“How Does Taking Care of Ourselves Help Healthcare Professionals be more Caring?”

By: Helen M. Thamm, APRN, CPC

Seems people who care for others all the time, don’t often take the time to take care of people who are just important—themselves!  In fact if caring professional like nurses don’t make self care a priority, they often find after a prolonged period of time their passion is waning, their energy is draining and their health is—well you know!  No nurse or other caring professional I know wants to become a patient. So, how can we prevent becoming the person who needs a nurse?

Ways to Take Care of the Caretaker:

  1. Chisel out time every day to do something just for you.  It can be as simple as taking a mineral salts bath or spending a short time outside on a sunny, warm day.  (I have a glider swing in my back yard and am lucky enough to also have a two-mile square state park, complete with a small herd of buffalo, right next to my town).
  2. Take regular at least one week long vacations.  It takes about the first three days just to slow down enough to begin to relax and refurbish, so just a three-day weekend is usually not enough.  Make sure your vacation is a real break from your usual days as well.

 For example:

  • If you are physically active in your job, you may want to take some “lazy days” resting your body, but if you sit a lot, you may want to do something more active.  A word of caution:  you may want to just walk a couple of miles, even in a shopping mall, rather than trying to ride your bike that has been gathering dust for a year for 100 miles in a day, or hike up rugged hills, as overdoing it on vacation can cause stress injuries—and they hurt!
  • If you work with people most of the time, spending some quiet time alone may be best for you.  If on the other hand you work mainly on projects, try spending time with compatible family members/friends.
  • Experience a new adventure.  I rode a horse when I was 30, for the first time since I was a teenager—at a family oriented Mexican resort!

So both daily self care and taking at least a one-week vacation (ideally two to three times per year) is paramount to help professional caretakers, like registered nurses, be able to continue to give their best to those who depend on them!

Taking care of yourself can help you be an even better caretaker and may also prevent you from becoming a patient!


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About the Author:  Helen Thamm, APRN, CPC is a licensed nurse therapist in Illinois and Wyoming as well as a Certified Professional Coach, who is a career and wellness specialist. You can obtain free tips on career success and wellness issues at NurseCareerSuccess.com and you can listen to her career success radio series on the Events Page.  Leadership challenges are creatively overcome in her new manager’s success toolkit book:  “How to Manage with a Magic Wand (No, Don’t Hit Your “Problem Employees” over the Head with it!)” and work/life re-balance in the bestseller “The Wellness Code” co-authored with Dr. John Ellis, et al which are available at Amazon.com.  Helen can be reached for questions at:  http://nursecareersuccess.com.


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