5 Self-Care Tips for Nurses

March 16, 2017

Nursing is a difficult career. It involves long hours, a lot of emotions, aches, pains, and time away from family. Nurses are compassionate caretakers and tend to put themselves last after their job, patients, and loved ones. Along with night shifts, lots of coffee, and dirty scrubs, nurses should take some time for themselves in order to keep themselves happy and healthy. It can be so easy to forget to practice self-care when your job involves you caring for others. For the nurses on the front lines of healthcare, it’s important to allow themselves to be cared for while caring for others.

Emotional Support

When you work in medicine, you run the risk of working with patients that may or may not live through their diagnosis. It’s not always the flu or a stomach ache that nurses treat, sometimes it’s the final stages of cancer or trauma caused by an accident. Sometimes patients make it, sometimes they don’t. This is so emotional for nurses no matter how removed they are from their patient, or how long they’ve been working in the field. Emotional support is essential for not only nurses, but for others in this profession like doctors, various types of medical assistants, paramedics, etc. Practice self-care by talking with fellow nurses, confiding in friends, or speaking with a professional. On the hard days it’s so important to find someone to talk to so that these emotions don’t become overwhelming. Journaling, calling a parent, or communicating with family are all important aspects to finding emotional support.

Regular Checkups

You’d think those in the medical field would be on top of their own health, but this can sometimes be the opposite of the truth. It’s important for nurses to keep track of their own health and not just those around them. Simple pains and aches can sometimes be symptoms of something more severe, so it’s important to keep an eye on those things. Even something as common as persistent heartburn can mean the symptoms of something more serious. Exhaustion, headaches, and stomach aches are also relatively common issues that shouldn’t just be looked over if it’s persistent – the point being that nurses are sensitive to the medical needs of others but tend to overlook their own.  It’s important for the loved ones of nurses to pay attention to their health and it’s important for nurses to have regular medical checkups and not to overlook small symptoms that could mean something more.

Eating Right

Nursing is a fast paced job and many nurses don’t have the time during their shift to sit down, let alone eat something, let alone eat something healthy. Eating is all about speed and convenience during a crazy shift which can happen more for nurses than for many other positions. However, it’s still important to keep an eye on. Remember to pack a lunch instead of relying on your building for food. Bring snacks, something you can grab quickly while filling out paperwork. Think foods with color in order to make sure you’re eating something healthy: blueberries, broccoli, carrots, or cherries. With a position that requires you to be on your feet, lift patients, and work quickly it is so important to stay healthy. Food is your fuel and nurses need to make a conscious effort in keeping their bodies healthy.

Time for Yourself

The key is balance. With so much time spent at work and with patients, many nurses spend all of their free time with their family and friends. However, this doesn’t leave any time for themselves. Family time is important as well, but there’s nothing wrong with taking some time alone. It doesn’t have to be an entire day it can be a bubble bath, a walk around the neighborhood, a pedicure, an hour of Netflix under a fuzzy blanket. It’s important to find the thing that is calming and brings you joy. Things like yoga or meditation can be great assets to nurses that experience a lot of turmoil and chaos in their daily lives. The point is to find something to do that’s just for you.

Comfort is Key

Nursing can be painful enough as it is with many nurses having chronic issues with back pain, foot pain, and various other aches and pains. Being on their feet, lifting patients, and performing other physical tasks throughout their shift is the reason for common physical issues. For this reason it’s important for nurses to focus on their own comfort. Shoes that focus on arch support, comfortable scrubs, lotion for dry hands, and a comfortable mattress are all little things that can be a big help to the physical pain felt at such a demanding job. Nurses do so much for others, and they deserve a little treat and that treat can take the form of a new pair of scrubs or a nice pair of shoes every once in a while.


Nurses are amazing people that are passionate about what they do and live to help others. They know how to take care of everyone around them, but sometimes forget to practice self-care as well. Seeking emotional support, getting regular checkups, eating healthy, taking time for yourself and making sure you are comfortable are all key elements to self-care in the nursing world. It’s really hard to give the best care for patients when you aren’t taking care of yourself, so grab a granola bar and take a break with a nurse to talk about your day. A little bit of self-care can go a long way.

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