9 Personal Self Care Goals I Set For Myself as a Nurse

9 Personal Self Care Goals I Set For Myself as a Nurse

As s a nurse I have been exposed to so many stressful situations.  I’ve been cussed at by angry patients (more times then I can count), swung at, kicked, had a full urinal thrown at me, been exposed to, been in the middle of dozens of violent patient situations and take-downs, and been the victim of nurse bullying.

In addition, I see other nurses being treated poorly from patients, family members, doctors and even sometimes other nurses.  In fact, it’s not even unusual.  And, like other nurses, I am expected to continue giving compassionate patient care without regard to my own well being.

This sacrificial attitude of putting myself last on a very long spectrum of compassionate care is just not going to cut it anymore.  The thought of spending an entire career with this amount of wear-and-tear is frightening.  Something has to give before I completely fizzle and burn to a crisp.

Nurses need to have compassion for themselves too.

I came out of nursing school with equal parts compassion and adrenaline to save lives and make a positive difference in the world!   In fact, I left a very lucrative 10 year medical equipment sales career so I could do just that.  I was determined to advocate for and serve my patients to the best of my ability.  Compassion was one of my greatest strengths.

As an overachiever for most of my life I have always maintained the attitude that I can do anything as long as I try hard enough.  And now, after 7 years as a registered nurse, I am discovering that I am failing at the one thing that actually defines a great nurse:  compassion.

The nurse burnout is real.

What I am currently experiencing is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion that is more extreme than anything that I have ever experienced in my adult life.  I started my nursing career with the determination to give amazing patient care and here I am, 7 years later, losing my compassion.

(And just so you know – this has been hard for me to acknowledge because I have been a “yes” person my entire life.)

There is beauty in the breakdown.

My nursing burnout amplified after the birth of my first child in 2015.  Then, it got even worse after my second child in 2018.  In fact, I started writing regularly again out of desperation to find an outlet for the exhaustion and overwhelming fatigue I was feeling as a nurse and new mom.  My goal was to find more effective ways to take better care of myself and make my life a little easier.  And it actually has helped me find a little reprieve.

But most importantly, it has opened my eyes to the fact that I need to make some huge changes in my life.  Most of all, I need to find my compassion again.  But this time I am unapologetically focusing my compassion on myself, first.

So, in light of this discovery I am 100% accepting and honoring these uncomfortable feelings.  I am using them as a catalyst to make changes in my professional and personal life.  My mental and physical pain will be an opportunity for growth and finding self-compassion.

9 Personal Nurse Self Care Goals

I rarely take the time to do nothing and reflect. This is a good year for more of that.

I am on a mission for self-compassion.

You know how when you fly in an airplane, there is the safety warning before take-off?  Passengers are instructed to put the oxygen mask on themselves first, then help others around them.  Because if you pass out from lack of oxygen, you’re not helpful to anyone!

So, here is me putting the oxygen mask on myself first.  Some of the changes I am making are professional and some are personal.  But they are all things I have been wanting to do for a really long time but haven’t because I was thinking about others’ needs before my own.

Here are my new personal nurse self-care and self-compassion goals:

#1. Work two 12 hour shifts a week instead of three

This one is hard for me because it equates to a significant decrease in pay (and I really like money!).  With two toddler age children, child care is our biggest expense (besides housing) and it’s not going away any time soon.  But fortunately, we are in a position to afford it for the time being and I want to use the extra day off to spend more one-on-one time with my adorable babies.

In addition, since most hospital shifts are 12 to 13 hours I don’t get to see my children at all on the days that I work.  I am also staying away from working back-to-back shifts, because I just don’t want to be away from my children for more than one day at a time.

#2.  Work less holidays and as few weekends as possible

After I had children I really hated having to work on holidays.   I have missed so many birthdays, Easters, 4th of Julys, Thanksgivings, Christmas and New Years to be working at the hospital.  At some point I started to resent missing that time with my family.  Working on holidays is the norm for many nurses, and I expect to work some.  But since I will be working a little less anyway this will also equate to working less holidays as well.  Same goes for weekends.

9 Personal Self Care Goals I Set For Myself As A Nurse

Self Care for nurses is more important now than ever.

