Take care of yourself too

For up to 12 hours of any given working day, nurses earn their daily bread by offering exceptional care to others. But outside of working hours, the majority of nurses are also caring for family, friends and some even find the time to offer additional services in their communities.

Nurses are particularly prone to burn-out, but most especially, the holidays can become exceptionally stressful because of family needs, societal expectations and pressure to pick up extra shifts. We all need a little time to ourselves to kick back and relax…..without guilt. How do we do that?

What self-care isn’t

Self-care is not a selfish act that involves the exclusion and disregard of everything and everybody else  except yourself.

What self-care is

Self-care is balancing emotional, physical, spiritual, mental and societal needs in a way that promotes health and healing for one-self especially in the midst of turmoil.

Here are 5 tips to help you find balance and care for yourself throughout the holidays this year.

1. Emotional – Monitor your stress level.

Make a mental note, or if you can, jot down your stress level in a journal at various times during the day. Take note of the situation you are in when feeling stressed. Is it around certain people? Or engaging in specific activities? Have a list of activities you can engage in to relax for a few minutes, such as mindful breathing exercises in a quiet place, taking a walk for a spot of fresh air, doing a few minutes of yoga on your break, or watching a favourite TV show or movie when you get home from work, shopping or stressful activities.

2. Physical – Take care of your physical health. 

Ensure adequate sleep and a nutritious diet (not always easy during the holidays , we know!)  Develop a plan to enjoy the special foods and treats around the holidays, while balancing them with healthy eating. Don’t get to the point where you would kill for a simple salad.

3. Spiritual – Practice gratitude for the people and events in your life. 

This might include writing in a journal about what you appreciate in your life, or letting others know the gratitude you feel for them and the joy they bring to your life.

4. Mental – Try to understand why you might be experiencing negative emotions.

For some people, negative emotions might be related to unrealistic expectations or goals of themselves around the holidays, or from feeling overwhelmed. Readjust your holiday goals so they are specific and attainable.

5. Societal – Try to strategize and manage the expectations of others in your social circle.

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa  or engage in any other high days or holidays at this time of year, you can’t miss the traditions and celebrations of the season. They are everywhere you look.  If you choose to join in the celebrations, remember that the first Christmas was a simple affair, yours can be too.

So, enjoy the holidays and remember to take time to care for your own needs and emotions. Remember, as the flight attendants say as part of their safety preparations, you need to put on your own oxygen mask first before helping others. This simple strategy may help you more fully appreciate and find meaning this holiday season. (Adapted from   “Prioritizing The “Me” In Merry: Self-Care Strategies For This Holiday Season” David R. Topor PhD, MS-HP Ed. Harvard |health)