Self Care

Self Care, is a topic of conversation familiar to nurses.  Despite all of our talk, we could probably all be diagnosed with some sort of self care deficit.  We are typically known to put others needs before our own and continually struggle to find time for ourselves during our busy shifts…and lives.  In this blog I present some reasons self care is important for us and offer strategies to assess and improve our self care activities.

I believe self care is of particular importance for us as faith community nurses.

We believe in a wholistic model of health that promotes “spiritual, physical, mental, and social health” (ANA & HMA, 2012), so unsurprisingly it is important to us to live out this concept in real life. During one of the workshops that I attended at the Health Ministries Association conference last month, I was introduced to the Church Health Center’s Model for Healthy Living. I had read about the model online, but had not utilized it as a resource for my community. In the workshop, we each performed a self-assessment using the Model for Healthy Living Assessment Wheel. Through this activity, I was able to see the balance (or lack thereof) across all aspects of my health. I noticed both neglected areas and flourishing areas. Then, I chose an area to nurture in order to bring myself closer to balance. As the workshop leaders noted, perfection is not the goal. No one is expected to rate themselves with a 10 out of 10 in all areas. Instead, we seek to find balance and move our lives towards wholeness over time. The first step to finding your own balance is to assess your current health status. How do you feel? I encourage you to use the assessment wheel for yourself and choose one area that needs change to bring yourself closer to wholistic well-being. Reflect on your needs and make an action plan for self care.

radical wellness art journaling page licensed photo courtesy distelfliege

radical wellness art journaling page licensed photo courtesy distelfliege

We are challenged with the calling to serve our faith communities while also continuing our careers in other nursing roles, adding to the complexity of juggling work and family life. Even as I sit here and write this blog, I am guilty of indulging in my passion for faith community nursing over engaging in some sort of self care activity. As a doctoral student, I am frequently sitting at my desk for extended periods of time. Last year I realized that my view of the living room wall from my desk wasn’t doing anything for my mental health. So, I moved my desk to face the outside front window where I could glance up to see the wind blowing through the trees or open the window to hear the birds tweet. Ask yourself, what can I change to better take care of myself? Where is there time for me to care for myself within all of the things that I’d like to (or have to) do today? Make time for you.

My messy desk positioned so I can look out the front window and enjoy nature while I work...one of my strategies for self care.

My desk positioned so I can look out the window and enjoy nature.

Speaking from my own faith perspective, self care is important because it enables me to love my neighbor as myself.

Luke 10:27-28: He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”

How can we care for others if we don’t care for ourselves first? I am not suggesting conceit or selfishness, but rather I suggest…when the cup is empty, how can it overflow with love and care for others?

Treating myself to a nice, warm cup of tea is another self care strategy that I am enjoying right now as I write.  Do you like tea? Take a moment to make yourself a cup.

Treating myself to a nice, warm cup of tea. Do you like tea? Take a moment to make yourself a cup.

In the book, “Faith Community Nursing,” Janet Hickman suggests several strategies for faith community nurses to provide themselves with self care. I present them for you below. Consider the way these types of self care could possibly be woven into your daily life, and recognize the ways that you already provide yourself with self care.

  • Set limits on your role as faith community nurse to the congregation and spiritual leaders
  • Take breaks for exercise, healthy eating, and sleep for stress management
  • Practice mindfulness meditation and focused breathing
  • Maintain a sense of gratitude
  • Adopt effective time management techniques
  • Incorporate time for personal space, nurturing your spirituality, and listening to relaxing music
  • Engage in storytelling with other faith community nurses (something this community is intended to enable online)
  • Write in a journal to express and reflect on your thoughts and feelings
  • Commune with nature (my favorite) in your preferred spot…the woods or the beach?
  • Self-reflect.
  • Pray. Hickman suggests a variety of ways, such as prayers of gratitude & thanksgiving, before meetings, via labyrinths, use of a “God Box” to turn worries over to God, and through solitude.

“The world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles; only by a spiritual journey by which we arrive at the ground at our feet and learn to be at home.” ~Wendell Berry (Hickman, 2006, p.218)

Summer Steps licensed photo courtesy Juraj Kubica.

Summer Steps licensed photo courtesy Juraj Kubica.

Share some ideas with each other for self care in the comments section below.


References

American Nurses Association & Health Ministries Association. (2012). Faith community nursing: Scope and standards of practice (2nd ed.). Silver Spring, MD: American Nurses Association.

 Hickman, J.  (2006).  Faith community nursing.  Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

About courtholmes

Nurse Practitioner, Faith Community Nurse, Parish Nurse, Certified Wound Specialist, DNP Student at Quinnipiac University, Social Media Enthusiast... Passionate about integrating faith and health! CT Faith Community Nurses on Twitter @CTFCN

Posted on October 26, 2014, in Prayer, Professional Development, Self Care, Spiritual and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Spend time with the pets you love and who love you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Read a good book in your favorite cozy spot.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Make those health care appointments that you’ve been putting off. I just made two that were long overdue.

    Like

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