Taking Care of Yourself: "Self-Care is Not Selfish"
Updated: Mar 8, 2018
You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.” –Anonymous
This quote has resonated with me throughout my nursing journey especially during my fourth semester. Similar to the announcement heard regarding putting the oxygen mask on yourself before placing it on anyone else in case of emergency, particularly before a plane prepares for lift- off, it is important that we as nursing students, nurses, and human beings take adequate care of our own mental, physical, and emotional health.
My fourth semester, Nursing 3, was the hardest semester during my nursing education. Not only was I trying to figure out the method of picking out the BEST answer, but I had multiple projects, longer clinical hours, and a larger quantity of material to grasp. Upperclassmen told me their Nursing 3 horror stories so I approached this course by dedicating time only to studying, New Jersey Nursing Students, Inc. (NJNS) convention planning, studying some more, and eating while studying. Although this sounded like a good plan initially, it was not. I didn’t go to the gym as frequently as I did in previous semesters, I spent less time with my family, and I wasn’t happy. After getting my third horrible test grade, I took a step back from school and realized I had to clear my mind. The only things on my mind at the time were not passing the course and the new pressure of becoming president of NJNS. My mind was bombarded with doubts. I realized that I needed to truly enrich my mental health and not think about everything that could go wrong.
At 2:47AM in the morning (yes, I still have this message saved to my Notes on my phone), I woke up and wrote down everything that was bothering me and all the fears I had. Some of them included being perceived as a failure and proving people who doubted me correct. Once I had this list written, I was able to approach each fear more methodically. After praying about solutions, I realized that as long as I am doing my best, everyone’s opinions are pretty much irrelevant and that there’s no need to prove anything to anyone. I am who I am and their doubts do not define my abilities. Once I was truly able to believe my new found conclusions, I began to take care of myself. I got a much needed massage, had more dinners with my family, scheduled time to exercise, and began to study again without all the added pressure.
Sometimes we are our own worst critics and need to get out of our heads. I ended the semester with much better grades and passed the class. For anyone approaching their midterms or feeling defeated on their nursing journey, know that your grades do not define you and that sometimes it is important to take a step back and figure out what’s truly impeding your success.
For anyone approaching their midterms or feeling defeated on their nursing journey, know that your grades do not define you and that sometimes it is important to take a step back and figure out what’s truly impeding your success.
Whether it’s writing a list to get fears out of your mind, getting that massage, allotting more time for the gym and/or an activity that de-stresses you, or surrounding yourself with people who put positivity and not doubt in your life, it’s important to figure out what’s going to add to your mental, physical, and emotional well-being. I’m not a pro at figuring out a balance 100% of the time, but I do my best so I can be the best nurse for my patients. We can’t pour from an empty cup and must take care of ourselves first. Best of luck on your nursing journey and keep swimming!
Originally published in New Jersey Nursing Students, Inc. Pulsebeat Publication.