#3.  Continue working per diem

There are a lot of benefits and drawbacks to being a per diem nurse.  For example, I love that I can schedule myself to work on the exact days I WANT to work.  However, it also means that if I am not needed then I get canceled at 0400 and then I don’t make any money for that day.  And since I end up paying for a nanny regardless, that’s a double whammie.

The best part of being a per diem nurse is that it offers me a much better work-life balance.  When I worked as a career nurse it was almost impossible for me to secure childcare because my work schedule was always changing.  Some weeks I got the schedule I needed and others I didn’t. So on the whole, being a per diem nurse is the right choice for me and my family.

#4.  Continue writing and growing my website to help other nurse moms

In 2016 I became a nurse blogger.   My venture was born out of my frustration with burnout as a registered nurse and my desire to create a more flexible work-life balance.  Writing about nurse lifestyle topics that interest me and exploring ways that nurses can take better care of themselves helps me to take care of myself better too.

My little blog is even starting to make a small monthly income, which absolutely thrills me.  I have a dream that if I keep working hard my website will make enough money that I can work one day a week instead of two.

#5.  Take a comprehensive course in website management and blogging

Last week I signed up for a comprehensive blogging course that will probably take me the next 6-8 months to complete.  I honestly haven’t been more excited to do something for myself like this in a really long time.  In fact, I can’t wait to see my progress over the next year!

#6.  Explore other medical related career options

A few weeks ago I interviewed for an aesthetic sales position.  Although I didn’t end up working for the company, it did open my eyes to the fact that there are so many other great opportunities that I could be interested in and also fit my skill set as a nurse.  A nursing practice can take many forms and I am giving myself permission to continue learning about other nursing career options.

#7.  Focus more energy into my family and friends

One of my New Years resolutions this year was to “choose fun.”  So many studies have shown that spending quality time with family and friends is incredibly helpful in decreasing stress and improving burnout symptoms.  Since I will be working a little less I will have more time to focus my energy on the people who matter most to me.

#8.  Enjoy my new fancy gym membership (with childcare on site!)

In the spirit of investing more in myself, I started 2019 off with a gym membership.  It has been a complete game changer for me.  In fact, the old me would never have never splurged on a fancy gym membership. Making regular time to work out always makes me feel great, clears my head and gives me more stamina.  And my 1 year old loves the Kid’s Club, so its a win-win.

As a nurse and mom my life basically revolves around caring for everyone else, and I am SO GRATEFUL to be able to do that.  But if there is one thing I have learned through my own compassion fatigue it is that I need to put the same care into myself as I do into my patients and family.  So in the spirit of self-compassion, I am metaphorically putting on my oxygen mask first, before helping those around me.

#9.  Practice more yoga

I have been regularly practicing yoga for 14 years.  Finally, in 2o15 I completed Yoga Works’s 4 month Urban Zen Integrative Therapy program for medical professionals.  I learned how to teach simple yoga, do guided meditation and perform Reiki.  It was amazing!

However, in recent years I have not been practicing as much as I would like, and that is going to change.  My goal is to incorporate yoga into my busy schedule every single day. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes.  Yoga helps me stay balanced in times of great stress, gives me flexibility (both physically and mentally) and has been extremely grounding.  In fact, I recently started teaching my 3 year old daughter a series of yoga poses and it is bringing us both great joy!

9 Personal Nurse Self Care Goals

These two are already happy about self-care goal #1:  Work two 12 hour shifts a week instead of three.  Job flexibility has never been so important to me.

In conclusion….

Nurse self care matters.  If we don’t care for ourselves then how can we expect patients to listen to our health advice and education.  I am taking this opportunity to give myself compassion and hopefully lead others by example.

If other nurses find themselves feeling as unappreciated and burnt out as me I encourage them to find ways to care for themselves first.  Otherwise, we are perpetuating a broken system that does not acknowledge that nursing burnout is a real issue and ignoring nurse health and well being.

So nurse, what are you going to do to take care of yourself today? Leave a comment!

Additional Recommended Reading:

P.S.  HEY NURSES!  Sign up for our newsletter below and get a FREEBIE on us!  

