Self-Care for Caring Practice
In general, literature about self-care refers to the self-care activities that nurses and other healthcare professionals promote among patients. Orem’s (2001) self-care deficit theory emphasized the importance of clients being able to direct their own care. Commonly, clients are encouraged to stand back and seriously take stock of their health and the health-promoting activities in which they engage, with the hope that such awareness will result in positive behavior change. In contrast, nurses and nursing students are rarely advised to engage in a parallel assessment.
The aim of self-care is to make explicit a continuum of care for self that restores and enhances health, congruent with the individual’s values and beliefs (Dean, 1986; Wister, 1997). Self-care is also an important part of primary healthcare initiatives that people engage in to proactively prevent illness and achieve personal well-being (World Health Organization, 1997). In light of the aging nursing work force, the current nursing shortage, and an increase in injuries sustained while delivering nursing care, an examination of current self-care practices in all areas of nursing is warranted. …
… There are strong linkages between patient care, holism, and self-care. Holism must encompass the patient in relation to the nurse and must include holistic practices. Not only do nurses have therapeutic relationships with patients, they need to strengthen the relation with self to experience the lived world of self-care. Pragmatically, nursing students can further patient care by engagement in self-care activities such as exercise, nutrition, complementary therapies, and relaxation. Holistic perspectives, which include the nurse and patient as integral to caring, are essential and necessary to address the current nursing shortage.
Self-care measures can stem burnout and attrition in nursing education programs. As expected by patients, educators, nursing students, and nurses need to stand back and take stock of their own health. It is important to remember that the body is a living organism that requires care and attention.