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Self-Care for Nurses: 21 Ideas to Try Today

Self-Care for Nurses | Vagabond RN

The Importance of Self-Care for Nurses: A Complex Profession

 Haven’t you heard that you can’t pour from an empty cup? Nursing is a complex profession that challenges us physically, mentally, and emotionally. When you go home after a long day, you try and leave work at work. A part of you stills lingers on the questions “Did I remember to do everything?” and “Did I do the best that I could for that person?”.  We are responsible for human lives and that is an immense stressor.  Subsequently, self-care for nurses is an essential strategy to save our profession.  Below are 21 ideas to prevent compassion fatigue and burn-out.

Self-Care for Nurses:  21 Ideas to Try Today

1. Go outside. Hike. Climb a tree.  Whatever gets you out of the house and into the sun.

2. Travel.  If you are too broke to travel, fantasize about it.  Half the fun of traveling is the planning and anticipation!

3. Exercise.

4. Eat well.  Even though you know the Chik-Fil-A is amazing, you will have more energy when you fuel your body with the right food.

5. Read.

6. Create.  Knit, draw, color, paint, write. Whatever gets your juices flowing.

7. Treat yourself.  To the spa.  Or if your broke, make your significant other or friend give you a massage.  Buy a $3 face mask. At least get your hair cut once in awhile, Raggedy Anne.

8. Relax in the quiet of your home and just BE.  Don’t reminisce or think about the future.  Practice mindfulness and what makes today worth living.  A fuzzy blanket, a Woodwick candle, and favorite beverage/snack are highly recommended.

9. Cats. Ever heard of a cat café? You can drink coffee and play with cats. It’s therapeutic

10. Volunteer. Give a stranger with a broken down car $20.  Give someone unsolicited advice.  Volunteer for your favorite charity.  Did you know you can help grant wishes for Make-a-Wish? Best job ever!

11. Brag on Facebook about you volunteer activities.  Brag about how awesome your life is overall, as well. Just kidding!

12. Spend time with family and friends.  Or Snapchat pictures of your mundane life to annoy them.

13. Listen to music.  I enjoy making a playlist for every major and minor event in my life.  Yes, I am eccentric.

14. Steak, wine, and icecream.

15. Reexamine and restructure your budget and financial goals.  (Maybe this one just works for me?) Ahhh…I find it so relaxing.

16. Shopping.  But for things that you truly need but for some reason never buy.  Like socks and underwear.  Real groceries, even.  Go crazy.  You won’t regret this type of shopping spree.

17. Have sex. (Sweet baby Jesus, this blog is ultra racy! Cue sweaty palms.)

18. Laugh. Go see a comedian. Yes, even open mic night.  Go see a funny movie.  Make fun of your husband’s new fat roll. Don’t’ you know nurses have a dark, twisted sense of humor.

19. Deep breathing exercises.  While frying bacon.

20. Remember what you have to be grateful for.  Write out a list if it helps you to have a visual.

21. Advocate for appropriate staffing at work. Do not accept a culture of “no lunch break”. Do not accept a culture of bullying. Stand up for yourself and each other.  Advocate for EAP (Employee Assistance Programs) and R&R quiet rooms for breaks.

Nurses Have a Different Perspective

The healthcare field gives you a perspective on life that most people don’t get.  You examine your own mortality as well as your loved ones’ mortalities.  You are naturally empathetic with your patients and their families.  What if my mom was diagnosed with cancer tomorrow?  What if my husband has an accident? When is the ball going to drop in my life?  When will I be blindsided? Will I be strong enough to handle it?


Nurses are givers.  Some of us take this concept to a point where it isn’t healthy anymore.  It can almost sound like bragging when I hear nurses say “Ha! What’s a lunch? I don’t have time for that.” Or “I haven’t gone to the bathroom in 12 hours. Whoops!” For me, not taking your break for whatever reason should be unacceptable.  If you work in this kind of culture, do not accept that as the “norm”.  For nurses everywhere, do not accept that from an employer.  That should absolutely be brought up to management and administration.  Don’t try to pour from an empty cup.

Have another self-care activity not listed? Let me know! I’d love to hear more ideas.

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Self-Care for Nurses | Vagabond RN

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