Self Care Module
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Hello and welcome to the FirstGen RN
development series. Today we’re going to be covering self-care and how to best
take care of yourself while you’re in nursing school and beyond.
I’d like for you all to take a moment and think of all your responsibilities in
and outside of nursing school. As you are thinking about all of these
responsibilities how ,if at all, would you describe the way that you prioritize
your activities and responsibilities. What level of commitment or amount of
presence do you feel is required to do justice to your responsibilities? I know
that this may seem overwhelming to think of but it’s important to remember that
we are so much more than just nursing students. Nursing school is a stressful
time in our lives from attending school full or part-time, to studying for exams,
preparing for simulation labs and clinical rotations, pre-labing on our
patients the night before clinicals, and simply just being successful. So much of
our lives are committed to being successful in our nursing programs! As
first-generation nursing students we are often burning the candle at both ends. We
are more likely to have additional stressors in our lives that we have to
juggle in addition to our rigorous clinical training such as: needing to
work while in school, having it take care of our children and our aging parents
and family members, not being able to live on or near campus and having
difficulties commuting, and establishing a sense of community. As a result, nursing
can be an especially difficult time for first-generation to college nursing
students. We often are so preoccupied with taking care of others that we tend
to neglect our own self-care. So what is self-care? Self-care can be any activity
that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and
physical health and well-being. What self care is not, self-care isn’t self
indulgent or selfish, it’s important for our well-being.
Self-care is not about indulgent purchases or extravagant self pampering;
it’s about taking care of yourself in order to continue showing up and being
of service to others. There is true importance to developing self-care
practices as a student. Taking care of your mind body and spirit will give you
the energy you need to flourish rather than simply scrape by on empty. When our
energy drops our health and well-being can suffer which can affect other areas
of our lives. With a hectic nursing school schedule self-care can easily
drop by the wayside. Make self-care a focal point of your daily and weekly
routines to ensure longevity. Developing self-care strategies and building these
habits now can help you extend your nursing career into the future. I’d like
for you all to take a moment and envision yourselves boarding an airplane
and getting ready for the departure speech. What is one of the very first
things that the flight attendants tell you during their speeches? When the
oxygen masks fall from the roof place the mask first on yourself then help
those in need around you. Why do they tell you that? It’s because if you’re not
okay you certainly cannot help others or be
productive! To be quite frank if you are sick you’re not helping anyone
especially your grades or the patients that you are taking care of. So remember,
it is okay to care for yourself, in fact if you don’t take care of yourself and
ignore the signs your body is signaling to you it will make matters worse and
make you stop on its own. Don’t feel guilty taking care of yourself! Let’s take a look at a few of the different ways that you can engage in self-care. The first is wind down. Don’t spend every
waking hour working. I know this sounds easier said than done especially in
nursing school, but make sure you have an end time to your working day or your
studying day and take some time for yourself. In the evening
if you find out hard to stop working on time, plan a fun activity in the evening
so you have something to look forward to and something to force you to stop
working. Also, have a bedtime ritual. Don’t think you can dive into your bed right
after you close your laptop. The light that emits from screens blocks melatonin,
which can help you fall asleep. Another thing is no caffeine after 3
p.m. Bring some peace and relaxation to the end of your day and set yourself up
for a restful night of sleep by developing a bedtime ritual. A bedtime
ritual can include reading, meditation, a nice cup of herbal tea or decaffeinated
tea, a warm glass of milk, into your routine really–it’s whatever that helps
you wind down at the end of a busy and hectic day. Speaking of winding down at the end of
the day we should mention sleep. Making sure that you receive enough quality
sleep is another important aspect of life that nursing students often just
forego. When you’re super busy and stressed you may have trouble falling
asleep or staying asleep or choose to go to bed later each night as you work hard
to finish all of your assignments. But the battery that is your body needs
recharging or it will stop working. And your brain not only rests during sleep,
it needs sleep to store and process memory. So you’ll find it a lot harder to
remember what’s on your midterm if you never let your brain rest.
