As 2017 winds down, it becomes a time of reflection and for setting New Year’s resolutions. Some of us will conquer our demons and continue on with our resolutions, but unfortunately, most of us will not. According to a 2106 article in the Huffington Post, only about 8% of people will stick to their resolutions. The reasons for failure varied: from setting too many of them, to being derailed by miniscule failures. At Younique Scrubs in St. Louis, we understand first hand that while nurses spend their days (or nights) caring for others, sometimes we’re not as good about caring for ourselves. We will preach to our patients until the cows come home that they need to improve their self-care. We encourage them to make time for themselves to decrease stress, and to treat healthy habits as a priority, and not an afterthought.

But do we listen to our own sound advice?

Hopefully some of you answered yes to that. However, most likely if we’re being honest with ourselves, you probably admitted there’s quite a bit of room for improvement. As nurses and medical professionals, I think we should band together and concur that we need to do better by ourselves and make a resolution of self-care.

You’re probably thinking, “I say this every year and don’t do it. Why would it be different this year?” I’m so happy you asked! According to the APA (American Psychological Association), you greatly increase your odds of sticking to your resolutions if:

A.) You don’t make too many

B.) If you start small

I want to give you 6 ways to easily integrate self-care habits into your routine. Because:

A.) You work super hard taking care of others and you deserve it

B.) I know with a little guidance you can stick to this self-care thing

1.) Schedule your self-care time

I mean this literally. Get out that new planner, pull up your Google calendar, whatever it is that you use to track what you’re doing when. Too many of us treat self-care as a luxury or after thought. It is NOT a luxury. Self-care is vital to your emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. So schedule it as such. You would block off an hour a work meeting, or PTA meeting---block an hour (or 3) for yourself every week.

2.) Take Epsom salt baths

epsom salt bath

We all know the benefits of taking Epsom salt baths, and it’s a quick and easy way to integrate a little bit of self-care into your week. Plus, how awesome will it feel to soak in a bath at the end of a 12 hour shift! To take it up a notch, put a few drops of eucalyptus oil in there for its anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties...soak and let all those sore muscles, strains, and tired feet heal.

3.) Get a massage

This is one that tons of people love, but consider a luxury. Why?! Massages are wonderful for you. They are relaxing, they help decrease stress, and can be emotionally and mentally rejuvenating! An article by the Mayo Clinic, discusses the vast benefits of getting massages; both physically and mentally. Plus, you will absolutely have to put this on your calendar and keep the appointment; after all, we wouldn’t want to be rude and inconsiderate of the massage therapist’s time, right?

4.) Date yourself!

Okay, so this one may sound a little quirky, but hear me out. While self-care in the form of Epsom baths and massages sound quite glorious in themselves, merely spending time hanging out with yourself is proven to help reboot your systems. Take yourself to dinner, or a movie, or find a little coffee shop with a cozy chair and a book.

5.) Get away

Nurses work long hours, but we also get more actual days off than a lot of professions do. So why not take advantage of that? If you can work your schedule to have three days off in a row that’s awesome. If not, don’t be afraid to use some of your PTO, and plan a 3 day adventure somewhere. It can be with a spouse, a friend, or with your amazing self. A 3 day trip is just enough to give you a huge emotional health boost. Let’s face it, even though we love what we do, taking care of patients is draining and we need that boost!

6.) Treat yourself

Part of self-care is ensuring you feel good, AND feel good about yourself. Showing up to work in old frumpy scrubs not only makes us look less than professional, it also subconsciously makes us feel not as good about ourselves either. Consider getting a couple pairs of well-made, custom fit scrubs. It’s better to have a few high-quality outfits in your rotation, than 2 weeks worth of low-quality scrubs that don’t look professional and aren’t even comfortable enough to get through your shifts!

If your reflection for the end of the year has lead you to determine self-care needs to be a New Year’s resolution for you, I hope this post gave you some easy ways to implement self-care that won’t be a huge change, and will make it easier to stick to. Remember that not making huge changes, not getting upset when we don’t do as well as we should with sticking to our resolution, and actually scheduling out time on your calendar, will increase your odds drastically at being successful. Remembering these things will help you avoid being part of the 92% of people who don’t stick to their New Year’s resolution. Now go decide what you want to do for self-care, and get it marked on your calendar!