Taking care of others is the number one priority of healthcare professionals. But it’s no secret it can take its toll, too. This mental and physical exhaustion can make your work performance suffer, and although it may feel antithetical to the task at hand, it’s anything but.
If you make yourself happy first, caring for your patients to the best of your ability will be easier.
Still, for many of us, prioritizing our personal wellbeing is easier said than done.
If you’re struggling to balance your diet, lifestyle or mental health with your work life, here’s how to make yourself a priority while caring for others.
Why is it important to make yourself a priority?
Why is self-care important for nurses and other healthcare workers? Well, it boils down to one core reason: If you don’t love and care for yourself, it’s not just you on the line; your patient care suffers, too.
Self-care will boost your productivity
We know it may be challenging to turn off that internal warning bell and learn how to put yourself first. However, sometimes a recharge is all you need to return to everyday life, both physically and emotionally.
It can prevent burnout
Burnout is a serious condition where a person feels continuously exhausted, no matter how much rest they achieve. It can last for an extended period—sometimes months or even a year—and it can negatively affect your health and relationships. While time off is not a panacea to this problem, self-care can help you avoid the worst side effects.
It affects every aspect of your life
If you’ve got some good routines in place or know how to make yourself feel better, you may notice improved physical health, mental health and hygiene. Your relationship with others can improve, too, and your outlook on life can change for the better.
Conversely, poor health or daily routines can cause poor personal relationships. So if you’re looking for ways to keep those self-care routines going, we’ve got some tips on how to make a positive change.
15 Everyday habits to make yourself a priority
Watch how you talk to yourself
Putting yourself down in a joking way may seem harmless. After all, everyone has moments of self-doubt, and keeping humble is certainly admirable. However, if you talk down to yourself too much, it can impact your self-worth and how you address your own needs.
So, if you find yourself struggling with pessimism, ask yourself, “Are these criticisms necessary?” Try to give yourself some praise instead.
Incorporate physical activity into your life
The rumors are true (much to the dismay of all homebodies). Physical activity does improve your mood and bring inner peace, no matter how lazy you feel at the time.
Although it’s challenging to balance exercise with a busy schedule, pencil in that activity where you can, and don’t make excuses to avoid it. After all, this “make yourself a priority” is not for show. If you’re doing a lot of walking, consider buying a pair of Jaanuu’s supportive socks for women or supportive socks for men to make your feet more comfortable.
Exercising with your coworkers? You can put in a group order for socks, too.
Sometimes, the most stressful thing you can experience is saying “no.” The inability to set boundaries with others can have you working in hazardous conditions and wreck your headspace. If you notice people asking for too much, push against it.
Easier said than done, and meditation may not be for everyone. Some people hate the idea of sitting down and doing nothing. However, a few moments of rest, relaxation and deep thought each morning can give you the mental fortitude to center yourself for the day.
Listen to your body
Our bodies often know something is wrong before we do, either because we aren’t paying attention to the symptoms or because we’ve seen the signs and we’re desperately in denial.
If you notice yourself moving slower than usual or something feels wrong, ease back on those daily activities and try to locate the problem. Schedule a doctor’s appointment, if necessary.
Get some rest
Sometimes poor or inadequate sleep is the problem, and which can lead to a host of chronic health problems. If you notice your nighttime habits slipping, set a specific time to go to bed to break the pattern and prioritize your sleep. Buy an eye mask to block out ambient light while sleeping.
Treating yourself to a little retail therapy can provide some positive motivation for some of us fashion-forward individuals. Whether that’s a Jaanuu gift card, a day at the salon or just sitting down to watch some movies, do something you enjoy. It’s the little things in life that let you know you won.
For some folks, writing is what centers their thoughts, not meditation. If you fall into this camp, buy a journal and use it for writing about whatever makes you feel best. Maybe it’ll be a definitive chronicle of the day, or you can use it to write down a daily list of positive manifestations. Jot down some “make yourself a priority” quotes, too.
Make dates with your family and friends
Too much alone time can be a silent killer, and often, self-care means reaching out to your loved ones to remind yourself of who’s there and who will provide care if you’re not well. Spend low-key time with friends and family to recharge and reconnect.
Try a new hobby
Hobbies can take up a significant amount of free time, but they don’t have to. For self-care, it can clear your mind and help you destress. Look for simple activities that don’t require much time or effort, like listening to a podcast or knitting.
It’s easier said than done, but an optimistic outlook has a beneficial effect on everything else. A positive mindset can influence how you approach problems and successfully move past them. Remember that positive self-reinforcement? Keep it up. Writing in a journal? Stick to daily affirmations. Is social media depressing? Take a break from it.
Talk to a therapist
Of course, sometimes the situation is so stressful you really can’t stay positive. It’s OK to ask for help. If you find yourself struggling, find a therapist to talk to. They’ll be able to give you intensive advice tailored to your situation.
Separate yourself from the drama
Sometimes the stress you’re carrying around is not yours, but others. Perhaps your coworkers are fighting and they want you to choose sides. Detach yourself from the drama and refuse to engage in gossip. It’ll help no one if you muddy the waters with opinions or half-truths.
Use apps and other tools to streamline your day
Assistive tools can help you manage your busy day by streamlining basic tasks. For example, if you need to track your appointments, use a calendar app. Don’t have time to vacuum your apartment? Buy a Roomba.
Lastly, you’ll want to make a meal plan. Not only does meal prepping help you save money, but it frees up your time and helps you stay healthy even if you’re contending with a busy schedule.
Although meal planning can seem daunting, it isn’t. For more info, check out our meal-prepping guide.