Self-Care Strategies for the Caregiver

Hi, I’m Cat. I’m a Pediatric Nurse and have been for the last six years. You know me mostly for my workouts and mindset tips, but I’m here today to share a little bit about my nursing journey and inspire you to take of yourself.

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burnout

In 2011 I decided to go back to nursing school. After receiving my business degree and working an office job, I became tired of sitting at a desk and was looking for something more hands on. Around this time, my best friend’s daughter was born with a disability. It was then that I decided to go back to nursing school to help care for my friend’s daughter. We finished an accelerated program and before we knew it were RN’s. I had no idea what I was getting into!

Nursing school is unlike anything else and I now realize why, they’re preparing you for what you’re about to go through in the real world. Unfortunately, during nursing school there’s no class on self care, how to survive night shifts, or how to take emotionally care for yourself after caring for people in their most vulnerable state. I definitely don’t claim to have it all figured out, but I do know this: if you don’t spend time nurturing your soul, you are destined for burnout. Whether you’re a nurse, social worker, teacher or any profession where you put other people’s needs before your own, it’s time to embrace the slow down and do something for YOU!

Here are a couple things I’ve learned that have helped me on my own journey to self-care.

Present > Perfect

Many times I have been caught up in everything being perfect that I miss out on time for me, or the ones I love.

Let me give you an example: I know I have a stretch of three shifts in a row coming up so I spend all of my free time making sure my floors are sparkling clean, there is no dust to be found, my car is washed and I am fully stocked with groceries. Are all of these things necessary? Yes! Were they all necessary before I started working? No. I could have chosen to be present at home with my boyfriend, we could have walked the dog and let the dust settle and my car go another day unbathed. I could have filled my soul, which is what I needed before working, and worried about clean floors later. I have discovered that being perfect is overrated and being present for the important things in life, whatever that means to you, is where true joy is found.

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Schedule self-care or else you won’t have time

If you don’t make self-care a priority it won’t happen. I encourage you to actually schedule it on your calendar, add it to your to-do list, and find someone to hold you accountable if needed. It doesn’t have to be a whole day, it could be a twenty minute walk, an hour at the gym, a bath, an hour with your phone on airplane mode, or a five minute meditation. Whatever it is YOU need to fill your soul. It has to happen.

For me, changing my morning routine has been everything. First thing in the morning, I nurture my soul by spending time in meditation and journaling. It’s usually only fifteen minutes, but it sets the tone for my entire day and is something just for me.

Take away a chair

Anyone in a helping profession is a giver, bottom line. We’re those YES people. We agree to help, we’re reliable, and we pride ourselves on being able to juggle all the balls without dropping one. I read about the concept of taking away a chair and I loved it. The idea is that if there’s not a chair open, then no one will sit down.

Have you ever stopped to think about how many chairs you have sitting out? How many people you take care of, say yes to, or are responsible for? It may be time to take away a chair and make your circle smaller. I spent some time at the beginning of this year taking away some chairs – I had to resign from a group, resign from being president of said group, say no to multiple calls, group meetings, and other responsibilities. I couldn’t believe the peace I felt and guess what? Someone else took over, everything kept running without me, and it was all ok. I promise that if you take away some chairs you will feel liberated, at peace, and the world will keep turning.

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The bottom line is that if you don’t take care of yourself you can’t expect anyone else to. We set the standard for how we want to be treated so I would encourage you today, no matter you’re profession, to do something for YOU. You’ll be better you for everyone else in your life because of it!

Are you a nurse looking for more support on your nursing journey? Check out my website here.

Related Reads: Embracing the BEing, In Alignment: How to Make Your Intentions Match Your Attention, Do What You Love: A Reality Check, and 3 Ways You Can Be an Inspiration Today


CAT GOLDEN started Nine Lives Health and Mind to help others feel like the absolute best version of themselves. She has a background in pediatric nursing and now does her wellness business full time. She does this through working with individuals and groups conducting weight loss programs, help with athletic performance, increased energy and mindset training. She has been a fitness enthusiast for the last decade and believes that where focus goes energy flows. Focus on gratitude and moving your body and watch how your life can change! (You can also see posts from Cat under The Resource Girls)

Photos: www.aubreygracephoto.com / @aubreygracephoto

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