Taking care of your own needs is the first thing I address when working with a nurse in Burnout.
If you were taking care of your own needs, then you would not be experiencing Burnout that affects you mentally, emotionally, physically and/or even spiritually.
One of the biggest challenges I find for you to take care of your own needs is, Allowing yourself to do so. Not that all nurses are women, but I find that it is the majority of women nurses that fall in the category of not allowing yourself to taking care of your own needs.
For a very long time it was expected of nurses to take care of everyone else and forget about themselves. (It still may be that way today.) I even experienced that when I was working at my last job. A non-medical director made the comment, “I thought it was expected of nurses to work through lunch. Aren’t you supposed to give up your lunch to take care of your patients?” (And that’s just a one example of not taking care of your own needs.)
My answer was, “No! If I do not eat then I am not going to give my patients the best care. I could be more prone to make a mistake and I am not willing to chance that. ” If there is an emergency situation, then yes, take care of the patient at that time. When the emergency is done, then go to lunch or even go to the bathroom if that’s the case. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard over the years from coworkers and other nurses how they skipped lunch or they did not go to the bathroom for 6 or 8+ hours. And all I could think about was, “Why?” Again, unless there is an emergency going on there is no excuse (not reason) to not go to lunch or to the bathroom.
Those are just 2 of the basic needs that you deserve to take care of when you are at work, whether you are in nursing or in any other profession. I love it when I hear, “But you don’t understand.” That statement is just a way to keep your life the way it is and to stay in victim-mode. What are you gaining when you say to someone, “But you don’t understand”? Who else gains or loses out when you say those words?
The more you do not take care of your own basic needs, the less you have to give to others. You are not giving 100% to your patients (clients, customers, who ever you are serving) when you short change yourself by denying yourself care. Then the more you do not allow yourself to take care of your needs, the more you are showing people that you do not respect yourself. In doing that you attract the situations where people start treating you like you treat yourself and you keep the cycle going and you never get to take care of you.
Some questions to ask yourself is: why do you not feel that you can allow yourself to take care of your needs; what are you gaining by not taking care of your needs; who else is gaining by you not taking care of yourself; who loses when you are not taking time for you; when is it going to be time for you?
Call to action: Allow yourself to start taking care of your needs NOW!. Go to lunch at work. Go to the bathroom more than once in an 8 or 12 hour shift. Take a break during the day (yes you can). Ask for help when you need it (yes you can). Ask yourself the questions above and really answer them truthfully.
If you are a nurse in Burnout, allow yourself to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a complimentary strategy session to see how I can guide you back to taking care of your own needs; how I can guide you to allowing yourself to do what you need to do for YOU!
P.S. There is more to taking care of your own needs than what I wrote above. There are many more aspects to taking care of your own needs that goes outside of your career and into your personal life.