How to Practice Self Care, Even if You’re Short on Time!

In the world of healthcare, exhaustion is ever-present. Personal wellbeing and self care somehow slide to the bottom of the to-do list. Everything (even laundry) seems to take priority over taking care of yourself. 

And, if we are really being honest, even when you want to do something for yourself, no matter how small, you are often too exhausted! I know that feeling all too well! I know you do, too!

We recently ended another week of recognizing healthcare providers. As we tuck away the ‘tokens of appreciation’ our hospitals gave as a thanks for our hard work, I wanted to share a few wellness ideas. These ideas will help you show gratitude for yourself and all your hard work! Ideally they will help you feel more refreshed, renewed, and reenergized for your next shift. They may just be more practical than a pen or a tote bag too! 🙂 

While this past week recognized Nurses, these tips are perfect for any one in healthcare, no matter what type of provider you are! 

I encourage you to spend a few minutes each day focused on making yourself a priority. Start small and see if you can make a new habit. Hopefully I can inspire you to start a wellness routine. Even deciding to devote five minutes of your time to your health and well being each day is a great start! Here are some great suggestions and small, but simple steps to get started!

Self Care.

Self care is such a ‘buzzy’ word right now. I prefer to think of it as ‘whole provider wellness‘. Taking care of ourselves is important, in any line of work. Our home lives, relationships, and our mental and physical health depend on it.

Spending a few minutes each day, devoted to wellness can be a buffer to help diffuse any stress, tension, or frustration we encounter during our day. Focusing inward allows us to do an honest check in with ourselves. If we know how we are feeling and what is affecting us, we can address it and modify our actions. 

Tuning in.

Recognizing areas where we feel exhausted or mentally taxed, can give us insight and a game plan to refocus. Small efforts toward recharging those areas can help us be more present; both at home with loved ones, and at work. 

You are not just the job you do, but all the interactions you have each day.  The people you encounter and the lives you touch, also affect you just as much. So think of taking care of yourself from the perspective of your ‘whole self’. A way to ensure you stay compassionate and effective as a family member or healthcare provider. 

Your continuous hard work is noticed and appreciated, and not just during a recognition week!  So give yourself a few minutes to devote to personal wellness. You make everyone and everything else a priority each day. You deserve the right to make your health a priority starting now! If you missed my post about why it’s time to focus on provider wellness in the healthcare setting, you can check that out HERE.

There are so many ways to show yourself love and care. To thank your body and mind for what it does each day. There is no one ‘best’ way to go about it, so start with something that sounds fun, and see how it makes you feel.  If you aren’t sure where to begin…think simple.

Here are a few ideas to encourage you find the time to relax, reflect, and be grateful for all you accomplish each day!

Reading.

If you are a morning person, this is a great idea while the coffee brews or before anyone else is awake. Anytime you can enjoy a little silence or few distractions. 

Alternately, if you aren’t a morning person, spending a few minutes reading at the end of each day can signal a shift in mindset and allow your body to prepare to wind down at the end of the day. By being consistent and using a specific ‘routine’ before bed you can shift your mind into a rest and relaxation mode if you make it a habit. It gives your body the signal that ‘work is over, and it’s time to slip into relaxation mode’. 

A helpful tip: 

The key here is to pick something fun, and ideally unrelated to healthcare. Maybe a biography, fictional book, or a quick beach read. Anything that you can look forward to reading a little each day is a great choice. If it feels like work, or you are slogging it out trying to get through the pages, move on! Pick something else. Wellness should be something fun that you look forward to doing. 

Stretch.

This is another great option to add into a daytime or nighttime routine. It’s also great if you are short on time. Focus on stretches that open the chest, and allow you to really stretch your arms wide. Take a few deep breaths. Pause as your lungs are full, take note of your feelings and surroundings, and then release it all as you breathe out. Release the expectations, the tensions, the what if’s and the mental dialogue. Spend those minutes stretching and focus on what is going on with your body. Is anything tight, achy, or needs attention? Just a few minutes of stretching can help lower stress hormones and heart rate. 

Bubble bath.

You can make this as fancy as you want (think bath salts, fizzy bath soaps, music, candles etc). In a pinch, a squirt of shampoo under the faucet will also do the trick for bubbles. I like to put out a ‘fancy towel’ and slippers if I remember and have time.

Upgrade your routine.

Put a little luxury into your hygiene routine. Spend a few extra minutes on your morning (or evening) routine. Do you have a fancy moisturizer or face cream you’ve been ‘saving’ for a special occasion? Today’s the day!

Put it to use. Take a little extra time and luxuriate in the process of applying these products. Consciously remind yourself that you are nourishing your skin and preparing it for the day ahead or helping to restore it at night. Pampering yourself is a great self care step and can kick-start a wellness routine. 

A helpful tip:

If you are super short on time, try this option. Keep a nice hand lotion near your sink (or in your scrub pocket). Even if you just have 15 seconds to apply it after you wash your hands, take the time to do so. Focus on the simple act of applying it, regardless if you are going to wash or hand sanitize it away shortly. It’s a reminder that you (and your skin) are worth nourishing and protecting!

*The secret is in those small unconscious habits that, when done repeatedly, can reinforce feelings of wellness and self care. The habits and their benefits are formed in the small moments and gestures when we give them our full attention.

Head outside.

This is a great idea for your day off or when you get home in the evening.

Go for a walk outside and (when possible) leave your phone at home. Spending time in nature is wonderful for mental health, and walking is great for physical health. If you have a trail or path near your home, try to see how many different animals you can observe or what types of tree are indigenous to the area. Appreciating the beauty of nature and enjoying the changes that accompany each season can help with perspective and provide good parallels for many of life’s changes.

If you’re in the city and surrounded by concrete, or the scenery is just not that exciting, you should still strive to spend time outdoors. Focus on feeling the wind in your hair or the sun on your face (just remember sunscreen first). These are simple everyday occurrences that can be wonderful, if we slow down long enough to join them. 

Meditation.

Meditation is another great option, but sometimes it’s hard to block out distractions, silence that ‘inner dialogue’, and let go of negative thoughts. If it’s something that works for you, absolutely add it to your day. Sometimes taking a few minutes after arriving home, but before getting out of the car can be an ideal time to pause, reflect, and take some mindful breaths. If you haven’t jumped on the meditation train, thats ok! There are so many other ways to practice self care. Go with what works for you. Once you get a routine established, you can work on fun new ways to practice wellness and self care.

Hands on.

If you have the time, and budget, consider getting a massage. Have someone work out all those stiff, tired muscles. Releasing the built-up tension and stress will feel amazing. Ask your significant other for a massage, if getting one professionally is not in the budget. If you’re solo, you can foam roll your muscles for stress release. 

And, if all else fails…find a great song, crank up the tunes and dance! (Bonus points if you also sing!) Even if your voice isn’t Grammy-worthy, it’s great to turn on the music and dance away the stress. Try it for just one song. I’m sure you’ll love it! 

These are just a few quick and inexpensive ways you can focus on wellness. I’ll be adding more ideas for when you have more time, or want to switch things up. 

What are some ways you practice wellness?  Do you already have a self-care routine in place? If so, please share! Leave a comment below with some of your ideas and what works best for you! Join the conversation! I would love to hear from you!!

In wellness, 

Dee

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