Valentine’s Day came. Valentine’s Day went. Maybe you had a date. Maybe you didn’t. And while everyone was hung up on their relationships (or lack thereof), I couldn’t help but think that perhaps we’re all neglecting the one relationship that is universal to all of mankind and that needs the most nurturing. In fact, it’s the one relationship that establishes the foundation for all other relationships. I’m talking of course, about one’s relationship with his or her self. Sadly enough, most people are guilty of this neglect. In fact, it’s ironic to note that perhaps the guiltiest breed of all, is nurses. Yup, those same people whom society has dubbed, ‘angels in scrubs,’ and who dispense never-ending compassion for those they treat; those same people can’t seem to find the time to give that same unconditional love and care to themselves.
And now that I should officially be banned from using the word ‘relationship’ ever again, I’m going to go on record stating that this neglect (perhaps this word should be banned too??) must come to an end. YOU cannot give and give and give of yourself, without stopping to refill the pitcher. YOU will get burnt out, YOU will turn resentful, and both you and the people you care for will suffer. Follow along as I break down this super daunting task of ‘self-care’ and ‘self-love’ into individual steps your nurse brain can process and then implement.
Seems easy enough, doesn’t it? You do it all day! Take a pen and paper and write down what it is exactly that you do for yourself on a daily basis; weekly basis; monthly basis. Are there any enjoyable activities you engage in? Are your emotional and spiritual needs being met? Are you eating well, exercising, hanging out with friends, taking vacations etc.? You’ll also want to jot down those things that drag you down. What’s your exhaustion level like? What’s your burnout rate? In short, you want to write down anything that affects your overall wellbeing.
Here’s where you need to get real with yourself. Take a good look at that list you just created and ask yourself, ‘Am I thriving in the life that I am living?’ If the answer is yes, then kudos to you! But if it is not, as I’d venture to say is the case in most scenarios, then you need to admit that you have a problem. Only then can you begin the rehabilitation process.
Plan a Course of Action:
This is just like devising a care plan for a patient, except in this instance, it’s a self-care plan, and the patient is none other than yourself. Do you feel emotionally unhealthy to the point that you’re constantly stressed out? A therapist may be the answer. Would you love to exercise but feel like you don’t know where to start? A gym membership or personal trainer may be the push that you need. Do you never get a break; like ever? It may be time to finally use those vacation days and plan a girl’s trip. Whatever it is that you feel is holding you back from living your best life can be rectified. All it needs is a plan.
Implement the Plan:
Now that you’ve got a solid plan of action, it’s time to implement said plan. BUT. And this is a biggie. You need to make sure that you set measurable and achievable goals. Saying, ‘I vow to exercise more,’ is not going to cut it. Suppose you purchased a gym membership as part of the planning process. Now you need to tell yourself that you will attend the gym twice a week, for 30 minute sessions, for the next 2 months. Clear, measurable, and most importantly, sustainable. (You hope!)
When you make a care plan for your patient, it sometimes needs to be tweaked. Same story here. Suppose you’re a week into your plan and you realize that exercising twice a week just isn’t feasible. So you tweak the plan and cut it back to once a week. If you ever do manage to go twice a week, that’s incredible! And hopefully at some point down the road you can add that second session back in permanently. You’ve got to do what works for you. There’s no use stressing over self-care; that would be counterproductive.
And there you have it folks; the 5 steps to a new and improved YOU!