Got Heart, Nurses?

Last week, I shared a post about nurses taking care of their feet. Those hard-working feet deserve your attention and love, and ignoring their needs is certainly not in your best interest—or theirs.

Having said that, there’s something else that needs your compassion and care, and that’s your nurse’s heart.

The Nurse’s Heart

The nurse’s heart is like any other human’s heart. It can be tender, vulnerable, calloused, icy, ambivalent, kind or compassionate. The human heart is a complicated and fickle creature, and its complexity can even cause it to be both compassionate and calloused at the same time, although one will generally win out over the other in any given circumstance.

Since the human heart is fickle and prone to change at any moment, it’s also a very vulnerable organ, both in the physical sense and the more energetic, metaphoric sense.

So, nurses, in the midst of your work and stress, how do you care for your heart? What do you do to make sure your heart feels nurtured and cared for? Now, I don’t mean getting your cholesterol checked, although that’s a great idea. As you’ve probably already surmised, I’m talking about the ways in which you make sure your heart is cared for so that you don’t suffer negative emotional consequences from your work, and that can be a tall order, indeed.

What Do You Do For Your Heart?

In the course of your personal and professional lives, how do you care for your heart? When you leave work, how do you make sure that you’re not carrying the suffering of your patients in your heart? When a patient dies, how do you care for that heart of yours so that it doesn’t break?

As nurses, one way we deal with those heartbreaking moments is to harden our hearts, building up emotional callouses that help us to keep our distance and not get deeply impacted by the pain and suffering that we regularly witness. While firm boundaries are healthy, the hardening of the heart can actually cause us more pain than leaving it open, but that’s a subject for another time.

What I’m trying to get at is that your heart needs support and love, whether it’s walks in nature, a cuddle with your child, an evening at an art gallery, or maybe popcorn and a favorite movie. What you do for your heart is up to you, but you must have practices that keep your heart supple and cared for. It’s your heart, after all.

Practice Makes Perfect

If you haven’t been taking good care of your heart, now is the time to start. Don’t wait until Valentine’s Day, your birthday, Christmas, or any other special event. Start now, and practice, practice, practice.

How do you practice? Take a shower when you get home from work and then go for a nice walk. You can watch your favorite movie, drink a cup of hot chocolate, read your daughter a story, or cuddle with your dog. You can wish upon a star, read a good book, put your feet up, or write a love note to yourself.

Practice does make perfect, and since we’re imperfect humans in a very complicated world, and caring for our hearts is a kind and compassionate thing to do f0r ourselves, and the positive consequences are many.

About Keith

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Keith Carlson is a holistic career coach for nurses, award-winning nurse blogger, writer, podcaster, speaker, author, and popular career columnist.

With two decades of nursing experience, Keith deeply understands the issues faced by 21st-century nurses. Keith’s two podcasts, RNFM Radio and The Nurse Keith Show, offer inspiration and practical support to nurses seeking to create meaningful, satisfying lives and careers.

Keith’s message of savvy career management and professional satisfaction reaches tens of thousands of nurses worldwide. Keith can be found on many social media platforms, as well as at