Publish Date: January 12, 2022
Nurses are working to heal themselves from the strains of caring and living through COVID, and it’s no easy task as variants continue to emerge, staff shortages persist, and tensions over COVID safety measures continue.
That’s why self-care must be a nurse’s top priority in 2022, stresses wellness and nursing coach Dr. Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN, NPD-BC. However, next year’s commitments to self-care may look different than the usual goals to lose weight or hit the gym (though diet and exercise should be part of the plan).
“The real challenge and the most important thing we can do for ourselves is to reconnect after becoming so accustomed to being disconnected and keeping our distance, which increased a dangerous mindset of isolation,” Quinlan explains. “We have to start with gaining the courage to increase socialization in a safe manner and it IS possible.”
For example, if you’re a parent or grandparent, try organizing a play group with a few nurses who also have kids or grandkids that have similar views on pandemic safety measures. Or try putting together a few friends to start a book club—it can even be virtual.
Becoming less isolated will empower nurses to build on the joy of reconnection and start thinking about how they can make themselves feel well in other ways, Quinlan says.
Invest in Yourself
With a renewed focus on yourself, you are ready to start thinking about different ways to advance your self-care in 2022 and Quinlan suggests starting with these four important steps:
- Treat Your Body Right
Get a simple and clear regimen for yourself focused on regular sleep, a diet that makes you feel good, exercise you enjoy and most importantly, an optimistic mindset, she emphasizes. “A positive outlook creates nurturing places for energy that make it easier to get going each and every morning.”
- Make a Daily Effort to Engage
Capitalize on any opportunity to share your story from experiences through the pandemic as part of your efforts to increase socialization and decrease isolation, Quinlan suggests. “Creating regular, safe social circles will continually re-fuel your feelings of health and wellness.”
- Take a Career Leap
Caring for patients through the height of the pandemic helped so many nurses realize they were capable of more than they ever thought possible, and now is the time to take those achievements and personal growth moments to a new level, Quinlan suggests. “Take a good look at your career strategy—maybe it’s time to go back to school through an online program or sign-up to earn that certification you’ve been meaning to get.”
She also says organizations are looking for nurses who want to advance in their profession and fill needed roles, especially for those looking to advance their skills in intraoperative care where staffing shortages are really being felt, Quinlan adds. “Many organizations are offering formal orientation programs with curriculum such as Periop 101 to grow their own nurses into advanced periop roles.”
- Be Patient
“Don’t ask too much of yourself,” Quinlan cautions. “Giving it your personal best doesn’t mean beating yourself up about what you are NOT achieving because this can lead to ruminating thoughts that can be the seeds of depression. “Remember that nursing is a perpetual profession—there is no endpoint. It’s best to stop obsessing about getting things done and just show up fully and give what you can every day.”