Well, folks, Thanksgiving has come and gone, and the holiday season is upon us in a big way. Some of you have already celebrated Hannukah, whereas others are still gearing up for Kwanzaa (which begins on December 26th) and Christmas. Then New Years celebrations come on the heels of Christmas (just as Kwanzaa ends), and we begin 2014 in earnest.
Just before Thanksgiving, I published a post on this blog entitled “Nursing and the Holiday Season“. In that post, I outlined the ways in which nurses can feel stretched at this time of year, as well as the extra compassion we feel for our patients who are without families nearby (or without families at all). I also covered the reality that many nurses need to work on holidays while simultaneously managing the stress that this time of year brings.
Can We Also Nurse Ourselves?
It’s true: nurses spend a lot of time caring for others. I think we can agree on that. So, taking this reality into consideration, can we also agree that it’s possible for us to nurse and nurture ourselves while we nurse and nurture others? If it’s indeed possible–and I believe it truly is–can we do it?
Another truth with which most of us would readily agree is that burnt out, bitter, cynical nurses provide suboptimal care when compared with their healthy colleagues. Taking this into consideration, isn’t it worthwhile to nurture yourself, especially at a time of year when we can easily be pushed to our limit, both personally and professionally?
It’s Worth It
Taking care of yourself amidst the stressful times is worth it, even though it might seem stressful to even think about attempting to do so.
When asked how they care for themselves, many nurses might say, “Oh, I don’t have time for that!” This somewhat typical response belies the notion that there’s a plethora of nurses out there in the world who are burning their wick at three ends, as it were, and are simply ticking time bombs of stress, burnout and potential ill health.
So, if it’s worth it to care for yourself, there are many possible negative outcomes that can be summarily avoided, including but not limited to:
- Stress-related illnesses
- Negative psychoemotional effects
- Damaged relationships (both personal and professional)
- Unhappiness and burnout at work
- Basic unhappiness
- A miserable holiday season
And What About The Benefits?
The benefits of caring for yourself–either during the holiday season or any other time of year–are enormous. I personally feel that anything you do to help yourself is multiplied during the holidays when the entire spectrum of emotions can be off the charts in terms of intensity.
So, if you invest time and energy in exercising, resting, eating well, hydrating well, and caring for yourself in numerous ways, you can avoid a great deal of stress that would otherwise have really thrown you off your game.
- You will still experience stress, but it will be easier to handle
- Stress-related illnesses will be less likely to take hold
- Negative psychoemotional effects will be mitigated
- Damage to relationships will be avoided
- Unhappiness and burnout at work will be a decreased risk
- Basic unhappiness will be turned into basic contentment
- And a miserable holiday season will also be avoided
Good luck caring for yourself this holiday season, and make sure you do what you need to do in order so stay balanced, whole and healthy.