Written by Samantha Wall, LCSW
Edited by Joe DeNoon
You have seen this title before, but we will talk about it again because of the sheer importance of this topic. Mental health check-ins are essential when working in a stressful job. They can help us from going over the edge where we will need a higher level of intervention, and they can help us maintain from week to week or even day to day.
The questions stay the same:
- Did you get enough sleep?
- Have you eaten today?
- How much water have you had today?
- Do you have an exercise routine? If not, what kind of movement do you like?
- Have you talked with or reached out to people you love this week?
We constantly check in on others’ needs every single day. Whether it is our patients, our friends, our family, we are there to support and meet others’ needs. We can turn that support we give to others back to ourselves. It is so important to make sure our needs are met. But are we doing it? If the answer is yes, amazing!
If the answer is no, I want you to ask yourself follow up questions. These questions include: What is my barrier? Do I feel it is important to check in with my own needs? What feels important about mental health check-ins? Do I have the capacity to check in with my mental health needs or do I need to get some outside help from a supportive person in my life or a professional? These questions can be very hard to answer honestly. When we help other people, it can be so hard to experience and feel we have our own value! We tend to value others’ needs over our own, not just because we have to do that for our job, but because that is who we are as caring individuals. Your needs have value, so why doesn’t it feel that way?
In the nursing world there is so much that you experience that sends the message that the system doesn’t actually value YOU, you are just another part of the system. It is important that you follow what THEY need you to do, so THEY don’t feel the stress. We need to show ourselves that we matter and our own well-being is very important, not only for the work we do, but to our lives, work and personal life. When we start valuing ourselves, not only can it help us set boundaries in our work and personal lives, it shows others how to treat us.
Mental health check-ins are when we serve ourselves. Asking what our needs are can be the difference between managing and feeling like you are drowning. You will always have value, no matter who you can or cannot help. It is important we start showing ourselves we are valued. This can be in simple ways where we go to bed early, eat a meal or snack we usually skip, remind ourselves to drink water, take a walk on our break so we actually remove ourselves from the stressful environment, or talk to a loved one even if we are in a bad mood. When we create these patterns, it starts to shift our mindset. You are worth the time and effort it can take to create new habits, especially when it can help you get rid of unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Working as a nurse can throw us into habits where we feel that we are not able to meet our own needs. The world chose nurses because they see the strength you have, so use your strength to check-in with your needs and set boundaries for not only you, but all nurses. Ask yourself: Did you get enough sleep? Have you eaten today? How much water have you had today? Do you have an exercise routine? If not, what kind of movement do you like? Have you talked with or reached out to people you love this week? Do you feel balanced? What do you need to feel valued today? Not only will these questions help us do our jobs better, but encourage us to live a life where we are not only surviving, but thriving.