the things that give you joy. You will notice yourself getting things done much faster that way!
5. Cut Out Distractions. I love this one (although I am still working on it!). How much time do you waste surfing the web? What amount of time do you sit watching reality TV? Try this experiment: carry a stop watch with you and measure how much “useless activity” you spend your time in. I bet if you cut out all that time spent on Facebook or Twitter you would have hours of time to spend on your own self-care.
6. Slow Down. What is “time” really? They say the past is over, the future has not come, but the present is a gift. Live in the now. Avoid rushing from one thing to the next, or worse yet, multi-tasking. Focus on what you are doing in the moment. By doing this you will free up a lot of your time as you will get things done more efficiently and effectively. And quit saying, “I have no time for that” because how you are using your time will surely free up space for yourself.
7. Breathe. Spend 5 minutes each day just sitting quietly, with eyes closed, back straight, watching your breathing. Focus on the inhalation and exhalation fully. Do this each day and you will feel clearer and more focused. Creating a settled, quiet mind will create more calm. Peace of mind will bring time for you.
I welcome any comments or questions that this article brings up. Please contact me if you have any thoughts on this topic as it interests me greatly! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out my free monthly wellness workshops at http://livingsublimewellness.com/supportive-calls.