Caring science starts with self-care for nurses

Nurses can be unkind toward each other and sometimes not be as present and attentive as they should be when caring for patients. I believe one reason for this behavior is their attitudes toward themselves.

My work on the Theory of Human Caring is founded on the principle that practicing kindness, compassion and equanimity toward yourself is an important process to go through before you can be caring, loving and compassionate — or caritas — toward another person. Self-care is integral to a nurse’s job.

The Theory of Human Caring invites nurses to attend to their consciousness, intentionality and mindfulness in the moment — to be present. Both self-care and caring for others are heart-centered practices that feed the human spirit and nourish the soul.

Luckily, there are infinite possibilities on how to accomplish both. By using theory-guided practices of self-care and healing — such as creating quiet time, engaging in silence, pausing when most hurried, praying and asking for help you can change negative patterns that interfere with caritas.

Caring for oneself also involves paying attention to inner messages and using mantras and affirmations to quiet the busy mind. Slow down the pace to be present in the moment.

Journaling, heart-centered breathing, meditation, massage, enjoying nature and all forms of artistic expression — singing, movement, dance — can contribute to self-love and self-compassion. Each person’s individual talents and gifts can help determine his or her self-care practices.

Compassion for yourself first, then compassion for others

When nurses are practicing self-care, they have more compassion, are less judgmental of themselves and are, therefore, less likely to judge others.

We are all wounded. We are all in the process of growing and healing. One person’s growth, or lack thereof, can reflect on others, so if nurses are unkind to themselves, it can have an effect on others.

The Theory of Human Caring involves a transpersonal state of consciousness as the basis for self-care. If one person is raising his or her consciousness to allow for more self-love and self-care, that person can inspire kindness and peace in others.

Transpersonal consciousness also involves going beyond ego and connecting with a higher source or spirit, which leads to an even deeper understanding of self-care as foundational to caring for others, the community or the planet.

Self-care feeds caritas processes such as practicing kindness and compassion; authentic presence; enabling faith and hope; developing and sustaining loving, trusting and caring relationships; allowing for the expression of positive and negative feelings (either from yourself or others); being sensitive to yourself and others by cultivating spiritual practices; and creating a healing environment, among others.

“Touchstones: Setting Intentionality & Consciousness for Caring /Healing” was developed as a guide for sustaining caring practices.

These practices include:

  • Caring in the beginning — Begin the day with silent gratitude. Be open to giving and receiving. Intend to bring your full self in the day-to-day moments and to cultivate a loving-caring consciousness.
  • Caring in the middle — Take quiet moments to “center” and be still within yourself before entering a patient’s room or when entering a meeting. Cultivate a loving-caring consciousness toward each person and each situation you encounter throughout the day. Make an effort to see who the spirit-filled person is behind the patient or colleague. In the middle of stressful moments, remember to breathe and ask for guidance when unsure. Let go of that which you cannot control.
  • Caring in the end — Commit yourself to cultivating a loving, caring practice. Use whatever has happened this day as lessons to grow into your own humanity and inner wisdom. Offer gratitude for all that has entered the circle of your life and work this day.
  • Caring continues — Create your own intentions and authentic practices. Find your own spiritual path toward cultivating caring and meaningful experiences in your life, work and the world.

In the end, being more kind and accepting of yourself will lead you to be that person to your patients.

Courses related to ‘self-care’

WEB307: Nurse, Take Care of Thy Self
(1 contact hr)

Nursing is a stressful profession! Nurses are known for taking care of others at the cost of their own wellbeing. Lack of self-care can lead to compassion fatigue, personal health issues, and a lack of work life balance. When a nurse takes the time to care for themselves, both their colleagues and patients will reap the benefit. As easy as it sounds, it can be hard to create a work life balance, exercise, and be a nurse role model. When pursuing continuing education or a new professional role, self-care and time management are key to helping yourself be successful.

WEB316: Work Life Balance: Learning to Say “No” Strategically!
(1 contact hr)

Leadership and management roles are highly stressful, and the more we take care of others, the less time we take care of ourselves. Lack of self-care can lead to compassion fatigue, personal health issues and deteriorating relationships with your staff. However, as the leader, we need to walk the talk and demonstrate work life balance to our staff. As nurses, we tend to say yes to everything. Learning to say “no” is hard. In this webinar, learn how to say “no” strategically in order to create work life balance.

CE424: From ‘Distress’ to ‘De-stress’ With Stress Management
(1 contact hr)

A stress response causes specific biological changes, such as increased heart rate, bronchodilation, horripilation (goose bumps), increased blood pressure, increased sweat production, decreased immune response, decreased insulin and increased blood glucose. The volume of research in this area is growing rapidly, and it is safe to conclude that immune modulations caused by psychosocial stressors or interventions directly affect health outcomes. In the 2011 American Nurses Association survey of health and safety concerns, 74% of nurses reported effects of stress and overwork as their number one concern. This result is up slightly from the 2001 survey. A recent publication reports that nurses experience high levels of workplace stress with negative effects on both individual nurses and the organizations that employ them. This module provides information …read more

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