Constant nursing pressures underline the importance of self-care

Constant pressures in nurses’ professional lives affect health and well-being, self-care – such as singing along to music in the car – may prove therapeutic

A happy woman at the wheel of a car singing along to music
Picture: iStock

‘Pressures feel constant rather than seasonal – and unrelenting.’ This sentiment was expressed at a recent meeting of senior nurses and allied health professionals caring for older people. It resonated with me and other attendees as I am sure it resonates with many of you.

The sustained increase in demand for health and social care services has resulted in many staff feeling they are in a state of permanent alert, fighting fires as they strive to provide care that considers the whole person’s needs. This short-term approach, borne out of necessity, makes it difficult to even think about the effects on long-term reform.

Major reforms in adult social care have stalled affecting us all

In its November report Reforming adult social care in England, the National Audit Office highlighted that two years into the government’s ten-year plan to reform adult social care in England, major pledges have stalled, including support for staff well-being.

‘Self-care must be self-directed because it means something different for each person. For me, it’s reliving my youth by singing along in the car to Duran Duran’

The sector remains under significant pressure with key concerns being long waiting lists, workforce shortages and costs for providers and users. These daily challenges, coupled with the continued squeeze on living costs and global conflicts, have an insidious, cumulative effect on the health and well-being of us all.

How can self-care support you?

Self-Care Week is an annual national awareness week marked between 13 and 19 November. Fittingly, the theme for 2023 is mind and body.

Self-care involves developing, protecting, maintaining and improving your health and well-being by taking care of yourself. I encourage you to consider how self-care may support you to cope with the professional and personal challenges you’ve experienced over the past year and those to come.

While Self-Care Week offers suggestions for resources, it can feel trite to simply signpost to these. Self-care must be self-directed because it means something different for each person. For me, it’s reliving my youth by singing along in the car to Duran Duran.

Whatever self-care means for you, please protect some time in your day to practise it.

Have you tried RCNi Plus yet?

RCNi Plus offers unlimited access to RCNi Learning, Nursing Older People, Nursing Standard, our other specialist journals and RCNi Revalidation Portfolio to store your CPD for revalidation. Use the discount code TRIALPLUS to get it half price for three months. Click here for more details