Building Your Own Self-Care Habit

When it comes to self-care habits, it can be hard to build one that sticks. However, there are a few tricks you can do to create a long-lasting habit for your well-being.
nurse lying on floor listening to a guided meditation

When it comes to self-care habits, it’s important to focus on the act of building realistic habits. Right now, finding a few minutes each day to focus on your well-being might feel impossible, so it’s critical to understand the importance of taking time to reflect on building resilience and staying motivated, especially in nursing.

From finding meaning in your day-to-day duties to releasing work-related stress, reflecting on what happens each day can have an overall positive ripple effect on you and those around you.

But how do you build a long-lasting habit around well-being?

We’ve pulled together a few tips and tricks to help you make your self-care habit a success, so you can stay focused, passionate, and motivated.

1. Start Small – We aren’t asking you to figure out how to schedule a two-hour meditation practice into your daily life. Give yourself small, attainable, and most importantly, realistic goals. Why not start with three minutes of quiet Self Reflection? Maybe set aside five minutes for a quick journal entry.

Remember: a successful habit doesn’t have to be time-consuming to be meaningful or effective.

B.J. Fogg, a Stanford researcher, and author of Tiny Habits says that habits are like plants – you start with something tiny, like a seed, find a good spot to “plant” it in your daily routine, and nourish it until it grows and flourishes.

male nurse taking time to connect with self

2. Find Your “Trigger” – Aligning your new habit with the best trigger or prompt for yourself can also help establish a successful habit. James Clear, author of Atomic Habits lists five key habit triggers:

  • Time
  • Location
  • Preceding Event
  • Emotional State
  • Other People

Time-based triggers are the most common – think of all the habits that are part of your daily life simply based on waking up. From brushing your teeth to making coffee, our morning routines are built on time triggers. So why not try building a habit around your end-of-shift routine? As you clock out and begin to decompress from your shift, take a few moments for a quick Shift Reflection while everything is still fresh in your mind.

Or a location-based trigger may be best for you: try a short mindfulness meditation in your parked car before heading in to start each shift.

3. Stack Your Habits – Another strategy suggested by Clear is what is called habit “stacking.” Which simply refers to building new habits on the foundation of other well-established habits. This concept works by taking advantage of the habits your brain is already trained to do, connecting your new behavior with an old behavior.

Some examples are as simple as meditating for one minute after you pour your morning coffee or changing into your workout clothes as soon as you take off your work shoes.

Take some time and think about the habits you’ve already built into your routine. For example, do you scroll on your phone for a bit before bed? That could be the ideal time to add in a guided meditation or even some journaling. You can even go back to step one and keep this habit simple and small. Maybe drink a large glass of water after you brush your teeth in the morning and before bed each night.

Small Steps, Big Results

When it comes to building a positive habit into your daily routine it may not be easy at first but finding ways to take care of yourself – in a career where you already care for so many others – is more than worth it.

Remember, the hardest part is taking the first step, so start small. Plant that “seed” of self-care, find a trigger that works for you, and build upon your habits as a way of fostering and supporting your mental health and overall well-being.

And if you’re already using NurseGrid to keep track of your busy schedule, our latest feature, Shift Reflection, is here to help encourage you to develop your self-care habits. Continuing our mission of supporting nurses everywhere, we’re committed to making sure you have the tools you need to maintain not only your well-being and mental health but your focus and passion as well.

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