Although nurses are trained caregivers, they sometimes forget the importance of self-care. This can lead to errors on the job, fatigue, burnout, health problems and a general disdain for life, which comes at a high cost to both patients and nurses.
Self-care for nurses starts with the awareness of personal needs and then finding ways to take care of them. Both nursing students and working nurses experience many stressors in a usual working day, but with the added pressures of care in today’s environment which only exacerbates the need.
Occupational stressors include the following:
- Advanced care planning.
- Autonomy and informed consent to treatment.
- Increased paperwork.
- Limited resources
- Protecting patients’ rights.
- Reduced managerial support.
- Factors based on role, such as lack of power, role ambiguity and role conflict.
- Staffing patterns.
- Surrogate decision-making.
- Threats to career development and achievement.
- Unpredictable and challenging workspaces.
Nursing students deal with academic stress like reviews, heavy workloads and study problems. They may also be dealing with other stresses, such as balancing a job and family obligations with the coursework for their nursing program.
The Cost to Patients
One of many prime factors in caring for others, nurses must be ‘intentionally present’ to be ‘centered and able to use all senses’ at all interactions.”
Overworked, overstretched and overtired NHS staff make mistakes, according to NHS Resolutions, published 11th July, 2019
* The provision for claims indemnified by us has increased by £6.4 billion to £83.4 billion as of 31 March 2019.
* The number of mediations on clinical negligence claims has increased by 119% in a single year, up to 380 from 173 in 2017/18 – exceeding the number of clinical negligence trials (62) more than six-fold.
Sickness absence rate the NHS is higher than in the rest of the economy. NHS staff sickness rates rose from 3.8 percent in April 2018 to 4.1 percent in April 2019. This is the highest level at that time of year in more than a decade and represents more than 1.4 million full-time equivalent (FTE) days lost in that month alone.
Data on the level of sickness absence in the NHS has been published for several years now, but it is only recently that national data has been published on the reasons why NHS staff are absent. This data shows that anxiety, stress, depression and other psychiatric illnesses account for nearly a quarter of the staff absences in April 2019, far outstripping other reasons for absence, 25% and coming in at second place with 10% is musculoskeletal, which has always been a major factor in injuries and illness in caregiving staff. Data from The Kings Fund Blog, by Annabel Copeland, published 7th October, 2019
It shows conclusively that more attention must be paid to the health of the nursing workforce to positively influence the quality of patient care and patient safety and to control costs.
The Cost to Nurses
Musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders can include back pain, neck or arm strains and diseases of the joints. All parts of the workforce can be affected by MSK. It is one of the most common reasons for sickness absence in the NHS.
It accounts for 40 per cent of all sickness absence which in many cases become long-term absences. MSK may be caused by work-related injuries, such as incorrect handling, or not having equipment in the workplace personally adjusted. Prevention and early intervention is key to effectively managing MSK disorders. Data from NHS Employers, part of the NHS Confederation, published 14.1.19
The huge increase seen in the mental health and psychological reasons behind staff absences is something that needs to be taken very seriously as globally the nursing/caring professions are the huge increase seen in the mental health and psychological reasons behind staff absences is something that needs to be taken very seriously as globally the nursing/caring professions are heamorrhaging staff, much faster than we can recruit and train them, thus making volunteers and home-based caregivers carrying more and more of the responsibility and demand, which for many they are not prepared or trained for. While nurses often deal with musculoskeletal pain and depression on a daily basis, they may endure other discomforts as well. Their personal lives and relationships may suffer. They may develop other health problems, or they may just burn out much faster than we can recruit and train them, thus making volunteers and home-based caregivers carrying more and more of the responsibility and demand, which for many they are not prepared or trained for.
While nurses often deal with musculoskeletal pain and depression on a daily basis, they may endure other discomforts as well. Their personal lives and relationships may suffer.
Self-Care for Nurses
Three of the most important suggestions when it comes to self-care are eating a nutritious healthy range of food, exercising regularly and practicing stress-reduction techniques. Sounds simple, but when they are juggling, home, work, family and sleep their own wellbeing comes a long way down the list of important tasks to do.
Getting caregivers to come out of denial and realise they are not superhuman and can get broken, just like everyone is a major problem, no training, support, guidance can take any effect until they are ready and willing to accept it. Reducing their self demands and increasing their self-awareness needs to be part of the basic nursing foundation, if the trend for losing nurses is to be turned around.
Seek the help of a registered nutritionist, or use your own nursing knowledge to develop an eating plan appropriate for you. There is no single regime that works for everyone. Hydration non-alcoholic or carbonated intake is better. Reduction of fast food and high-calorie carbs, which are an easy option as they are easy to get hold of and quick to eat.
The subscribed good practice of all leading guidelines includes 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or some combination of the two. You also need two or more days of strength activities that work all major muscle groups.
Choose exercise activities you enjoy. Not only are you more likely to stick with them but you also avoid the negative effects of forcing yourself to do something you dislike. There are many available options, such as walking, running, swimming, cycling, dancing, yoga, Pilates, team sports, tennis and much more, but not in public places ar the moment, but a lot of these you can do alone or with your family. After a day dashing here and there, often exercise is the last thing you want to do, but there is a huge amount of proof, that enjoyed exercise has a lot of beneficial side effects too, lifts moods, helps sleep and relaxation, dissipates anger and frustration, as well as giving you time to yourself just to clear you head. As well as all the fitness perks as well.
- Breathing exercises.
- Massage or spa therapies.
- Mental imagery or visualization.
- Pet therapy.
- Tai chi or Qigong.
- Writing in a journal.
If you have a family, get them involved. I have put laughter in bold, because I believe it to be one of the most forgotten forms of relaxation, it changes your mood very easily and soothes you spirit easily. Make the most of it.
Other Forms of Self-Care
Socializing at the moment is difficult, but not impossible, Skype, Zoom, call friends and loved ones, make it a regular part of your life to talk to people you love and miss. If you are an introvert who requires solitude, let people know. Choose activities you like, not what others think you should do.
Another practice many people find helpful is gratitude or appreciation practice. Every day, write down a few things about your life that you appreciate. Focusing on the good things can change your perspective and create a sense of gratitude.
Self-care for nurses is not a luxury. It is a necessity for the health and well-being of both nurses and their patients.