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Remember to Practice Self-Care This Holiday Season

The holiday season is often a time of joy, love, and happiness. It can also be a time of personal and professional stress, anxiety, and challenges — all of which are magnified by a pandemic. That's why, especially right now, we all should take a moment to care for ourselves and build our resilience.

And whether we know it or not, we all have "self-care superpowers" to build a foundation of well-being in professional and personal life. That's the focus of Self-Care for New and Student Nurses, a book published earlier this year by Dorrie Fontaine, dean emerita of UVA's School of Nursing, associate nursing professor Natalie May, and former faculty member Tim Cunningham (now vice president of practice and innovation at Emory Healthcare). Check out this recent UVA Today story to learn more about this timely and informative book.

Tim was among those who addressed the recent annual Nursing Summit hosted by our Professional Nursing Staff Organization. Here are a few "self-care superpowers" that I learned about that I'll be adopting this holiday season and beyond. 

  • Be present. A wandering mind is often an unhappy mind. Practice paying attention as you move through the mundane tasks in your day, such as waiting for the elevator or walking the aisles of a grocery store. You might notice a difference in how you feel.
  • Reframe. Ask yourself in a given situation, "What is another way to look at this?" A different perspective may serve you better. For example, think of exercise as a celebration of your body's strength — and not punishment for eating too much during the holidays. 
  • Wonder. Engage in the practice of assuming positive intent with patients and co-workers. For example, when faced with a challenging situation, begin by asking, "I wonder why...?" Approaching difficulties with curiosity can help you not rush to judgment.
  • Savor. Be intentional about what you want to grow— peace, comfort, strength, gratitude, love, etc. For example, while on vacation, limit phone and screen time to truly be present with family and friends and savor all the sights and sounds around you.

As always, UVA Health offers a robust set of programs and resources to help, too. Check out the UVAHR Emotional Well-Being and UVA Health Wisdom & Wellbeing Program pages for more. Finally, check out this informative piece from Mental Health America on "Preparing For The Holidays During COVID-19."

Take care and be well!