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While nursing is a rewarding career, the demands of the job can make it difficult for nurses to achieve the perfect work-life balance. Nurses experience not getting enough support, working in understaffed environments, dealing with management issues, and not having clear role expectations. For new nurses or student nurses, all these stressors make transitioning into the career very difficult.
New and student nurses can adopt a few self-care strategies to prevent burnout. Burnout culminates in the nurse feeling excessively emotionally exhausted and is also associated with the feeling of not accomplishing much at work. Loss of identity is another symptom of burnout. To prevent burnout, nurses coming into the profession and student nurses must practice self-care.
What is self-care?
Self-care refers to the things we do for ourselves that maintain a healthy mental, physical and spiritual state. Because nurses care for others, they are at risk of succumbing to the stress that accompanies giving emotional support to others. Self-care is important in mitigating the stresses that go along with helping others with their health.
For the new nurse or student nurse working toward a degree such as the online MSN-FNP program at the University of Indianapolis, its important to manage their stress levels to maintain good health, productivity and ability to study.
Top self-care tips for the new or student nurse
Managing stress requires focusing on nutrition, exercise, and sleep. As a part of improving nutrition, consider taking an inventory of your current diet. This can provide an insight into nutritional habits that contribute to poor nutrition and move a person toward making food choices that support optimal health.
Exercise is also an important part of managing the stress of working in the nursing profession. Because nursing typically involves working long shifts, it is difficult to fit in a workout. However, nurses can exercise in short spurts (15 to 20-minute intervals). Alternatively, yoga, Pilates and other exercises that incorporate mindfulness are good ways to de-stress. Consistent exercise has positive impacts on the cardiovascular system, and it produces endorphins, which are associated with boosting one’s mood.
On average, though, most nurses do not get an adequate amount of sleep. Getting a good night’s rest is also important in managing stress at work. Sleep is the time when the body restores all the organ’s functions, so poor sleep habits interfere with the body’s ability to repair itself.
Poor sleep culminates in the body’s inability to focus and work effectively. Avoid unhealthy sleep patterns by disconnecting from all technology and reducing caffeine and alcohol intake. By spending at least seven hours asleep, the brain can recharge, so the student nurse can be focused and productive.
Self-care is the best way to combat stress at work. For the new and student nurse, a strengthened mind and body are the weapons that ward off the daily assaults on the body. Adjusting your nutrition, diet and sleep costs nothing, but frees you to be productive.