My self-care routine is still in the works, mainly because my schedule is all over the place. Being a resident, our pay is significantly less than established nurses, our shifts flip flop between days and nights, and our and minds are overloaded with information. Some weeks we have classes all week and the following week will be all night shifts. This makes it difficult to create and maintain a self-care routine. Additionally, working with a tight budget presents more struggles. But as my residency comes to a close, I have begun prioritizing my self-care routine, regardless of finances and regardless of fatigue level.
What’s the big deal about self-care anyways? Well it is the difference between a long or a short career in nursing. Nurses tend to take care of everyone around them…except themselves. Our work is hard physically, emotionally, and intellectually. Think of an airplane. If the airplane oxygen masks come down, who are you supposed to put the mask on first? YOURSELF. Then the person next to you. Case in point. You can only take care of others to the best of your abilities if you first take care of YOU.
One of the benefits to working night shift is added days to exercise. With it being light out, I am able to work out the day of my first night shift and the day of my last night shift. I have finally established a routine that works for me. I have joined Orange Theory Fitness as a full-time member. I can be in the worst mood, completely unmotivated or unwilling to workout. Then I take class and I feel incredible. If there is a day I cannot make class, I will run on the beach outside of my home. I am now prioritizing exercise as it makes my heart, brain, and body feel incredible. Maybe your thing is yoga! Find whatever works for you and prioritize it!
I am a simple girl. It doesn’t take much pampering to make me feel special. Last month, I began with a pedicure and manicure. Crazy how such a little thing can make you feel so special. I plan to get a manicure and pedicure once a month! For others, maybe a monthly blowout or facial is needed. Whatever it is, start simple and prioritize going at least once a month!
People say a coffee a day adds up. Pshhh whatever! I treat myself to my favorite local coffee spot whenever I want. I am not spending thousands of dollars on clothing, rather $40 a month on a cup of coffee that makes me feel happy. I challenge you to find a little splurge like this. Something that won’t break your bank but also makes you feel special and happy on your days off.
I am fortunate enough to live in sunny Los Angeles. There is so much to do in Southern California that is only a quick drive or boat away. Do a quick day trip. You may be exhausted but it also helps with the relationships closest to you. It is easy to suck others into your exhaustion and negativity. Prioritize getting out in the world, exploring, hiking, and getting dressed up for dinners! Something little like this can make all the difference for yourself and your loved ones.
LIMITING NETFLIX AND CHILL
THIS IS SO HARD! Some days you need to do absolutely nothing. Trust me, I get it. But if you give yourself a full 24 hours of doing nothing, then the next day should be productive. Do your laundry and cleaning on the “nothing” days and enjoy the remaining days off. Reserve the “Netflix and chill” for the evenings after you have gotten outside and enjoyed your day.
TALK TO A FRIEND THAT GETS IT
This one is important. You can’t just talk to anyone about what happens at the hospital. They won’t understand. They may seem like they get it, but the reality is they probably don’t. Make a friend on your unit to vent to. Call up a nursing school friend and let it out. Sometimes the best nursing advice you can get can only come from a nurse.
Be thankful for where you are, what you’re doing, and for who is in your life. I don’t bring my work home. If there is something I need to talk about, I will vent on the car ride home and come home at peace. My work only comes as far as my car ride home. Give yourself credit for how far you have come. Let others know that it wouldn’t have been possible without their love and support. Reflect on the little wins. For me, those mainly revolve around completing tasks safely…maybe not the most efficiently…but safely. This is so important for your psychological self-care.