Do your best to sleep sufficient hours, typically between 7 and 9 hours a night,
and sleep consistent hours. Sleeping eight hours per night is good going to
bed and waking up at the same time every day is even better as it helps your body
develop a dependable routine. Try to only sleep one hour longer on the weekends
than you usually do on the weekdays. Over sleeping can actually cause sleep
deprivation later on in the week. Start your day right, use your morning to
take care of yourself. Depending on your habits and preferences incorporate
meditation, exercise, or a hearty breakfast into your morning. You’ll be
more productive when you start your day right. Speaking of breakfast…
Eat real food even if it’s basic it’s better than a vending machine which is
usually filled with foods filled with empty carbs or salty fatty chips. These
foods aren’t doing your brain any favors even if they do feel better on your
wallet. Eating better doesn’t have to break the bank. If you do need assistance
with affording groceries you can apply for the Supplemental Nutrition
Assistance Program or (SNAP) benefits program. Also, don’t forget to drink
plenty of water and stay hydrated! Another aspect of self-care that many
folks incorporate into their lives is meditation. Meditation is a habitual
process of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts. You can use
it to increase awareness of yourself in your surroundings and many people think
of it as a way to reduce stress and develop concentration. There are multiple
benefits to meditation including reducing stress, controlling anxiety,
enhancing self-awareness, increasing your attention span, and improving your sleep.
Let’s give meditation ago with a 10-minute guided meditation recorded
especially for you by Dr. Natalie Wilson from the UCSF School of Nursing. Find
yourself in a quiet space or find a quiet space, allow your eyes to close
gently and be still be here. Again allow your eyes to gently close begin to breathe in and out of your nose and notice the breath. In and out. Breathe
in through your nose and feel the breath flow through your nostrils and fill your
lungs and allow the air to release out. Again in through your nose and then
slowly allow the air to leave your mouth. Just breathe as you feel the air come in
and out, notice the sound of your breath as it comes in in circles out. Like the
wave and the ocean as it comes to the shore
in and out. Feel soles of your feet on the ground your feet attached to your ankles your
legs your knees your thighs feel your butt in the chair, feel the chair
supporting you, feel your belly your stomach as you
breathe in and out. Allow the breath to expand your stomach
and up expand your chest then release saying I am here. Now imagine in your minds a white light
coming in through the ceiling down through the center of your head. The
white light coming from a universe, down to the sky down through the ceiling
through the room down the center of your head down the forehead down your neck
down your shoulders and notice any tension in your neck shoulders and allow
the light to pull around the area where you feel the tension and allow that
light to expand and breathe. Continue to notice the breath as your
chest rises and falls. With every breath the light fills up all cells of your
body flooding them with calm peace full healing allow your body to bathe in the
light. And as other thoughts begin to enter
your mind keep returning your mind to following the breath in and out. Now allow the light to expand in your
body and expand past your body into the room filling up the room and allowing
the room to get brighter with all the light. Now imagine that light beginning to glow
and become a warm yellow orange light in the room everything you need is here everything you need is here and breathe. Now imagine that life is now coming back
to you and filling up your body allow the light
to now funnel back into your body down your spine straight down through the
earth connecting through your legs through your feet down your spine
through the earth the planet breathe and you’re gonna take a deep breath in
and out in and out. You are a part of the universe, no less
than the trees and the stars you have a right to be here there is no doubt the
universe is unfolding just as it should be at peace for you are enough. Breathe.
And when you feel ready come back to your body, come back to your breath, feel
your feet on the floor, your butts and back on the chair. Come back to the room
and gently open your eyes. And breathe. Realize that in order to give to others
you must give to yourself the practice of mindfulness. Meditation allows you to
quiet your mind and fill your body with love, acceptance, power, and healing. Namaste Self-care doesn’t only have to be about
meditation. It can also incorporate getting your body moving. Restore your
mind, body, and spirit by spending time in nature. Go for a walk or a bike ride and
breathe in some fresh air! Don’t have access to a park or green space nearby?
You can buy a few small plants and spend time tending them each day. There are so
many benefits from regular physical activity from reducing stress, releasing
endorphins (and these are chemicals that have a naturally relaxing and calming
effect on the body), improved memory increased energy, improved sleep, improved focus and so much more I understand that exercise can seem overwhelming to some,
but going to the gym is not the only option to get physical activity. You can
take the stairs instead of the elevator, grab a friend or two and take a walk
around campus, or go out with your friends to a club and dance a little bit
the possibilities are endless! Now let’s talk about what I like to call “me time”.
