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Nursing and Self-Preservation: Balancing Care for Patients and Self in the UK

Nursing in the UK is incredibly rewarding but also highly demanding. With the NHS facing increased pressure post-pandemic, staff shortages, and rising patient numbers, nurses are often pushed to their limits. Self-preservation is vital to maintaining a sustainable career and providing excellent patient care. Here, we explore practical strategies for UK nurses to balance their professional and personal well-being.

Understanding Self-Preservation

Self-preservation involves taking steps to protect one's physical, emotional, and mental health. For nurses, this means balancing patient care with self-care. It’s not selfish; it's necessary for sustained professional practice. Prioritizing well-being helps prevent burnout and ensures consistent, compassionate care. Few to mention and one could be making sure you observe proper body mechanics in moving and handling patients so that you do not hurt or damage your back; call for help or someone to assist you in turning a patients' position; seek some advise from your Health and Well-being team who offers support and therapeutic sessions in the event that you encounter traumatic events during your shift. Your body and very self is important and taking these actions can help you prevent exhaustion and will help you deliver the best quality care your patient needs.

The Impact of Burnout

Burnout, marked by exhaustion and detachment, is a serious issue among UK nurses. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) reports high stress levels, leading to absenteeism and reduced care quality. Real-life stories from nursing forums highlight burnout's severe impact, underscoring the need for effective self-preservation. The workload itself is truly challenging but added pressure from your colleagues and the other factors from your surrounding environment adds up to exhaustion. We Filipinos, are very hard- working indeed, but coping in a stressful environment where you do not receive the support and understanding that you are looking for makes it even harder for us to cope, even more so when we are miles away from our loved ones and immediate support system. That's why its very important that you find a hobby that you can focus on like reading, watching a movie, or do a videoke with friends to release that tension that's burdening you from work.

Strategies for Physical Self-Care

Maintaining physical health is essential. Nurses should prioritize regular exercise, even a daily walk or short workout. Healthy eating can be challenging, but planning nutritious meals and snacks helps. Adequate sleep, despite irregular shifts, is crucial. Creating a restful environment and a consistent sleep routine can improve sleep quality.

Emotional and Mental Health Preservation

Managing stress is key. Techniques like mindfulness, meditation, and deep-breathing exercises can help nurses stay calm. Professional counseling and peer support groups provide spaces to discuss emotional challenges. Recognizing early signs of mental health issues and seeking help is crucial, with resources available through the NHS and organizations like the RCN.

Setting Boundaries and Managing Workload

Setting boundaries prevents overcommitment and burnout. Nurses should feel empowered to say no to additional responsibilities when necessary. Effective time management involves prioritizing tasks, delegating when possible, and ensuring time for breaks and self-care during shifts. The NHS offers resources to help manage workloads and stress.

The Role of the Workplace Environment

A supportive work environment is crucial. Management should address staff well-being, offering flexible scheduling and wellness programs. Open communication and mental health support can foster a healthier workplace. Initiatives like the NHS Health and Wellbeing Framework provide valuable resources.

Building a Support Network

A strong support network, including family, friends, and colleagues, is invaluable. Peer support and mentorship help navigate professional challenges. Engaging with professional organizations like the RCN offers additional resources and a sense of community.

Continuing Professional Development

Lifelong learning and professional growth are forms of self-preservation. Nurses should pursue continuing education and career advancement while balancing professional development with personal time. The NHS and professional bodies offer various training programs tailored to nurses' needs.

Self-preservation is essential for nurses to maintain their health and well-being while providing high-quality patient care. By adopting strategies for physical, emotional, and mental health, setting boundaries, and building supportive environments, nurses can achieve a balanced and sustainable career. Healthcare institutions and policymakers must support these efforts, ensuring that nurses have the resources they need.


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