The Single Best Financial Advice For Nurses

The Single Best Financial Advice For Nurses

*This post about financial planning for nurses contains affiliate links.  You can find my disclosure page here

Nurses work hard for the money. But they need to be saving more of it.  Unquestionably, this is the best financial advice for nurses today.

During my first few tumultuous weeks as a new grad nurse, a mentor with over 20 years of nursing experience gave me some invaluable advice,  “Save your money now,” she said.  “Pay off your school loans and automate your savings so you don’t even see it. “As a second career nurse I already had a decent 401k from a prior career selling medical equipment, but it was great advice that I needed to be reminded of now that I was beginning my new career as an RN. 

Over the years I have found that nurses are very good at worrying about the health and well-being of others, before their own.  Our financial health needs to be given as much attention as we devote to our patients.

Everything in nursing is evidence-based.  Are nurses ignoring the evidence that compounding interest is the secret to growing wealth slowly and ensuring their financial health into their golden years.

Piggy Bank sitting on pile of cash

The best financial advice for nurses is to start start saving more money for retirement at a younger age.

Are nurses making what they are worth?

Many nurses choose the profession because they are passionate about patient care and they want to make a positive impact in the world – not because they are trying to become millionaires.  But nurses still deserve to make a decent living and have the ability to afford a decent retirement savings by the time 70 rolls around. Unfortunately, many nurses are deferring retirement because they simply cannot afford it.

Recently, someone said to me that they thought nurses made too much money.  My jaw practically hit the floor.  “Too much?”  I must have heard that wrong.  Is it possible that what he actually meant was “too little?”  Nope. I heard it right the first time.

So I asked “how much is your life worth?”  As an emergency room nurse I work with the most kick-ass, life-saving nurses out there.  In fact, all the nurses at my hospital are breaking their backs to help people.  Yet despite our sacrifices we are increasingly underappreciated for the hard work we do.  (By the way, he never told me how much he thought his life was worth.  He just kept insisting that we are so overpaid for the work we do).

What is the future of nursing going to look like?

I live in California where we still are fortunate enough to have this thing called “safe patient ratios.”  And we still have a nursing union, so I consider myself luckier than many nurses.  I hear the nursing conditions in some states are deplorable.  (Although due to a recent vote in the Supreme Court, both our union and safe patient ratios may be in jeopardy of going away here some day as well).

In light of this and other new developments, I foresee a few changes within my workplace and the nursing field that may negatively effect my working conditions.  Healthcare is a business in the United States.  Nurses are in the business of saving human lives while our hospitals are in the business of saving money.  What profession do you think will be the first to take a pay cut?

Is the wear-and-tear of nursing worth it?

Not to keep harping on the bad, but while I’m at it there’s this: I worry about how long I can physically be a hospital nurse before I hurt myself.  I have been a nurse for 7 years and I am already experiencing chronic back pain. 

Many hospitals are failing to protect nursing staff from becoming patientsAnd studies are showing that proper technique when moving patients still exposes nurses spines to dangerous forces.  In light of these concerns, I am exploring other ways I can continue to practice nursing outside of the hospital setting.

Nurse, save your money now.

I am saving and investing as much money as I can with each paycheck.  It is the wise thing to do and, frankly, who knows how long I will be able to work.  Besides, there will always be employers out there who want to pay nurses less than we deserve.  We cant just keep taking care of everybody else’s needs at the detriment of our own financial well-being.

If you are not already, save as much as you can now and make your savings automatic.  This is singularly the best financial advice for nurses. Your future self will thank you for it.  

Please leave a comment below.  We love hearing from our readers!

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Nurses Nurturing Nurses Interview With Jessica Smith, RN

Nurses Nurturing Nurses Interview With Jessica Smith, RN

In case you missed it, last week I was interviewed by the amazing Nurse Coach Jessica Smith and we talked about bouncing back from burnout.

Well, guess what?  I got ANOTHER chance to talk with Jessica this week about a topic that is near and dear to my heart:  nurses nurturing nurses!  (I had so much fun the first time, what can I say?!)

Our ‘Nurses Nurturing Nurses‘YouTube interview can be found HERE!

