Let’s Talk Self – Care

#HelloMyNameisBecci and I am a Teaching Fellow in Child Health Nursing at the University of Surrey.

I have been nursing for 17 years and my background is primarily A&E and surgical nursing. I have worked in a mixture of private, public and specialist children’s hospitals and I have also nursed in New Zealand.  Throughout my career I have been passionate about well-being and recognising the importance of self-care not only for myself but for those around me and in my care. So let’s talk about your self-care…

Self-care is a term that gets thrashed around a lot right, but for some it may mean having a nice hot bath or taking time out to watch a favourite film which it can be but it is so much more than that and let me tell you why. Self-care means giving yourself permission to pause, to take time out from the world around you (to totally switch off). Why would you not give yourself the same care and attention that you give to others, if you did you would watch yourself truly blossom.

I get that at times we all feel overwhelmed, stressed and exhausted (trust me I have been there) and for you I know and remember how tough it is doing your nursing training – let alone dealing with a global pandemic. This year has taken its toll on everyone – we are human, we are not robots and the more self-care, self-love and self-compassion you give yourself the better you will feel.

I recognise how busy and hectic life is, particularly juggling placement, academic work – most of you I am sure have another job, family etc. so sometimes finding the time to pause can be tough. BUT you need to make time, you will all know by now how tough nursing can be – the physical and emotional toll it can take on us can be exhausting and with everything in life it is about balance.

Throughout my career I have suffered from burnout and exhaustion as I am someone who will always put others before myself – a wonderful trait in some respects but it has not been easy. I have learned to make myself a priority, I deserve and need time for me every day and so do you. Some of you may be reading this and wondering how do you have the time? Well I work for the University but I also run my own Holistic Therapy business, I am married and have two young children so if I can make time, then anyone can – but it is down to discipline and making it part of your daily routine.

 So here are some little tips of how you can incorporate self-care into your daily life:

  • Exercise – whether it’s a walk, HiiT workout, boxing, run of yoga it will get those endorphins going and give you time to focus just on you and you will feel great!
  • Spend time in nature – this time of year is just beautiful, the falling leaves signifying letting go, the colours and beauty helps restore our soul
  • Dive into a good book, escape the world for a while and take yourself on an adventure
  • Bake – who doesn’t love getting creative in the kitchen baking cakes for those that you love or any tasty treat or your signature pasta dish, yummy!
  • Get creative through art and crafts, whether it’s knitting, painting, colouring and unleashing the spark to express yourself
  • Soak in a bubbly bubble bath, ease the tension of your muscles and make it a true pampering experience
  • Massage your feet – the map of your body and ease the tightness and give yourself permission to let go. Try it on your partner or children, you’ll love it.
  • Journal – scribble down your thoughts and feelings, by getting them out of your head, not only does it help you to process them it also enables you to let go
  • Catch up with your tribe – your besties, the people who give you spark and support you to be the best version of yourself
  • Gratitude – some days are tough and when I have a particularly tough day before I go to sleep I reflect on what has been good about that day and verbalise three positive mantras to myself. This helps me to focus on the good, let go of what I cannot control and help me ease into a blissful sleep
  • Sleep is critical for our mental and physical wellbeing, getting into a healthy bedtime routine is vital to ensure you get enough quality sleep enabling your body to rest, recover and feel revitalised
  • Digital detox – in our modern world being able to have access to the internet and being contacted 24/7 can be exhausting. So build in downtime, you can manage this on your phone or be bold and have a weekend free of social media – it’s not as scary as you think and will leave you feeling fabulous!

These are just a few ideas, so what will you try? I go for a walk every day – whatever the weather it truly uplifts me, I regularly have a digital detox, I journal and I massage my feet and I also love to bake. It doesn’t have to be anything big and if you struggle to make time for you then start with just 10 minutes a day and build from there. Now it might sound crazy but I plan my self-care – I imagine you plan your meals and shopping, when you see your friends so why not your self-care, I dare you to try it!

Now the Christmas holidays are fast approaching and all of you need to ensure you take time to have a proper break and rest. I appreciate some of you will have work to do, but plan your time accordingly to ensure you get a solid consecutive break – you need to switch off, you need to unwind and you need to relax. We all need rest and this Christmas more than ever, we need to just be and focus on our wellbeing and our family.

I am sending big virtual hugs to all of you, be proud of what you have achieved this year, have faith in your ability and the journey ahead but remember that self-care is not a luxury it is a priority and a necessity for your life and wellbeing.


Disclaimer: This blog contains personal opinions of students and teaching fellows only and does not necessarily represent the views of the Children’s Nursing team, School of Health Sciences or the University of Surrey.

If you’re interested in writing a blog post for us – whether it’s a one-off about something in Nursing you’re passionate on, or as a regular contributor, please email Chloe Thomas (ct00633@surrey.ac.uk) or Aliya Stratford (as03037@surrey.ac.uk) – we’d love to hear from you!