If you’re nurse who’s caring for patients at your workplace and also taking care of one or more family members at the same time, you’re doing double duty. And for the most part, you wouldn’t have it any other way.
Your dedication and commitment are undeniable. When family members such as aging parents or a spouse with a disability are involved, you probably can’t imagine not caring for them. Still, it can be a challenge to be a family caregiver.
Add to that the demands of nursing patients at work, and sometimes you may feel you’re in a never-ending loop of caring for others. Before you’re overwhelmed by the emotional and physical costs of doing double duty, remember the one other person who needs care: you.
Self-care isn’t selfish —it’s sensible
Self-care is a term that’s been used a lot in the last few years. For good reason. It means you’ve wisely decided to be an advocate for your own health and well-being. After all, when you take care of yourself you can take better care of others. Everyone is better off.
Even the American Nurses Association’s Code of Ethics reminds nurses that “the same duties that we owe to others we owe to ourselves.” Those duties include promoting health and safety—including your own.
Here are four things you can do to help handle your dual role as working nurse and family caregiver.
1. Ask for help
Don’t be afraid to ask others to help with some of your to-do’s. Caring for patients and a loved one are full-time jobs. Try to figure out with coworkers or family members how to get things done so you have time to decompress after a long day, week or month.
2. Take care of your body
You know the drill, but it never hurts to be reminded of all the ways to take care of your physical health:
• Get needed health screenings if you’re behind • Eat nutritious meals and try to avoid mindless snacking • Stay at a healthy weight • Be active, whether it’s with gentle yoga or an invigorating run
3. Feed your mind with good things
Try to replace negative thought patterns with thoughts that are life-affirming and promote joy. Use relaxation techniques, connect with spiritual activities or seek counseling. Engage in creative behaviors and embrace stimulating “play” like line dancing or learning a new instrument.
4. Nurture your relationships
Think about your communications with others. Are you being truthful about your feelings and concerns? Do you notice a lack of harmony with others at work or home? Might others feel neglected because your attention is elsewhere? Maintaining strong connections with important people in your life is a big part of self-care.
Be a self-care-giver—everyone benefits
By taking time to focus on even small ways to relax, rest and rejuvenate, you can return to the vital role of double-duty caregiver, ready to give of yourself 100%.