During the interview, we discussed:

  • Strategies you can use to attain a work-life balance with a busy nursing schedule;
  • How you can design your life around how you want to feel;
  • How doing simple things each day can make a BIG impact on your overall health and well-being;

I’d love for you to listen in – and even better – leave a comment!

Again, the link to listen in can be found here!

Take care,

Sarah

Additional Recommended Reading:
7 Ways To Beat Nurse Burnout
Nurse Burnout:  How Administration Can Help
How To Achieve A Work-Life Balance As A Nurse
Nurse Health:  Self- Care For 12 Hours Shifts

Bouncing Back From Burnout Interview With Jessica Smith, RN

Bouncing Back From Burnout Interview With Jessica Smith, RN

Nurse burnout sucks.  I’ve totally been there. 

So, it may seem odd at first to hear that I also LOVE talking about nurse burnout. In fact, I think every nurse experiences burnout at some point in their career (if you haven’t please email me back and let me know your secret!). 

Here’s the kicker.  Once you admit you have an issue with nursing burnout you open yourself to the idea of potential solutions.  But if you just pull your hoodie over your eyes and continue to suffer in silence then nothing ever changes.  And your burnout gets even worse.

So, let’s talk about solutions for nurse burnout!  (Solving problems is always better than complaining anyway). 

Bouncing back from nurse burnout
Last week I had an amazing opportunity to interview with nurse coach and fellow ER nurse, Jessica Smith about bouncing back from burnout!

Our Bouncing Back From Burnout YouTube interview can be found here

During the interview, we discussed:

  • How you can find a work-life balance with a busy nursing schedule;
  • Why nurses need to make their own health a #1 priority;
  • How getting to the “why” in your burnout can help you find patterns that contribute to your burnout;
  • And why you should always surround yourself with positive support!

I’d love for you to listen in – and even better – leave a comment or share it with your fellow nurse friends!  

Again, the link to listen in can be found here!

I can’t wait for you to check it out!

P.S.  If you are a nurse struggling with finding ways to take better care of yourself, here is a FREE E-BOOK .  It’s called Nurse, Take Care Of Yourself First.  Because nurses work really, really hard.  And we need to be taking better care of ourselves.  It includes tips for nurses on how to stay healthy during 12 hour shifts, ideas for better self care at home and suggestions for finding a better work-life balance.  

Additional Recommended Reading:

7 Ways To Beat Nurse Burnout
Nurse Burnout:  How Administration Can Help
How To Achieve A Work-Life Balance As A Nurse
Nurse Health:  Self- Care For 12 Hours Shift

Travel Nurses Need Yoga To Stay Healthy!

Travel Nurses Need Yoga To Stay Healthy!

If you know anything about me at all, you know that I absolutely LOVE yoga (its a little obsessive actually).

And as you also know, I really love to write about how to help nurses take better care of themselves.

Which is why I was so excited to write a guest post for a travel nursing blog titled 3 Very Important Reasons Why Travel Nurses Need Yoga.  (Please check it out here!).

Travel nurses have a lot on their plate!  They take travel assignments in cities where they’ve never even been and then work in different units with entirely new staff.   And then when they finally think they have everything figured out their assignment ends and they go someplace else!

On top of that they also have the physical and mental stress that comes with working 12 hours shifts.

Travel nurses need yoga.

By taking care of ourselves we are able to replenish our reserves and take better care of our patients and families.  There is an endless amount of studies on yoga and its amazing benefits on physical and mental health.

As nurses, we need to practice what we preach and help lead our patients by example.  Why should our patients take better care of themselves both physically and mentally if we are not doing it ourselves?

My Yoga Props Essentials:

Gaiam Yoga Mat 

I love this mat because it doesn’t get slippery once I start getting sweaty during a yoga practice.  It is a thicker, more durable mat with a great chakra design.

Yoga Blocks

Cork yoga blocks are the best.  I love these blocks because they are durable and have a really good grip.  They can assist with alignment and help you get deeper into many yoga poses.

Yoga Bolster

These are amazing for restorative chest opening poses!  I have 2 of these in blue and purple.  I use them all the time to help me wind down after nursing shifts.  I also love using the booster to put my hips and legs up the wall after being on my feet for a twelve hour shift!