National Nurse Week: Be Sure to Appreciate Yourselves, Nurses!

It’s National Nurses Week! 

Every year from May 6th to the 12th, the U.S. celebrates nurses across the nation for their hard work and compassion. The celebration is in honor of Florence Nightingale (her birthday was May 12th), a social reformer and statistician who essentially founded the occupation of Nursing during the Crimean War when she organized the care of wounded men and training of nurses, and the people who followed in her footsteps to become nurses.

It is common during this week for businesses to run specials and promotions targeting nurses—providing discounts, free items, and limited-edition items, often specifically for nurses’ needs (check out some of them HERE)—and for employers of nurses to make their employees feel special through a number of means such as providing catered lunch, gift bags, giveaways, etc.

While it does feel wonderful to be doted upon, nurses should remember to provide themselves with extra care and appreciation—and not just during National Nurses Week.
How Good Is Your Physical, Mental & Emotional Health?
It is not unusual for nurses to place their mental and physical health on the backburner while going above and beyond for their patients. In the last year and a half, while the Covid pandemic has reigned, the demand for nurse commitment and personal sacrifice has significantly increased. 

Nurses, be sure your physical, mental, and emotional health are being cared for! Your ongoing commitment can only be strengthened when proper care of yourself is addressed. Review the following to see how well your physical, mental, and emotional health may be doing—then read on for tips for improving!
Are you getting at least 7 hours of sleep, either consecutively or cumulatively? Less than 7 hours of sleep can lead to chronic health disorders, lack of focus, and inattentiveness while on the job.
How much caffeine are you using as a wake-up (or stay-up) crutch? A cup of coffee may help you wake up or keep going but caffeine in excess can be detrimental. Researchers from the Wayne State College of Medicine and from the Sleep Disorders & Research Center of the Henry Ford Hospital in Michigan report caffeine taken within 6 hours before bedtime can reduced sleep time and quality, two factors that greatly impact daily function.
Are you getting enough water? At a minimum, busy nurses should be consuming eight 8-oz glasses of water; however, a demanding schedule could require more hydration.
Are you exercising—at least moderately? Being on your feet constantly and rushing about from patient to patient does not count. Routine aerobics (walking, swimming, yoga, etc.) can help maintain your overall health and help minimize your exhaustion from your daily bustle.
Do you eat healthy meals, or do you just snack when you can grab a moment? Whether you are working days, nights, or pulling a double be sure your first meal is rich in protein and calcium—the rest of your day will thank you.
Do you recount bad moments from prior shifts? Sometimes, it is vital to speak to a professional, but talking to a friend or coworker can help when in a mental pinch. We don’t live in a perfect world and sometimes, things don’t go the way we expect them too (or wish they would). Remember all of the times you changed a life for the better and try to refocus and redirect your thoughts anytime your mind begins to focus on any “bad” moments.
Go for a check-up. Just because you are a nurse and can recognize the signs of an illness does not mean you should let your routine medical care slack.
The above should also take into account your mental health. As a nurse, you help others manage their panic, fear, stress, anger, joy, and every emotion in-between. Be sure you are there for yourself as well to manage your mental and emotional health.
Self-Care Tips For Nurses
While the call for nursing is a demanding one, it is vital for nurses to manage their self-care so they can continue giving their all to each of their patients. Take a look at some of these self-care ideas and try to implement at least three every day.
For every one hour you work, take 10 minutes to clear your mind, take deep breaths, and stretch.
Meal prep to ensure you are getting adequate nutrition during the day and are less tempted to eat your lunch from a vending machine.
Be sure to laugh (when appropriate!)—its known for helping lift spirits and reduce stress.
Mediate before bed, upon waking, on a lunch break—or whenever you can. It can greatly reduce your stress and help you refocus your mental load.
As a nurse you often give a lot of grace and sympathy from others—don’t be afraid or hesitate to take some for yourself.
Take a scenic walk, listen to music, paint, read a book, go for a swim, craft, play an instrument—do something you enjoy solely because you find it enjoyable.
On your day off, rest and disconnect, especially from social media.
Provide maximum attention to your basic needs (food, rest, exercise, etc.).
Cry, scream, whoop for joy—when the time (or place) is right. When you feel an emotion, allow yourself to process it and avoid bottling it up for your entire shift to help reduce your constant mental stress.
Spend time with family, friends, pets, or anyone/anything who brings you joy.
Always remember that it is okay to not be okay sometimes. It is important to recognize these times, address them through self-care or by seeking professional assistance. You should always give first preference to your health and well-being. If you aren’t safe—you cannot safeguard others.
“Keep Calm and Carry On”—because that’s what nurses do! Happy National Nurses Week!

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