Recently, I was coaching a registered nurse who works 3 to 4 12 hour night shifts a week. She has two kids under the age of 2, and her husband is currently in grad school. She just moved to a new state where she has no family support. I related so much to this client, as I was in an almost identical scenario 9 years ago at the beginning of my nursing career. Unfortunately for me, I had only a vague notion of what the term ‘self-care’ meant, and to me it loosely translated to collapsing in front of Netflix after a long, exhausting shift.
With this client, we spent a long time discussing the importance of high quality self-care when time is so scarce. Because she has so very little time to devote to recharging her own batteries, we really wanted to optimize the little bit of time she had to ensure that she wasn’t burning out at her job and with her family. Of course, there is nothing wrong with collapsing in front of the TV and escaping reality with an engrossing show. It is still one of my favourite ways to unwind. But recently I have tried to shift some of my self-care selections to activities that really pack a punch and keep me functioning at my best, so I can serve my patients, my clients, my family, and my community. This is what I call high-quality self-care.
Here is a menu of self-care activities that really go a long way in replenishing your energy. A powerful way to make your self-care go even further is to say or think to yourself “I am taking care of myself” before engaging in self-care. You are reminding your subconscious that you are taking care of yourself and prioritizing your wellness. What an incredible message to send to your brain!
- Meditation - even 2 minutes goes a long way. Insight Timer has a great selection of guided meditations, as well as a customizable meditation timer. For $60/yr you can access their courses, which I find very valuable because it takes away the stress of deciding which meditation to do next.
- Breath Work - this video is a great place to start - Guided Wim Hof. Increasing your lung capacity is hard work, so don't be surprised if you find it very challenging at first! If you're into podcasts, I love the podcast called Breathcast, which talks a lot about the power of the breath to lower stress and improve our quality of life. I also make a point to incorporate deep nasal breaths throughout the day, particularly while driving.
- Yoga - I love yoga as a form of self care because it checks so many boxes. It is exercise, breath work, meditation, mindfulness, stretching, and more wrapped into a neat little package. There are a ton of free videos on YouTube, I always come back to Adriene, she's my favourite!
- Taking a Bath - Pamper yourself! Get a face mask, bath bomb, or salt scrub
- Aromatherapy - scented candles or aroma diffusers. Here's a great article with the uses for different oils Essential Oils
- Socializing - Social time is a super important component of self-care. Meeting a friend for coffee, or even calling someone on the phone you haven't spoken to in a while is a great way to recharge your batteries.
- Sleep - Optimizing sleep is a huge step in the self-care journey. It is also something I have given a lot of thought to, as someone who has worked night shift on and off for almost 9 years! I would love to write a more detailed article on this topic in the future.
Please comment below with your favourite forms of high-quality self care, I’d love to hear them!