A nurse’s role includes many responsibilities: getting patients’ health histories, administering medications and treatments, performing diagnostic tests, and collaborating with doctors and the health care team. Nurses teach patients and families how to manage health conditions. Nurses work in all kinds of settings including hospitals, clinics, doctor’s offices, schools and government agencies. Skilled home health and hospice nurses take their skills on the road and provide care at their patients’ homes.
At the heart of it, nurses are caregivers. They juggle a lot of duties and mounds of paperwork as they give patients the very best care. Nurses are dedicated professionals. However, while caring for others is rewarding, it also can be tiring.
I asked Sharon Holmes, RN, ComForCare/At Your Side Home Care’s director of nursing and accreditation to share some tips on how to nurture body, mind and spirit. Nurses and other health professionals, as well as family caregivers, can benefit from her practical suggestions:
Make low-stress physical exercise part of your routine. Doing yoga or walking in nature can help restore your body, mind and spirit, especially when done with others. Various studies show yoga can lower heart rates as well as blood pressure, and it increases muscle relaxation and breathing capacity. Walking in nature can help relieve stress. According to Sharon, “Being part of an exercise community, such as a yoga class or walking group, can help motivate you when you just don’t feel up to it.”
Connect personally with the ones in your care. Be with them – take time to be in their shoes. It is easy to let the necessary acts of physical and medical care overwhelm the personal connection. “One of the greatest rewards of caring for others,” Sharon said, “is just being there with them and celebrating the small successes – seeing wounds heal or conditions improve.” She finds joy in seeing a patient smile.
Keep learning and sharing. While nurses sometimes must poke and prod their patients, at the core, they are teachers who share relevant medical information and demonstrate necessary care skills. When patients and their family caregivers know how manage medical conditions, it fosters independence and greater health. That success nurtures the body, mind and spirit of each person involved in their care.
Watch out for others. Caregivers – whether a nurse, a certified nursing assistant or family caregiver – may not notice signs of caregiver stress. Inertia, pride, fatigue or habit can get in the way of self-care. According to Sharon, “Sometimes you need extra support. Doing the same things in the same way all on your own contributes to stress.” Be an advocate and provide the extra nudge to help overworked colleagues or family members nurture their mind, body and spirit.
Bask a moment in the limelight. Nurses and caregivers of every sort do so much for so many. Those they care for aren’t always in the best of spirits and may fail to express their appreciation. Nurses care from the heart – a job that requires compassion, purpose and motivation. Sharon told me, “I knew from the time I was six I wanted to be a nurse.” In contrast, family caregivers are sometimes thrust into their role with little warning or training. No matter the circumstances, these dedicated care providers step up to meet the challenge – for that, we thank you!
Do you need some time to nurture your body, mind or spirit? ComForCare/At Your Side provides in-home companionship and respite care so family members can get the break they need. For more information, download Signs It May Be Time to Consider Home Care.