Nurses are generally compassionate people who love and care for others. However, we often take care of everyone else but ourselves.
Think about these questions: Do you care for yourself as you care for others? Do you feel that you give so much of yourself that you have nothing left to give others? Do you feel tired, stressed, or exhausted most days?
If you answered YES to any of these questions, it is time to disconnect from the world and connect to God.
Jesus knew the importance of rest and self-care. In Mark 6:30-31, Jesus offers rest to the disciples after an exhausting mission. “The apostles returned to Jesus from their ministry tour and told him all they had done and taught. Then Jesus said, ‘Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.’” Jesus knew the disciples could not do God’s work effectively without self-care. He knew they needed rest to be renewed and refreshed.
Stress and anxiety levels increase due to trials, disappointments, loss, ill-health, relationships, or pressure at work or school. With all the stressors in life, spiritual disconnect can occur. Many people turn away from God and feel disconnected from him, which ultimately increases stress levels and steals joy. Disappointments and trials in this world are inevitable. Inner turmoil develops when you strive in your own efforts and do not take time to rest in God’s presence. However, you can experience God’s peace and healing amid trials as you rest and spend time with him.
6 Tips for Self-care
How do you care for yourself during hard times and daily demands of life? Here are a few things I do that I find very helpful. I have included scripture for your reflection and meditation.
- Rather than dwelling on your problems and difficulties, take a break and do something fun. Go for a bike ride or a walk, meet a friend, cook a meal, dance, and enjoy life. Self-care is not something you naturally do. It is something that you must discipline yourself to do. Think about what makes you feel at peace, rested, refreshed, and then implement it into your daily life several times a week. Reflect on Isaiah 58:11: “The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.”
- Reading God’s word, listening to praise music, praying, and spending time in God’s presence will keep you in his peace. Caring for your mind, body, and spirit is the best gift you can give yourself. No one can do it for you. If you do not care for yourself, then burnout, fatigue, physical pain, or exhaustion may set in. It is important that you make an effort to take care of yourself so that you can effectively care for others. Reflect on Isaiah 26:3: “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you.”
- Minimize the feelings of being overwhelmed by daily tasks, demands, and issues. Stay calm and do not dwell on the problems you face. Focus on the good. Look at the problem as an opportunity to learn, grow, and mature in Christ. Accept your difficulties as a refining process that will develop your perseverance and character. Reflect on Romans 5:3-5: “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our heart with his love.”
- Remember the Three P’s: find your Purpose, find your Passion, and find a Person you can bless. This will help get your mind off yourself and your problems. Find something you love to do and do not let fear or doubt stop you from doing it. Do not be self-absorbed. Look for ways you can care for others. There is always someone who is going through a more difficult time than you. Find a way to use your purpose and passion to bless a person! Volunteer, make cookies for your neighbor, or share an encouraging word with your co-worker. Look for opportunities to share the gospel. Reflect on Matthew 16:24: “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross and follow me.”
- Do not feel guilty, fearful, anxious, condemned, or worried about anything. Easier said than done, right? Choose not to worry! If your mind begins to race, your heart beats fast, and you feel anxious, calm yourself down and relax by saying, “I will set my mind on Jesus. I can do anything. I am strong, equipped, and confident. I will face this day and any problem I encounter with peace, joy, and patience.” Develop friendships with people who will encourage you, build you up, pray for you, and want the best for you. Reflect on Proverbs 12:25: “Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.”
- Do not overcommit to too many things. Learn to say NO! If you are doing too many things, you will not have time for self-care. You do not have to be the greatest at all things. Be great at a few things and excel at those things. Remember Colossians 3:23: “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than people.”
You may be going full speed ahead every day and trying to keep up with the demands of life. You may be taking care of a sick loved one. You may be experiencing a divorce, or diagnosed with cancer, or you may be a single mom. You may be struggling to find a job or pay your bills. Yes, I have experienced every one of these, and more. I can tell you, no matter what you face there is HOPE in Jesus Christ!
When you are tired, feeling alone, uncertain, or afraid, rest in the power of Jesus Christ. He will hold you and carry you through every situation, but you have to do your part. Call on his name!
A Prayer for Self-care
Pray this prayer if you are ready to start over, give God your burdens, and be refreshed and renewed in your spirit.
Dear Lord, help me. Show me how to care for myself so that I can be strengthened to care for others. Forgive me for the times I have neglected my time with you. Give me wisdom to balance my life according to your will. Where I am weak, please make me strong. Where I am hurting, please heal me. When I am fearful, please release the fear. I pray for sound mind, purity of heart, and peace. I pray you teach me how to rest when my mind races. Show me how to live a balanced life and remove all distractions that come my way. I only want to walk through the doors you open, Lord. Thank you for forgiving me and loving me just as I am. Amen
May God’s peaceful presence rest upon you as you live for him today!
--Kathy McKinnon, MSN, BSN, Chaplain
Nursing Professor, Palm Beach Atlantic University