1. We think self-care is selfish (and nurses are NOT selfish)

Why? Because we somehow have his idea that if we invest time in ourselves we are depriving someone else and that is selfish. For those of you who are nurses and parents…you have extra frosting on your cake. There is is much parent shaming and guilt around taking precious time away from your children to care of yourself. There is so much pressure to be “the perfect pinterest parent” and if you aren’t, there are plenty of people waiting in line to shame you about how you are screwing up your kids by not creating the perfect birthday party or letting them watch TV while you take a nap. Let’s reframe this whole “self-care is selfish” idea. What if we look at not taking care of ourselves as self-sabotage? Think about it. When you choose to skip exercising, let yourself get sleep deprived, and then compensate by eating comfort food instead of food that actually nourishes your body, what result do you get? I’m willing to bet you are showing up in your life depleted, irritable, and find yourself wondering how the F-bomb you are going to make it through the day. Do you want to just exist in a perpetually depleted state or do you want to have the energy to enjoy this life?

2. It is the culture of the Nursing profession to put ourselves last.

If you aren’t immediately agreeing with this one, think about this: when you wake up for work and you have a fever and feel like a train ran you over in the middle of the night, what thoughts immediately go through your head?

  • How short staffed are we today?
  • If I call in sick will I get in trouble for having too many sick calls in a revolving year?
  • Am I really “that sick”?
  • Should I go to work and save this sick call for when one of my kids get sick?
  • Should I scramble and try to find last minute coverage for my shift?
  • Ibuprofen will fix the 101 fever and the body aches. I can suck it up and wear a mask for the next 12 hours.
  • Am I going to get a guilt trip if I call in sick?

Notice how not a single one of the things that go through our heads when we are sick have anything to do with what WE NEED?? You are freaking sick! What would you tell your patient? Your friend? Your child? You would tell them to stay home, take care of themselves, rest, stay hydrated, take ibuprofen and tylenol, wash their hands so no one else get sick, and to get better!  

3. We view basic self-care as a luxury, not a necessity.

When I say “self-care”, I’m not talking about spa days, shopping sprees, and endless sushi dates with your besties. I’m talking about the things that you do for yourself on a daily basis that boost your health, your energy, and your self-esteem. The human body has basic needs for sleep, nutrients, and exercise to function optimally. It is a fact that not giving your body these things will leave you feeling, tired, foggy, irritable, and craving something besides coffee. If you aren’t investing your time in a daily self care routine, what are you doing instead? Taking care of your basic needs is an easy thing to do. It is also an easy thing NOT to do. Either way you are creating a result. Do you want to continue just existing in the exhausted fog or do you want to LIVE?

4. We expect others to take care of us.

And why shouldn’t we? We are nurses. We have dedicated our profession to helping others. Don’t we deserve to be cared for? The answer is yes, we absolutely do. We deserve to GIVE OURSELVES the same compassionate care that we give others. Did you catch that? WE DESERVE OUR OWN CARE! When we put our health, happiness, and well-being into the hands of another and expect that they will take care of us, we are setting ourselves up for a continuous expectation hangover. There is no way anyone else can possibly know how to best care for you. You are the expert on what you need. Even if someone else tried to take care of you, they probably “wouldn’t do it right” anyway! Honestly, there is nothing like the care a nurse gives and there is no way anyone else’s attempt would measure up to the care that you can give to yourself.

5.We don’t think we are worth it.

I’ll let that sink in for a minute…..we don;t think we are wort it.Your self care actions speak to your self worth and to the degree in which you make your physical, mental, and emotional health a priority. What will it take for you to make yourself care a priority? When will you be worth it? When you get diagnosed with cancer? When you get into a horrible car accident? When you make a life-threatening mistake that alters a patient’s life and puts your license on the line? Or is it enough right here and right now? If actions speak, what is your self care routine saying?  We all MAKE time for the things that are important to us. We all have the same amount of time and we are all in control of how we choose to use it. Choose to get some exercise every day. Choose foods that nourish your cells and give you energy. Choose to take control of your schedule so that you are getting enough sleep. Choose to invest your time in activities that fill your soul. Choose to have a full cup and to enjoy this life. Choose to give to others from a place where you can afford to give rather than giving up your last ounce and leaving your soul behind.