Self-care tips for nurses

View all tags
A close-up of a pair of feet in sneakers from behind, stepping off on a track.

As a nurse, your work entails being compassionate, ready, and strong in one of the most stressful environments. The overwhelming nature, unpredictability, and volume of your work can impact your physical and mental well-being in ways you may not realize but nevertheless feel. To avoid burnout, you have to take care of yourself while taking care of your patients.

How burnout can affect your life

Research findings published in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicate that 31.5% of nurses who left their job reported burnout as a contributing reason.1

Your well-being can be at stake if the quality and quantity of the work you’re doing surpasses the amount you can take. External stressors often lead to internal distress. Dealing with—or the inability to deal with—a high frequency of uncontrollable stressors could lead to physical weakness, depression, inadequate nutrition, and stress in your personal life.

What are the causes of burnout?

  • Working extra hours to cover staffing issues
  • Long shifts
  • Lacking helpful supervision
  • Not getting along with colleagues
  • A high volume of patients
  • Difficult patients
  • Performance metrics that measure numbers and patient evaluations

The warning signs of burnout include:

  • Lack of empathy and expressing indifference toward patients, colleagues, family, and friends
  • Work-related exhaustion that takes a physical and mental toll
  • Disinterest in work
  • Feeling cynical
  • Feeling depressed
  • Social disconnection

If you are beginning to experience or already experience some or all of these signs, then you need to take a step to prioritize yourself.

Why you should prioritize yourself

The American Nurses Association Health Risk appraisal revealed that 68% of nurses place their patients' health, safety, and wellness before their own.2

Showing signs of weakness or withdrawing from work shouldn’t be stigmatizing. You are human and if you neglect signs of physical, psychological, and emotional weakness, you put yourself and your patients at a greater risk. Incorporating self-care practices into your routine can improve your health, decrease stress, make your personal and professional life happier, and put you in a better position to care for others.

Prioritize yourself with self-care