5 Self Care Tips Nurses Need to Look After Their Mental Health

Updated on March 8, 2022

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Nursing is one of the most challenging yet rewarding professions out there. However, while busy saving lives, they often neglect to look after their own health. To be able to do well at nursing, you will need physical energy to carry out your daily tasks, but more importantly, you need to be in a relaxed mental state as well. 

Due to the nature of their job, nurses often tend to get both physically and mentally taxed. It’s easier to look after your physical health as compared to the mental. Nurses will mostly neglect their mental recovery, which is so important for maintaining focus at work. 

Repeated neglect of mental exhaustion and emotional fatigue can lead nurses to develop mood complications or even burnout. 

Burnout is an extremely debilitating state of prolonged mental stress that can affect your emotional as well as the physical health, rendering you incapable of performing to the best of your abilities. 

These are the reasons why nurses need to prioritize their mental health along with performing their duties to look after their patients. 

Below, we will highlight six self-care tips meant for nurses that will improve their mental health.

  1. Prioritize Yourself

The nursing job requires that nurses involve themselves in taking care of the needs of the patients, often at great health cost to the themselves. The key is to strike a balance between the demands of the job and the nurses’ own personal needs for self-care. 

If you want to upskill, then go for that advanced degree that you’ve been trying to get into. But doing something after shift hours might be overwhelming, and you fear that your work might get compromised if you take up studying along with work. 

But that shouldn’t be the case because you can always go for an online nursing degree, which will allow you the flexibility of time and space to pursue the degree of your dreams. So, if you want to get enrolled in a degree like Online RN to BSN Program, know that you can, and you should if you want to be able to advance your career. 

There are many other things a nurse can do, and it depends on individual preferences. Indulge yourself a little, read a book, or watch Netflix for a while. Self-care doesn’t mean you’re selfish.  

  1. Take Regular Breaks from Your Hectic Routines

Nurses are the busy bees of the healthcare system. They’re constantly at work and have no time to spare for anything other than work. But as humans, we need to take breaks from work, or else we can’t maintain focus for long durations. 

Go for a walk, take a deep breath in the fresh air outdoors, get a snack, or sit down for a friendly chat with a colleague. All these little breaks, taken in between grueling intervals of work, can help stave off the dreaded symptoms of burnout and stress. 

You can take longer breaks in the form of work leaves, and go on a vacation for a full body-mind reset. Having a family and a network of supportive of friends is a blessing that nurses can fall back on if life at work becomes too overpowering and taxing. 

If you think that you need and deserve a break, don’t just wait around for the right time, just take it. After all, the uncountable hours of work you put in tending to patients makes you deserving of some time to yourself. 

  1. Ensure You Are Properly Rested

Nurses have hectic and unfixed shift hours, which means that they can’t get used to a set sleeping routine. Nurses who aren’t able to get in their required sleeping time are prone to feeling tired on the job, which might lead them to committing errors in judgement and find it difficult to even provide quality care. 

To ensure that they get adequate sleep, nurses have to maintain a good sleeping routine that makes sure that they’re resting for, at least, 7-9 hours every day. Even if the shift hours spillover into their out-of-work life, it is still important that they hit the sack as soon as they clock out and reach home. Maintaining proper hydration is also a great way to keep your energy levels well-maintained at work. 

  1. Eat Well

When you’re working to provide health care to others, it is important that you practice what you preach to your patients every day, which is to sleep adequately, drink enough water, and eat nutritious and quality meals. 

It comes as a surprise then to find that most nurses are unable to follow their own advice and might be savoring those snacks that they often tell their patients not to indulge in. 

But given the nature of their work, they need to save time, and preparing meals for themselves every day might be a little too time-intensive. If they routinely partake in the junk food served at the café or sink their teeth into those scrumptious but calorie-dense, on-the-go foods served at outdoor joints, then they could be looking at developing some health complications down the line. 

Meal prepping services are an excellent alternative that nurses can use to get their nutrients and energy. Also, nurses can batch cook meals and store them in the fridge for consumption throughout the week.

  1. Start a Physical Activity

Many people underestimate the importance of physical activity. Not only does it help you stay fit, but it is a major energy booster. Exercising releases serotonin and endorphins that help in reducing stress and improves our mental wellbeing. 

It also helps to reduce anxiety and depression. However, even with all these benefits, many people neglect exercise. For nurses, it’s important to perform some sort of physical activity every day. 

They can opt for several different options that can keep them fit. They can choose to do yoga, Pilates, strength training, etc. If finding a proper workout routine is a problem, nurses can always just go for a quick walk/run on the track at their local park. 

It will help maintain their mental sharpness and physical strength. Physical activity done only for a few minutes is still better than doing nothing at all. 

  1. Talk to Someone

Talk to someone close, a friend or a family member, whom you can trust enough to open up to. Nurses can talk to them about their workload and stress. Talking about your stress and anxieties is a sign of strength rather than weakness. 

Work-related stress is common among the nurses because of the manic nature of their work. Anxiety and fatigue are natural extensions of the amount of stress they have to deal with on a daily basis. 

Venting out about your feelings in a safe space provided by a listening and caring friend is nothing short of a blessing for your mental health. Instead of balling everything up inside, which often has an ugly way of coming out, it is better to openly express your feelings. Let them out in front of a friend, lay them out to be examined. 

Final Thoughts

No matter how busy you might get as a nurse, it is always better to prioritize your mental health. If the nurses are constantly exhausted and fatigued, it will lead them to deliver sub-standard care to the patients. Nurses have to ensure that they are exploring opportunities for growth and learning, getting adequate sleep, eating right and drinking water, and that they have a loving and supporting network of friends that looks after them. 

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.