How do you take care of you? Eight ways nurses can fight negativity at work : Nursing made Incredibly Easy

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Department: Editorial

How do you take care of you? Eight ways nurses can fight negativity at work

Editor(s): Lockhart, Lisa MHA, MSN, RN, NE-BC

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doi: 10.1097/01.NME.0000884116.13818.5c
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The mental health of our nurses and all healthcare workers is crucial. Nurses often speak of feeling overwhelmed and depressed. It's not difficult to see why: Workplace stress can be incredible. Our roles are more varied than most. The combination of physical labor, emotional demands, long hours and odd shifts, lateral violence, and cultural structures in the workplace take a tremendous toll. During the pandemic this has intensified as the media and the politics involved in managing community health reached a fevered pitch.

What can we do to care for ourselves when stress threatens to overtake our sense of control? I want to look at eight simple tasks that can help you fight the feelings of being overwhelmed and vulnerable in the workplace.

  1. Get enough sleep. Taking the time to care for your body is crucial and rest is number one on the list.
  2. Make self-care a priority. Take care of your body and enjoy things that make you feel relaxed and cared for.
  3. Be prepared. Nothing will increase your sense of anxiety, self-doubt, and self-depreciation more than entering a situation unprepared. Get organized and make time to review the information you need to stay ahead.
  4. Work-life balance. This has always been a personal struggle of mine. You are allowed to enjoy your time away from work. Set boundaries and take the vacation time when available. Allow yourself to recharge.
  5. Say no to overtime! I understand you want to do your part; however, remember tip number four.
  6. Be self-aware. People respond differently to stressful situations. What are your internal indicators that you're getting overwhelmed? Do you become irritable, tearful, disorganized, or self-deprecating? Take a few moments to center yourself and your thoughts.
  7. Exercise. Set aside time during your break or after work for some activity that's just for you. This will keep you healthier—physically and mentally.
  8. Maintain trusted friends. You can't underestimate the value of friendship and confidants. Everyone needs someone that they can talk to. Feeling comfortable and letting your frustrations out in a judgment-free environment is crucial. Seeking professional counseling is another healthy way to vent, reframe, and reorganize your thoughts. Most healthcare organizations have programs available for employees free of charge.

The top priorities for resetting are self-awareness and self-care. It really is okay not to be okay. Understand when you're overwhelmed, admit when you're overwhelmed, and take steps to care for yourself. This isn't a sign of weakness but rather a key to true strength and preservation. Stay safe, stay healthy, and be kind to yourself.

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