The rigors of nursing can take a toll on nurses who don’t prioritize self-care. Nurses who are tired or overworked run the risk of becoming sick, anxious or depressed. They are also more likely to make mistakes at work, putting not only patient safety but also their own careers at risk.

What Does Self-Care Mean?

Self-care means taking the time to do things that make you happy, relax your mind, energize your body and soothe your spirit, all while redirecting your attention away from work.

Why Is Self-Care Important for Nurses?

Self-care aids in maintaining health, sustaining stamina and strengthening mental capabilities. Stressed-out nurses are susceptible to a multitude of medical conditions:

  • Arteriosclerosis
  • Diabetes
  • Compromised immune system
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Hyperinsulinemia
  • Hypertension
  • Burnout

What Are 8 Self-Care Tips for Nurses?

Self-care techniques will be different for every nurse since personalities and interests vary. To find techniques that work best for you, think about what brings you joy and helps you unplug from work. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Fortify Yourself: A nutritious diet, proper sleep and exercise are paramount to making sure you stay physically and mentally strong.
  2. Decompress at Work: Nurses need breaks, given the physical and mental demands of their work. Take a moment now and then to tune out and rest your mind, refresh your body and regain your energy. Having a snack, drinking water, stretching your muscles or taking a short walk are all quick ways to decompress.
  3. Seek Assistance: Difficult situations are a part of nursing. Hostile patients, uncooperative co-workers and unsustainable hours are some examples. If you feel overwhelmed, it helps to talk to your co-workers, but you may also need to seek guidance from your nurse leader or someone in a higher position.
  4. Leave Work Behind: When your shift is over, you’re done for the day. Learning to let go of work worries and frustrations can help you recharge. Tomorrow is another day to be the best nurse possible. Spending time with family, watching TV, reading a book and immersing yourself in a hobby are some ways to redirect the focus away from work. In other words, concentrate on you.
  5. Learn to Say No: Obviously, obligations like jury duty or a dentist appointment are exceptions. Being selective about invitations you accept, for instance, helps you reclaim time for self-care.
  6. Stop Rushing: Trim your to-do list by getting help from your spouse and children whenever possible. Packing lunches, doing household chores and sharing responsibility for pickups and drop-offs are some items to consider.
  7. Find Your Bliss: Make time for activities that make you happy. Hiking, traveling, entertaining and crafting are some examples.
  8. Add Fun to Your Day: Patient care is a serious matter. To offset the stresses of nursing, it helps to have something to look forward to at the end of your shift. It could be as simple as stopping for an iced beverage, listening to your favorite music or hanging out with friends.

When nurses are well-rested and alert, they are better able to focus on the needs of their patients without becoming stressed out or distracted. With good self-care, nurses can increase physical and mental capacity and lower the likelihood of making mistakes to provide safe, quality patient care.

Learn more about EMU’s online RN to BSN program.


The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing: Practicing Self-Care for Nurses: A Nursing Program Initiative 5 Simple Self-Care Practices for Busy Nurses. We’re Not Talking a Spa Day.

PsychCentral: What Self-Care Is — and What It Isn’t

Psychology Today: Self Care 101

Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association: 5 Self-Care Ideas for Nurses

Nurse & Midwife Support: Self-Care for Nurses and Midwives