So no matter how busy you are you have to schedule in time for yourself. If this
means taking a nap, coloring in a fun coloring book, reading a novel, listening
to music, watching YouTube videos etc find some time in your busy day to do it.
Once you map out your day to day schedule you are bound to find some gaps
in which you can implement some me-time or some time that is just for you.
Another thing to consider is protecting your time. While we are in school, and
eventually in the workplace, there are going to be numerous asks being made of
you. It is important to be able to establish and maintain professional
boundaries in order to preserve your well-being Know that it is okay to say no to
requests of your time that you cannot accommodate. If you are interested in
the request being made of you, you should also feel free to propose a timeline
that works for you and your schedule. The trick here is establishing a balanced
workload for yourself, so that way you do not become overwhelmed and compromise
your own well-being. Developing a routine. So during school your scheduled is
packed and new things can come up throughout the day. Establishing
structure through a daily routine provides a sense of familiarity, comfort,
and stability. It’s reassuring to know that there are certain things that you
can expect throughout the day, especially when everything else can seem so hectic.
As a part of your weekly schedule write down regular mealtimes
for example breakfast at 7:30, lunch at noon, a snack at 4:00 p.m.,
and dinner at 7:00. And regular sleep intervals hopefully between the hours of
10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Take a shower first thing in the morning to help you wake up
or at night to help you calm down and get you to bed. And come up with
comforting bedtime rituals maybe you read, for fun, or journal for 20 minutes
before setting down and turning off the lights.
Stick to your daily routine as much as possible. Living in isolation from others
can take away from your health and well-being. A support system might
consist of friends, family members, partners, a therapist or other health
professionals, teachers, lecturers, and instructors, colleagues, classmates, and
other community members. You’ll want to connect with people who are empathetic,
thoughtful, and open-minded. Try and fit in a social activity once per day
whether that’s grabbing coffee or lunch with a friend, attending an event on
campus or calling a friend or family member. At college and university it’s
particularly important to find supportive instructors and
administrators. Having a faculty or staff member as a part of your support system
can be very helpful in the event you need additional academic support and
just don’t know where to start. Additionally, it is helpful to have
people that you can count on in each of your classes. They can help fill you in
on anything that you missed in class if you were absent for
any reason, share and compare notes with you, and help you study when it comes
time for exam season. Use your campus resources early and often.
Now having shared all of this good advice sometimes you can be doing
everything right in terms of eating sleeping and taking care of yourself and
it might still not be enough. That is OK! Most colleges and universities have
support services for these exact reasons. Whether it be mental health and
counseling services health services, spiritual services, academic support or
tutoring. While you may have to pay for some of these services like counseling
or seeing a school psychiatrist, most colleges have a certain number of visits
built into their tuition. So use them! If you have free counseling why not go, if
you have free tutoring why not go? Even if you feel fine you’ll be surprised at
how much help talking to someone or just talking through a problem set might be.
Your campus might offer wellness events throughout the semester as well which may include animal therapy or paint nights! Lots of free stuff is given away and it
gives you an opportunity to learn about all the different resources you have at
your disposal to be the healthiest most successful you possible. Every single one
of us has a “Why” and each of our “Why’s” will be different and distinct from one
another’s the “Why” is the purpose, cause, or belief that has driven and continues to
drive every one of us in our life journeys. For all of us our “why” has led us
to choosing what has been named the most trusted profession in the country year
after year, nursing. When times get rough, as they most definitely will over the
course of your nursing education, take a moment to remember your “why” and all of
the people and life events that have helped forge it. Use this to ground and
motivate yourself to keep going. At the next FirstGen RN student group meeting
we’d love for you to have reflected on a couple of questions before attending. The
first is how have I been taking care of myself and what are barriers that have
gotten in the way? How can I support others and
build community? And lastly what are one to two short-term goals that you plan to
take to better care for yourself? Thank you so much for listening to our module
on self-care and we hope to see you soon at the next FirstGen RN student
group meeting!

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