As a nurse, your role is to take care of others and to do it well. You work is to help heal not only patients’ bodies but also their minds and spirits. But what about caring for your own body, mind, and spirit? How much time do you devote to that?

It’s the beginning of a brand-new year, which is typically the time when many of us do some soul searching and take a hard look at ourselves, our personal lives and our careers. Call them resolutions, goals or whatever you’d like, but make sure that the goals you make to take care of yourself do not fade by the end of January.
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Getting started

The first step in a successful “new year, new you” self-care plan is to take a self-care assessment test. You must answer every question honestly.

Remember, self-care is between you and you, and the plan will never work if you’re not honest with yourself from the beginning.

Several good self-care tools are available online by doing a quick keyword search.

Next, as you begin writing down resolutions, ask yourself whether you think of self-care as allowing yourself to do more of something specific or allowing yourself to do less. For example, do you think improved self-care should include more time with family, more exercise, more sleep, and more healthy food choices? Alternatively, does it mean following a less frenetic schedule, working fewer hours, making fewer social commitments, learning to worry less and cutting down on procrastination? What does it mean for you personally? Make sure you note this.

We all have things we do too much of and things we don’t do enough of. The important thing to remember is that your self-care resolutions should be aimed at making you feel better — and that means different things to different people. Don’t try to model your resolutions on what society pressures you to do, or what your friends and colleagues are doing. They must be things that you are comfortable with.

Finally, choose your resolutions carefully and thoughtfully. If you’re inclined to make the traditional resolutions — exercise more, make healthier food choices — so be it, but if you didn’t stick to those last year, resolve to find other ways to make resolutions more doable. For instance, if going to the health club four times each week was impossible in 2017, would twice a week, and adding to at-home workouts, be more reasonable/ All in all, avoid repeating the same resolutions and then end up disappointed in yourself as yet again, you could not follow through.

Here are a few ideas that might give your self-care list a new twist and lift your spirits. Share some of your own ideas with your fellow nurses in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you.

Ideas to build a better you

  1. Focus more on new opportunities and less on past mistakes.
  2. Plan a new and challenging step in your career path. Don’t focus on why you can’t achieve it.
  3. Spend more time on meditation, and positive and constructive introspection and less time in crowds and noise.
  4. Spend more time doing what you really love and less time doing what others expect you to do.
  5. Make a bucket list and read more good books. Spend less time on social media.
  6. Spend more time outdoors and less time indoors.
  7. Set aside quality time and alone time for you and your partners and family and less time for group social activities.
  8. Spend more time with your family talking to them.
  9. Make a ‘to-don’t’ list. This is almost as important as those ‘to-do’ lists.

Look ahead to 2018:

None of us knows what challenges 2018 may usher in, but don’t let them deter you from making self-care a priority in your lives. The need for it — especially among nurses, who have chosen to devote their lives to caring for others — cannot be overstated.

Get going on that list. You owe it to yourself. It’s your year!
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