Winter pressures: why nurses' well-being and self-care is so vital

A rise in flu cases will add to the pressures on older people’s nurses this winter, and the challenges could negatively affect staff health and well-being

A rise in flu cases will add to the pressures on older people’s nurses this winter
Picture: iStock

This winter is predicted to be tough for health and social care due to the threat of widely circulating flu. Natural immunity to flu will be lower because of reduced exposure over the last three winters, coupled with an increase in COVID-19 cases.

However, I cannot remember a winter when it was not tough, nor a spring, summer or autumn, and I am sure that is the same for most of you. Pressures feel constant rather than seasonal, with no end in sight.

We have all been experiencing a prolonged and unprecedented increase in demand on our time and resources, with much of the focus on capacity and waiting lists.

As we head towards the end of the year, which for many is a time for reflection, I encourage you all to consider how these ongoing pressures have affected you and your sense of well-being.

Looking after yourselves and your colleagues is vital

Being asked to do more with less is a constant struggle, and being unable to do what we may consider to be the right thing for older people in our care can challenge us emotionally, ethically and morally. These challenges can have a negative effect on health and well-being.

Therefore, looking after yourself and your colleagues is more important than ever.

Self-care activities aim to maintain, restore or improve health and will mean something different to us all, but while we all know the value of self-care, how many of us actually practise it?

I encourage you all to show care and compassion to yourselves in the same way you demonstrate it to those in your care. Self-care is not self-indulgent, but a necessity, and one of the most effective ways of reducing burnout and improving your physical, mental and emotional health.

If you are struggling please seek support. We cannot care for others if we do not care for ourselves.

Visit our free well-being space for tips and techniques to care for yourself during challenging times

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