Self-Care for Caregivers

Healthcare workers usually have incredibly stressful lives, and caring for ourselves often takes the back burner. I know because I am a nurse and have been in healthcare for more than 35 years. Nurses and physicians are on our feet a lot. Best HealthWe work strange hours, especially emergency room, on-call and night shift nurses and physicians. Irregular sleep patterns make it more challenging for some of us to exercise and make the best food choices.

A surgeon associate of mine said it best: “Just because I am a surgeon does not mean I am immune to health problems.” As he neared the age of 50, this avid runner noticed his running times were off and his legs felt heavy. He wisely chose to be tested for venous reflux disease, the condition wherein delicate one-way valves in the legs fail, allowing blood to flow backward and pool in the veins.

A simple ultrasound scan showed significant reflux. A series of in-office procedures soon had him enjoying his races again and gave him new insights into how easily healthcare professionals can ignore or diminish the importance of our own symptoms.

As a takeaway, whether you’re a healthcare professional or a busy parent, please make time to notice how you’re feeling. Know the warning signs of stroke, heart attack and cancer, and pay attention to them for yourself as well as your loved ones and patients. You can’t be a great caregiver if you don’t first take care of yourself.

By: David Martin, RN, CRNFA

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