7 Ingredients for the Nurse in Need of Self Care

We live in an ever growing, fast paced, and egocentric society.  We are fed this idea of who we should be or how we should live and can easily become unbalanced in the process.  I come from the “becomes easily unbalanced” camp.

I am of the profession of giving.  My happiness comes from caring for the tiniest patients on the planet (premature infants) and their families, helping a friend or family member in need, or even a gesture as simple as holding the door for someone.    I became a nurse out of the innate desire to care for people.

At the same time, it is important to have something left for oneself at the end of the day or we can be of no service to others.  It is easy to forget to care for oneself and this is where life gets tricky.  Here are just a few of my own personal routines that I use to stay balanced and can recommend to anyone that is in need of a little balancing themselves.

  1. Regular massage

The benefits of massage are endless from improved sleep, pain relief, relief of anxiety, depression and headaches to the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain reliever and mood elevator.  Even 30 minutes once a month helps.  I consider it a reward at the end of a few tough shifts.

  1. Epsom salts baths

Magnesium salts or Epsom salts have many uses.  You can find them in your local health food store or pharmacy.  Magnesium is an essential element in the body that affects our heart, bones, nervous system, muscles.  My favorite way to use them is in the form of a bath.  Add 2 cups or about 5 Dl (for my European friends) Epsom Salts with a few drops of your favorite essential oil to a full, warm bath.  Soak for at least 15 minutes and exit revived and refreshed.  Try this after a massage and there you meet bliss.

  1. A regular yoga practice (whatever your yoga is)

It can be an actual yoga practice, going for a walk, swim, or a run.  I can always tell when I have not practiced enough.  I have a trigger point between my shoulder blades that start screaming for a shoulder opener.  Even if I only have 30 minutes that day to practice, I immediately recognize a difference in mood and energy level.

4 Friendship

Friendship is a balance of give and take.  Friends are there to listen when all we need sometimes is to vent and vice versa.  They may not understand the depth of your despair after coming off a long night shift having said goodbye to a little soul that you know will have passed by the time you return.  They don’t have to get it.  It’s just about being there.  Being present.

5 A moment of reflection

It can be anything from a 10-minute meditation, a cup of hot tea, or reading something inspiring.  It is taking a time out.  It’s stopping whatever you are doing for just a brief moment to pause from the craziness, business of life.  I learned this after moving to Sweden.  Their moment of reflection is called fika (coffee break) and it is sacred here.

6   Gardening

Ok, maybe gardening is a bit of an exaggeration.  I live in a city where your garden consists of the flowers that adorn your window sill in the winter and your balcony in the summer.  While I claim to be no expert, there is truly something to be said for watching my orchids thrive in the five years since moving to Sweden.  I bought them in the dead of winter because they brought some light to the long, dark days of Scandinavian winter and  continue to do so today.

7  Love

Unconditional, honest, faithful love.  Some days it’s as simple as a video chat with my four-year-old nephew across the pond.  In our last conversation he concluded that he would buy me a red bike when I come home so that we can bike ride together (warms this auntie’s heart).  Other days it’s hearing my mom or dad’s voice on the other end of the phone.  The conversations (for as far back as I can remember) always begin with my dad greeting me with, “hi sweetheart,” or my mom greeting me with, “hi honey.”  Every day, it’s the sound of the keys at the door as the love and support of my life enters the door with a smile after another day’s work.

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