For nurses juggling long shifts and families, finding the time for self care can be a difficult task. Exercise, reading and sleeping are common ways to relax when stress gets overwhelming.
Photo: ajc.com
Photo: ajc.com

How nurses can learn to love their bodies

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It involves viewing yourself in a healthy way, and the way you see your body can be influenced by your emotional attitude and beliefs, according to Nikeisha Whatley-León, director of Behavioral Health Services at Northside Hospital. 

The department sees staff members as well as people from the community and has provided care for issues ranging from disordered eating to talking to nurses about compassion fatigue. Nurses are encouraged to recognize signs of behavioral health issues not only in patients, but also in their own lives. Through a self-care program at the hospital, nurses are urged to take care of themselves in order to be a good caretaker for patients. 

“Self-care and self-worth go along with body positivity,” Whatley-León said. “We know that nurses put patients before themselves a lot.”

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Body image issues can affect anyone, she said. “It does not discriminate.”

Thankfully, however, her department hasn’t seen a large number of nurses with body image issues. 

“We haven’t seen it as much, knock on wood,” she said. This may be because nursing is a very diversified setting, with people of all shapes and sizes. Whatley-León also said that nurses are in a position to advocate for body positivity.

However, this doesn’t mean that nurses are exempt from body image issues.

“I definitely think that nurses are impacted by it,” she said.

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She suggested the following ways for nurses to love their own bodies while fostering an atmosphere of body positivity:

  • Practice good self-care by, for example, making sure that you take time to eat.
  • Realize that your worth and self-confidence shouldn’t be based on your looks.
  • Practice positive self-talk and thinking.
  • Wear clothes that you feel good in.
  • Exercise and find other healthy hobbies.
  • Celebrate your body with an activity like dancing if you feel comfortable doing that.

If you develop problems, seek out professional care.

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