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Nurses must look after themselves so they can look after others

 Teresa Budrey 7 Mar 2017 Eastern

At this time of year it should be no surprise to anyone that hospitals are busy, community health care is pushed to its limits and NHS services are frequently struggling to cope with demand.

As nurses and healthcare assistants, you are on the frontline of this battle with winter pressures, which the RCN has previously highlighted are now year-round problems. Nursing staff are often the difference between services continuing amid the most trying of circumstances or falling down.

For this reason, and many others, it is important that your look after yourself so you can look after others. A resilient nursing workforce is vital for health services, and your own well-being.

Maintaining resilience can be as simple as remembering to take breaks, eat well and stay hydrated at work. We know many staff overlook these things as they battle with heavy workloads and staff shortages. But failure to look after yourself can make workloads and staff shortages even worse if you end up having to take time off.

Knowing where to go for help dealing with stress is also important and employers should have measures in place to assist staff if they are finding their stress levels unbearable. Healthcare is a stressful environment in which to work. Having mechanisms in place to cope will help you develop resilience and protect your own mental health.

Maintaining a good work-life balance is another area which can be overlooked. You will have responsibilities outside of work which can be pushed to one side if you are spending the whole time worrying about your job. Having the time to devote to your life outside means you are better able to cope with pressures in the workplace.

You can find more information about how you can protect your resilience in the RCN’s Healthy Workplace, Healthy You publications. The Healthy Workplace Toolkit sets out a checklist so you can tick off where your employer is doing well in protecting staff well-being and where they need to improve.

If you have any concerns about issues in the workplace you can always contact RCN Direct for help and advice. Find out more about how the RCN is here to support you on our help pages.

Photo of Teresa Budrey,  Regional Director, Eastern Region

Teresa Budrey

Regional Director, Eastern region

Teresa joined the RCN in 2003 as an officer in the Eastern region, following 20 years working in NHS learning disabilities nursing services. Teresa went on to become a senior officer in the RCN’s South East office before returning to the Eastern office in 2016 as operational manager.  She was appointed as Eastern Regional Director in February 2017.