Self-care: You are only one person

2020 has taken the stress level of people across our country to a whole new level.  The pandemic has meant isolation from family and friends and the loss of loved ones.  It has cost people their jobs and livelihood.  We have had to navigate unforeseen circumstances and stare fear of the unknown directly in the face.  All of these factors affect our mental health.  While much of the country was forced into quarantine, many essential workers continued to risk their own health and that of their families by staying on the frontlines.  Grocery store employees, delivery companies, and of course, healthcare providers (just to name a few) continued to work hard for their communities.  These frontline workers faced a different set of stressors such as risk of exposure, fear of bringing “the virus” home to their family, and fatigue. 

As a nurse educator, our challenges have changed as well.  Finding ways to safely social distance in our classrooms and labs has become a focal point.  How will we deliver didactic content and ensure our learners have grasped the key components of hands on skills and techniques? Certainly, these adaptions have a cost.  Often the cost is time.  Time to figure it all out.  Countless behind the scenes hours. Working on transforming the lab which used to accommodate eight students into a space that is social distanced may appear to take place during regular business hours but how much planning went into that? There is only so much time in one day.  One person can only achieve so much in that time.  We have the tendency to push ourselves far beyond normal expectations.  A huge disservice we do to ourselves is putting so much pressure on our schedule or workload that eventually we get to our breaking point.  Self-care is important for all people.  Our mental health is just as important as our physical and spiritual health.  This may be something as basic as taking a yoga class to clear your mind or it may be more complex and require physician involvement.  There is no intervention too small or to grand.  Additionally, in the role we play as educators, we must consider the mental well-being of our learners.  It is important to keep our own self-care in check so we can best assist our learners who may need support or guidance during these challenging times. 

One self-care idea I have employed is to take time to do a complete disconnect.  I try to build a time into my weekly schedule where I just plan to do one thing I enjoy (reading, playing a game, or going for a walk). I try to leave my devices behind and just take some time to decompress and do something that I find completely relaxing.  Sometimes this might only last about 10 minutes, but I find that when that 10 minutes is up, I have a clearer mind and the ability to refocus and get back to reaching goals. What self-care ideas do you apply to your life?

September is National Suicide Prevention Month.  We all can help. If you or someone you know needs help, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255 for free and confidential support.

Are you interested in impacting the lives of future nurses by becoming a nurse educator? Learn more about earning your online Master of Science in Nursing - Nurse Educator degree from Walsh University.

About the Author


My name is Colleen Wiley and I am a nurse educator. Growing up I always wanted to be a teacher, but I also had an interest in learning about science. I have always loved helping people which is why I chose to pursue a career in nursing. I spent my time in undergraduate nursing school working as a nurse intern on a medical surgical unit. After graduation in 2005, I worked at the bedside caring for post-operative patients and I loved it! Eventually, I started offering to train new employees and I would also take on nursing students for their clinical preceptorship. It was then that I truly realized my real passion was seeded in becoming a nurse educator! I started working as an adjunct clinical instructor in 2010 and immediately knew this was the path for me. A fire was lit inside of me! That burning feeling of helping others was reignited as I shifted my focus from helping sick and/or recovering patients in the acute setting to helping students learn how to become a nurse. I pursued a graduate degree in nursing education which I earned in December of 2014. I have been working as a nurse educator ever since I took that first leap back in 2010.

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