The core of nursing is care for others. While it is a rewarding and fulfilling career path, it can be exhausting for nurses who do not care for themselves in the same way they would care for a patient. While giving care to others, nurses tend to neglect care of themselves.

The stresses of a healthcare work environment can be particularly challenging for nurses because the profession is always changing. The role of the nurse is not stagnant, and with any rapid change comes stress.

“Nurses are responsible for meeting the needs of a growing population with an increasing number of comorbid conditions,” said Jill Price, PhD, MSN, RN, assistant dean of the RN-BSN online degree completion option at Chamberlain College of Nursing. “Nurses are instructed to do more with less, while still giving 100 percent to their patients. In such a high-stress environment, self-care is essential.”

Caring for Self

Caring for oneself starts with the individual nurse. Dr. Price advised, “Nurses should know their limitations and listen to their minds and bodies. If their minds need a break, they can engage in mental activities to de-stress, such as meditation, exercise, sleep or spending quality time with family.”

Eating well-balanced meals also helps nurses be at their best physically. Self-care is not always easy to incorporate in a daily routine, but if nurses put themselves first it can make a considerable difference in how they care for others.

Prioritizing Personal Needs

“My own personal care has changed throughout my career,” Dr. Price explained. “As I get older physically, I find myself unable to do the things I used to do when I was younger. At the same time, I feel emotionally and mentally stronger. I can now set aside time to prioritize my needs so I can be there for others at work and at home.”

Dr. Price recommends that nurses develop relaxation methods that assist with their physical and mental well-being. These may include biking, swimming or relaxing on the beach. She added, “When I am in a joyful, relaxed state of mind, I can give extraordinary care to all who encounter my path.”

Nurses who care for themselves can more effectively care for their patients and fellow healthcare professionals with the energy, mindset and physical capability required of the job. Nurses must keep their own minds and bodies healthy in order to deliver quality treatment, support and comfort to those in their care. Patients will thank them, and they will be better nurses for it.

How do you monitor and maintain your physical wellbeing?

  1. good reinforcement on how to care for yourself. Makes you really think just how important it is to take care of yourself.

  2. Sometimes as nurses we can be so busy caring for others we forget to care for ourselves–that includes mentally, physically and spiritually! Thanks for the reminder!

  3. With all due respect, your article is complete BS. In todays nursing culture 49 out of 50 United States allow for unlimited numbers of patients to be assigned to one nurse at one time; there is NO limit on nurse-patient ratios. Hospitals are businesses and as businesses they cut corners to boost profit levels. And that place is nurse staffing. Any licensed nurse who desires a job or wants to keep their existing one is strongly encouraged to NEVER speak up about understaffing or safety issues involved with overburdening nurses with heavy patient loads. And if they do—they will be fired..(especially if a nurse claims “SAFE HARBOR”)..for other management stated ‘reasons’ such as ‘non-compliant with company philosophies’ (??). And once a nurse has been fired from a job it follows them—-forever. AT WILL states (which are most all states) allow for previous managers to say–lie, embellish–anything they want to without consideration or penalty of perjury–and this causes enormous stress on nurses seeking another position, as ALL prospective job recruiters/managers speak with the previous manager. This is incredible stress, stress that can be prevented, yet isn’t. Patient care is stressful; add the pressure and disinterest of the hospital’s management….you get burned out nurses, and worse: poor patient care. Mandated nurse-patient ratios will alleviate a great deal of this work-stress. BTW: There is NO shortage of available nurses…..just companies (hospitals) that refuse to staff adequately, safely in order to elevate their profit margins. Stress management and self-care for nurses—-starts with changes in management, ie., STAFFING: NURSE to PATIENT RATIO LIMITATIONS. Until this is addressed, no amount of ‘relaxation techniques’ will help.

    • Hi W. Wilson, thanks for sharing your thoughts on our blog post! The points you mentioned are general concerns within some sectors of the nursing industry, which is why it is so important for nurses to make time to care for themselves. Feel free to reach out to me at if you want to further our discussion.

    • I wouldn’t call your input BS. It is just another way of looking at the pressures of nursing. Other than this, everything that M. Wilson said is right on 100%. As being one who spoke up to protect patients, I can find no one to hire me for the past 2 years. It is a disgrace. Nurses in Management levels need to speak up and stop allowing those who are interested only in money call the shots.

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