Nurses are on the frontline of caring for patients 24/7/365, which can be equally rewarding and stressful on its own. The outbreak of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) in the U.S. has left nurses being faced with increasing patient loads, not to mention higher stress levels.
While self care for nurses is important throughout the year, it is particularly important now. So, what can nurses do to help keep themselves healthy and manage stress when patients’ need them most?
First and foremost, follow the protocols and procedures put in place by your employer to manage the spread of flu-like illnesses as well as COVID-19. The CDC has developed a bank of resources to help employers respond to COVID-19, and the American Nurses Association has helpful resources for nurses, as does the CDC.
Stay hydrated. Dehydration can cloud your thinking and higher patient volumes mean you need to be on your toes at all times. Whether you bring a water bottle to work or track your intake on an app, be sure to remain hydrated before, during and after your shift.
Prioritize sleep. As a nurse, much of the day is spent on your feet. Nursing is both physically and emotionally demanding, and regular, quality sleep is an important tool for meeting those demands.
Make time to exercise. We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again – working as a nurse is physically demanding. Whether physically supporting patients who need help transitioning from one position or location to another, or remaining on your feet for 12-hour shifts, finding time to workout is key for meeting these demands. Physical exercise is also a great way to blow off some steam and clear your head after a long shift.
Support your mental well-being. Meditation. Yoga. Time with friends. Making time for activities that bring you mental clarity is a priority. When you are working a 12-hour shift, whether in the ER, ICU or a trauma unit, you are mentally and physically firing on all cylinders. And, when conditions and protocols are constantly changing, in a fluid situation like COVID-19, nurturing your mind and spirit is important for ensuring you can respond to those situations quickly and effectively.
Proactively planning for self-care is important in all fields, but especially nursing. Whether you set reminders on your phone for meals, workouts or time to unwind, or create a weekly or monthly self-care calendar to refer back to, intentionally making time to take care of yourself is part of being a better nurse. Remember, the more well-rested and less-stressed you are, the more emotional and physical support you have to offer patients.
Interested in supporting healthcare facilities across New York to fight COVID-19? Contact Trechell or Kawana today on 646-779-7960.