I started my journey with nursing in 2012. I became a nurse because my best friend had a daughter who was born with a disability. I originally went to school for business as I’ve never truly loved medicine, and will always be a business woman at heart. Seems strange to go into nursing then, right? Ultimately, it came down to the fact that I have always wanted to simply help people feel better. I paint my patient’s nails and bring my families coffee in the morning, anything to bring them joy. Fast forward six years and I’m still wanting to help people feel better, but in a different way.

I realized while I was working at the hospital that I brought a different energy. My co-workers at times looked at me like I was from another planet, and I was ok with that! They saw happiness, joy, contentment and freedom. The truth was though, I wasn’t always this way. I was like many people who work in high-stress professions – tired, worn out, short-tempered and carrying around a lot of unhealthy habits

I complied a list of non-negotiable self-care practices that have helped me along my nursing journey, and I know will help you too! We must fill ourselves up from the inside out. It can be so easy to turn to wine or dessert, even caffeine to help us survive, but the truth is there is so much more energy and fulfillment waiting for us when we focus on the internal first. How do you do that? Here are a couple ideas to get you started:

• Meditation: I try to do this daily, sometimes even multiple times per day. When I was newer to meditation, I used an app to get me started. I love using the Gaiam Yoga Studio App which features guided meditations. Give it a try, even if just for a couple minutes!

• Mindfulness: To me, this means being careful of what you allow into your mind. I know this may seem almost juvenile, but I don’t watch tv shows or read half of the books I used to because I don’t want to fill my mind with stressful or negative things. I see enough of that at work. I choose to read inspirational books, short stories if I don’t have a lot of time and a lot of self-help books that inspire me to be better. I love podcasts for this too!

• Move your body and circulate energy: Sometimes we just feel funky, right? I always try to move my body every day. Even if it’s just walking my dog, going on a quick bike ride, or rolling out my yoga mat for 10 minutes after a long shift. It doesn’t have to be two hours in the gym! Moving our bodies helps us get unstuck by circulating energy throughout our bodies, and those positive endorphins you get via exercise don’t hurt either!

• Rest: How many times have you said yes when you didn’t want to? Yes, to working an extra shift, helping your neighbor or friend, cooking a meal, planning a party….you name it! Know you don’t have to! No one benefits by you being worn out and exhausted. Protect your energy and relax when you need to.

• Talk to other nurses or people who understand and will listen: What we don’t express, we suppress, and we all know what happens when we bury things. It never ends well. I have found great support from my amazing partner, but most importantly all of the strong, amazing nurses I know.