Looking after your own mental health as an agency nurse

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How to Look After Your Mental Health as an Agency Nurse

By their very nature, agency nurses tend to everyone else’s emotional and physical needs. Caregiving is a primary role for any nurse. From the moment they enter nursing school until the day they retire, agency nurses are taught to prioritise the health and well-being of others. Oftentimes, that causes their own mental and physical health to suffer.

Over the last 18 months, the global pandemic has shone a light on the need for nurses and other healthcare professionals to take steps to protect their psychological health. Small lockdowns and border closings personally affect hardworking nurses and midwives. Taking time out for themselves is not selfish. It is a necessity to preserve their health so they can continue to care for others.

Focusing on everyone else can leave nurses and midwives at a loss for how to take care of their own well-being. Here are some helpful tips for keeping a healthy state of mind.

Stay connected with friends

Personal connections are an integral part of maintaining psychological resilience. Physical distancing and other covid mitigation efforts can make it more challenging – but not impossible – to enjoy time with your pals. Making use of technology is a great way to bridge that gap for now. Consider having a weekly check-in with a friend or group of friends over Zoom, Google Meet, or any other platform designed to help people keep in touch virtually. It may not have the same feel as getting together in person, but meeting for weekly tea or sharing meals from your respective homes while chatting online can help travelling nurses and midwives focus on themselves.

Indulge in some “me” time

Everything to everyone is the mantra of most healthcare professionals. Nurses and midwives can be conditioned to believe that giving precedent to their needs is selfish. The exact opposite is true. Practicing self-care makes them better caregivers. This means engaging in regular “me” time, where the focus is on engaging in activities that make them happy. Carve out some dedicated time each week to enjoy hobbies, get a massage, or take a walk to enjoy some quiet time in nature. Not sure what activity to choose? There are no right or wrong options. Pick something that brings joy and promotes relaxation, and commit to it for a set number of hours each week. Here are some tips on 20 amazing me-time activities.

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness-based stress techniques can be a lifesaver for agency nurses and midwives. Mindfulness exercises do not take much time and can be done just about anywhere (including during work-day break times). Not sure where to start? Pick a quiet spot, sit comfortably, and then begin by taking four to five long, slow, and deep breaths. Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth, focusing attention on how the body and mind feel to become calmer and more settled. The caveat: they must be practiced regularly to enjoy the full benefits.

Here are some great mindful apps:

Seek help when needed

There is no shame in recognising and seeking out the help of a mental healthcare professional when struggling. Agency nurses and midwives have challenging jobs under normal circumstances. Toss in a global pandemic and the stress factor elevates exponentially. When nurses and midwives are unsure how to take time for themselves, or have committed to it and still grapple with mental health issues, it is time to seek out counsel with a professional who can help.

Help Mental Health Resources & Services:

Life-changing conversations

First Choice Care helps its agency nurses and midwives maintain their mental health, even during the most trying times. We believe in having life-changing conversations focused on ensuring our team has the support needed to navigate through challenging situations. We encourage others to ask nurses and midwives if they are OK. Listen to them. Encourage them to prioritise their mental health and check in with them often.

Interested in joining a team that recognises and endorses your mental and physical well-being? Apply to work with First Choice Care Nursing Agency today.

Join the team that cares about you as much as you care about your patients