Fast-paced, stressful, intense are just a few words that can be used to describe the nursing profession. As a nurse, you’ve taken on the incredible responsibility of caring for others – a responsibility that can sometimes feel like an immense weight on your shoulders. Given the burden of care as well as the long hours and minimal breaks, it’s no wonder the mental well-being of nurses often dwindles significantly.

Many studies have pinpointed this issue, asking the simple but poignant question: who is nursing our nurses? One study revealed shocking mental health effects nurses were struggling with; nearly 50% of nurses surveyed had physical and mental diseases. 49.3% of these nurses suffered from severe exhaustion, while 27.6% and 27% dealt with severe insomnia fatigue and weakness. Approximately 38.8% of nurses had severe nervousness and 13.1% suffered from depression.

While these statistics may strike you as discouraging, there are ways to avoid and overcome such challenges. Specifically, there are plenty of strategies nurses can use to look after their mental health and boost their mental wellness. Here are our top five to get you started.

1. Get Your Rest

Sleep is incredibly important, especially for healthcare professionals like nurses. Poor sleep can result in poor social and professional performance. When you’re a nurse, inadequate professional performance can be dire; in some cases, it could even be the difference between life and death. Not to mention, sleep and mental health have a close relationship, meaning lack of sleep can have adverse effects on your mental wellness.

In many ways, sleep is a form of meditation. Much like traditional conscious meditation, sleeping forces us to abandon our thoughts and surrender ourselves to the present moment. It allows us to escape our stressors and relax completely within our bodies.

2. Practice Physical Self-Care

As a nurse, you take care of your patients’ bodies with the utmost attention, compassion, and care. Why would you not prioritize your own physical being in the same way, treating it with the same exact respect?

To boost your mental well-being as a nurse, make sure you are practicing physical self-care regularly. This can manifest in a variety of ways, including eating well, working out, going for walks, stretching daily, or practicing yoga. Choose what feels right for you and make it a part of your regular routine. By practicing physical self-care, you’re ensuring that you’re in the best shape to be looking after patients. 

3. Boost Your Knowledge

Believe it or not, making a conscious effort to improve your understanding of medical concepts can better your mental health as well. For example, if you feel overwhelmed at work because you’re not quite as knowledgeable as some of the other nurses on certain subjects, take the initiative to change that.

If you’re not as well-versed in bloodborne pathogens as you’d like to be, take a training course. If you need a refresher on how to effectively administer chest compression’s, read up on some new techniques and practice on first aid dummies. Not only will you be more informed as a result, but you’ll feel empowered and proud of yourself for reclaiming control over your career.

4. Talk It Out

As a caretaker, it can be hard to reach out for help on your own. But when it comes to your mental well-being, it is sometimes necessary. If you’re feeling particularly stressed, overwhelmed, or rundown from your job, don’t hesitate to discuss these issues with those around you.

It could be a close friend, your mother, your partner – tap into your social network to find the mental health support you need when you need it most. Don’t feel comfortable discussing your mental health with a loved one? That’s completely understandable. In this case, consider speaking to a licensed psychologist. Doing so will give you the opportunity to explore your current mental state, but it will allow you to develop concrete solutions alongside an experienced professional. They will be well-equipped to give you the tools you need to improve your mental wellness.  

5. Participate in Social Activities with Colleagues

When it comes to boosting your mental well-being, solidarity is everything. It helps knowing you’re not alone and that other people are in the exact same boat as you. With that in mind, connect to your fellow nurses at work by partaking in social events whenever possible. Whether it’s a group coffee date in the cafeteria or a virtual game night, embrace the opportunities for interaction. Socialization can stave off feelings of loneliness and isolation, and increase your feelings of happiness.

Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare industry. As a valued member of this demographic, you need to do everything in your power to look after yourself. Of course, an integral part of this process is prioritizing your mental well-being. By taking care of yourself, you’ll be better equipped to take care of others.