I worked as a Registered Nurse (RN) in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for several years. Many days I was so busy with my critically ill patients that I didn’t have time to eat lunch, let alone sit down or run to the bathroom.
I had to stay late to catch up on my charting, and sometimes ended up leaving at 9pm only to return 10 hours later for another round. Working 12-15 hour days was hard on my body and hard on my spirit.
By the time I got home I had to eat a very late dinner, fall into bed for a few hours and be ready for another 12+ hour day. Nursing is profession known for burnout because nurses typically work hours like I just described.
Not only does this schedule contribute to physical, mental and emotional burn out it also causes compassion fatigue, and contributes to medication errors and poor decision making.
Healthcare without self-care
— Roshi Joan Halifax
It is a fact that patient care is compromised when RNs are exhausted, yet in many healthcare settings, nurses (and ancillary healthcare staff) are still overworked (understaffed for acuity and/or high Patient:RN ratio) and do not take required breaks during the day.
Self-care as a part of an RN’s day can make a world of difference to that RN and to the patients he/she is caring for, as well as the patient’s family. Five minutes of meditation or breath awareness can make a huge difference!
I am currently training to be an Urban Zen Integrative Therapy practitioner. Urban Zen Integrative Therapy (UZIT) combines yoga therapy (mindful movement, breath awareness meditation and restorative yoga), essential oils, Reiki, and contemplative care to help ease stress and address the symptoms of PANIC ™ (Pain, Anxiety, Nausea, Insomnia, Constipation – and Exhaustion). UZIT is helpful to patients, healthcare workers and families.
Self-care is not self-indulgent. Self-care is the cornerstone of great health-care.
How do you practice self-care? Let us know in the comments, and make sure to share this article with your friends.