News, Nursing

Learning about Self-Care in the Psychiatric Nursing Program

Program: Psychiatric Nursing

Hello everyone! Semester 3 of the Psychiatric Nursing Program is already wrapped up and we are all enjoying a much needed, and well-deserved 2 week break.

Back in semester 1, we discussed a topic called burnout, and the need for both self-care and self-awareness to be able to self-identify the signs and symptoms of burnout and take steps to mitigate such burnout. This is true to of nursing students though, and even our clinical instructor had pointed out to us witnessing herself treating students in psychiatric emergency.

Identifying the need for a break

How does it happen? Well, for most of us it’s quite simple when you look in from the outside. We are fulltime students, some of us are parents, we balance clinical practice, with the need to work in order to pay bills (like a mortgage), and put food on the table.

Let’s face it, student loans doesn’t cover nearly enough for us to survive while we are in school. So we work, and study, and do our clinical, then work some more. By the end, we’re putting in 65 to 70 hours a week to keep everything together. Oh, and did I mention having a child? When people see the angry, tired nurse at the hospital, they experience that in a workweek, but have yet to identify the need for a break and are currently in the process of going from compassion fatigue, to full-blown burnout.

I think one thing I have noticed as psychiatric nursing students from Stenberg, is most of us came back here for second, or third careers. So the situation above I have noticed is common among many classmates. Yet in our busy lives without school, most of us have a hard time conducting self-care activities.

However, it doesn’t have to be difficult, for my family, we go for a walk on a daily basis, I get some time to myself every couple weeks to enjoy my hobbies, like recreational shooting. We also forced ourselves to take a much needed vacation.

Managing our expectations

As nursing students, we must be able to manage and temper our own expectations on what we can handle. As cash-strapped and hungry students, how do we take a vacation? Simple, we had saved for it specifically, and secondly, we booked it, which made us take it. The rewarding feeling of having set the money aside on top of everything made it feel that much better. However, I don’t know if I’d recommend flying 8 hours with a toddler. Given that and the fact that I was in a training accident with the army two days prior to the trip which put it all in doubt made the experience and memories that much greater.

Looking back now, I am glad that we took that trip. We made family memories, and relaxed on sunny, white sand beaches for almost a week. With the start of semester 4 looming just around the corner, I feel refreshed and ready to go for another 3 rounds! Err, I mean 3 semesters! I feel relaxed and excited, with a willingness to tackle any challenges heading our way. It will be interesting to see what other classmates spent the last couple weeks doing.

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