I've said this before, but nurses are generally terrible at self care. We care for others, place ourselves at the bottom of our own priority list, and frequently ignore signs of burnout until it's too late. I've been as guilty as the rest of them, and I have the burnout history to prove it.
When you arrive to the nurses station, office or workplace on Valentine's Day, there may be flowers or candy on the counter--or not. Your workplace may serve a special cake or lunch--or not. Meanwhile, some of your colleagues will be wearing heart-covered scrubs that are an attempt to display their caring nature--literally--on their sleeves. (Don't get me started about scrubs with cartoons, hearts and teddy bears, attire that infantalizes nurses and further subjugates us to physicians by diminishing our professionalism.)
Hearts, flowers, teddy bears and chocolate aside, we nurses (myself included) need to look within our own hearts for the love, affection, gratitude and self-nurturing that we want--nay, that we need and deserve. Self-care is not something that your boss will necessarily remind you to do (unless you're very, very blessed and lucky), and it's a rare workplace that does anything beyond the superficial acknowledgment of your gifts and service.
So, dear nurses, it's high time for you to strike out on your own, take your self-care to heart, and begin to give yourself everything that you ever needed or deserved.
"What can I do", you ask? Here are a few ideas...
- Praise yourself: Do it out loud, in writing, or in your head.
- Give yourself a gift: What is it that would light you up?
- Exercise: Taking care of your body every day is a wonderful gift of self-care and self-love.
- Eat well: This is another gift that keeps on giving.
- Socialize: Spend time with favorite friends or family members
- Take yourself out: Where do you want to go? What do you want to do?
- Create time: Set aside time for yourself, no matter what you plan to do. (You can even nap!)
In the end, nurses, it doesn't really matter what you do. What matters is the intention behind it. Let's face it--no one is going to do it for you, and since today is the first day of the rest of your life (and your career), there's no better time to start than now.
I write these things because I need to hear them myself, and if just one of you makes a change or somehow catalyzes your own self-care and self-love, then this post has done it's job.
Anyway, happy Valentine's Day, and remember that you don't need heart-covered scrubs to show your love. But a little chocolate couldn't hurt!