Tuesday July 29th 2014

Focus on self-care

New guide offers realistic, systematic approaches for practicing RNs

Nurses excel at caring for others but often forget to care for themselves. The American Nurses Association (ANA) You! series: Self-Care and You: Caring for the Caregiver serves as a how-to guide for nurses who need to learn to prioritize caring for themselves so they can better care for others. Nurses, nursing students and other caregivers will all find this guide relatable and useful. The primary author, Kim Richards, RN, NC-BC, founder of Self-Care Academy and an ANA member, provides a comprehensive program offering practical strategies for nurse self-care on and off the job. “As nurses, we have a tendency to over-give, and often there is nothing left for us. This book discusses why it is mandatory to make and take time to fill up our own reservoirs so that we can continue to give our best to others,” Richards said.

Why self-care?

“We selected this topic because we wanted to encourage nurses to take care of themselves as well as they take care of their patients,” said Beth Ulrich, the editor of the new book. Richards added, “Research has shown a direct relationship between self-care and compassion fatigue (CF), a debilitating phenomenon that is characterized by a cynical or calloused approach to caregiving. Other detrimental effects of the ‘emotional sludge’ of CF are a decrease in productivity, negative attitudes, inability to focus, sleeplessness and hopelessness. Job stress is part of the nurse’s occupation. However, over time, if not released in healthy ways, constant stress can lead to CF, burnout, and leaving the profession. The results of unmitigated CF can be devastating, but proactive, sustainable self-care is the antidote.

Self-care can be simple

Fortunately, Self-Care and You is packed with practical information about how nurses can prioritize caring for themselves in order to rest and recharge. “Many of the self-care suggestions in the book don’t take a lot of time, and they can have tremendous benefits,” Ulrich said.

Written in an approachable, compassionate style, Self-Care and You is a must-have for nurses and other caregivers. The book, adapted from original work by Richards and Self-Care Academy, is written by board-certified nurse health coaches. It focuses on six self-care pathways — physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, relationships and choice — and explores many different ways nurses can care for themselves. Optimal nutrition, adequate sleep, mindfulness, meditation and routine exercise are some of the better-known methods of self-care, but others are explored as well, such as cultivating healthy relationships, practicing positive self-talk and making healthy choices. Any nurse feeling the effects of job stress will find useful advice that yields positive results.

The book offers many practical tips, including one about partnering with other nurses for accountability. It’s paramount that nurses seek reminders to take some “me” time. “When nurses hold each other accountable for self-care, the power to change culture, improve teamwork, and continually give compassionate care is tremendous,” Richards said.

Self-Care and You will serve as a vital part of the nurse self-care journey and can help turn awareness into daily action.

ANA resources

About the ANA You! Series

The ANA You! Series books are tailored to help working nurses. They give action-oriented information that can be implemented in all practice settings and levels of care. The self-directed learning in the You! Series books is the perfect way to learn new skills and get the latest approaches to solving the day-to-day problems you encounter.

Learn more and order at www.nursebooks.org/ana-you-series or call 800-637-0323.

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