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Bringing self-care into your life 24-7

Bringing Self-Care Into Your Life 24/7
Photo: Beating Stress & Burnout
By Lauren Bell

Have you ever left a pot of water on the stove to boil, and it burned dry? I have felt that way, and I bet you have too.

We are constantly understaffed, overworked, and required to stay late, pick up shifts, and do more in our work.

The healthcare industry banks on appealing to our ‘be good, do good, caring for others’ nature. And the staff are overwhelmed and exhausted.

Burnout levels are at an all-time high. Even before the pandemic, burnout rates for nurses were between 40-60% (even cited up to 78% in some publications).

And it does not matter which specialty area of nursing is involved. From intensive care to aged care to community care, nurses across the board are feeling the effects.

But, as nurses, we don’t readily speak about our feelings. We soldier on, put on a brave face and take it in our stride.
Maybe we are not fully aware of how we are feeling or that of our colleagues. Probably we haven’t had time to reflect. Or perhaps we would turn a blind eye (or be like the ostrich with its head in the sand). There is a fear that if we explore our feelings, we will go down a rabbit hole and never come out.

But do stop and think about your nursing work and all the things you take for granted, the difficult things seen and dealt with every day. Combine that with staff shortages, lack of resources, time, issues with skill mix, lack of training, supervision and debriefing.

Do you acknowledge how much stress, distress, anxiety, overwhelm or moral conflict is present in our work?

We don’t recognise the stress we are under nor that of our colleagues.

And unfortunately, this contributes to communication violence, workplace or horizontal violence and bullying.
 
Elaina Mullery’s Journey

I spoke with my friend and colleague Elaina Mullery, a registered nurse and founder of the Happy Nurse Podcast. Elaina shares her passion for self-care and preventing burnout.

Elaina and I have experienced stress and burnout, and we collaborate to bring this information to our colleagues through our coaching and workshops.

We intend to raise awareness of these issues as nurses and help you know and embrace your self-care.

Self-care is never selfish.

Five Aspects of Self-Care

Self-care is topical, especially now. And yet, it can be perceived as boring and associated with being selfish.

So what is self-care really, and how do we do it so that it doesn’t feel boring, selfish or selfless? Because self-care is neither of these.

Elaina shares with us her model of self-care, which breaks self-care into five aspects. And here are some examples of how each element may look.

Mental

  • Taking a break from work
  • Taking a break from the news
  • Mindfulness
     
Emotional

  • Letting yourself feel your emotions
  • Journaling your emotions
  • Seeking a supportive ear from a friend, therapist.
     
Physical

  • Going for a walk or a run
  • Moving your body in joyful movements such as dancing.
     
Spiritual

  • Practising gratitude
  • Meditation
  • Prayer
     
Indulgent

  • Indulgent self-care is usually associated with holidays, bubble baths or massages. And although these fall under indulgent self-care, even the simple things like enjoying a cup of tea, sitting out in the sunshine or losing yourself in a good book are ways to fill your cup.

By looking at each different aspect, you can ensure that you are keeping your cup full. It’s different for each person because we all have our likes and dislikes. Additionally, what we needed yesterday to fill our cup may be different from what we need today.

Self-care can be as quick as five or ten minutes. It doesn’t have to take up so much of your time or break your wallet. Simple things like taking time out to daydream, walking in nature or picking flowers from your garden are all great ways to fill your cup.

By knowing yourself, you get to understand what it is you need to fill your cup.

Self-Care 24/7

Self-care 24/7 is from International Self-Care Day celebrated every 24th of July to connote taking care of yourself 24/7. However, can we practise self-care every hour of the day?

Boundaries are a huge part of having self-care 24/7. Knowing how far you will allow your boundaries to be pushed before you respond or fight back is part of taking care of yourself 24/7.

At work, it’s the simple things that count. These include taking your breaks, making sure you’re hydrated, speaking up when needed and knowing that you are valuable.

It’s Okay to Say NO

As nurses, we often stretch ourselves too thin to help others. We already have so much on our plate, yet we say yes to that extra shift or that extra set of tasks. And we stubbornly refuse help that’s offered or perhaps feel intimidated to ask for help.

When we do this, we neglect our self-care and thus, can’t show up as our best selves for those who need us.

It’s no good if we are a push-over. Saying yes when you want to say no is not only bad for you but the people around you.

We have loved ones at home and family members waiting on us. We don’t want to come home irritable, grumpy and tired, yet that is what we do.

We want to go home to our families with energy to enjoy their company. We have nothing left to give our family when we don't have clear boundaries and honour them at work.

So you can see that saying NO is essential for our family andourselves.

Bottling Up Our Emotions

When we allow our emotions to rise, they generally only last for 90 seconds. Within this short time, it’s essential to allow ourselves to feel the feelings. To feel them in our body, not to escape into our thinking, because doing that is avoidance, doesn’t help and prolongs the pain.

However, as early as childhood, we were told not to cry. Our parents would “shush” us when we started crying and told us to calm down and behave if we were angry. We were taught not to show our emotions.

We feel like we can’t express our genuine emotions, and they become stuck inside us. Eventually, the pressure becomes too much, and it all comes spilling out. And usually, this happens at the most inopportune times.

Therefore, it’s vital to allow the process of those emotions. E-motion just means energy in motion. They need expression, not repression. It’s allowing those 90 seconds to let them out so that we don’t bottle them up.

There is wisdom in the saying, ‘feeling is healing .’

Self-Care is Different for Everyone

When was the last time you felt energised?

Finding what brings you joy and lights you up is not a one-size-fits-all. Self-care is doing what you love and not what you think you should love. It’s not about what society tells you to do to be happy.

We buy into all these societal beliefs of what we should be doing. Because of this, we can lose ourselves in them.

Self-Care is Never Selfish

Self-care is never selfish, nor is it selfless. Self-care is being self-full and is something that we need to prioritise 24/7.

Want to know more?

Come and join Elaina and Lauren in their ‘Unleash Your Happy Nurse!’ Professional Workshop.

Release stress, avoid burnout and feel more valued.

Online, 25th November 2021.

6.5 CPD hours

For more information and to register head to: bit.do/BSAB2021

About Elaina Mullery

Elaina Mullery RN. Founder and host of “The Happy Nurse” podcast.

Elaina has over 20 years of clinical nursing experience as well as being trained in Mindfulness, Meditation, Hypnotherapy, and Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Having burned out a couple of times herself, she is passionate about promoting effective self-care strategies to her Nursing colleagues.  She is on a mission to reduce Nurse burnout.

About Lauren Bell

Lauren is a wellness & wealth coach, thought leader, international speaker and author.

An RN for over 30 years and 16 years as a holistic therapist, Lauren knows firsthand what it is like to burnout. Through her journey from rock bottom to soaring free Lauren now delivers high impact transformational coaching that empowers caring professionals to feel confident and claim their true value, and allow, attract and enjoy wellness and wealth in her ‘Love Your Extraordinary Life’ workshops and programs.

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