Self Full

Self full is a term that I learned from my life coach, Karlee Fain.

Self Full means that you fill your cup up first and give the over flow to your clients.  You take care of yourself first.  In filling your own needs first you have more things to give to other people.  You can give your best self to your clients.

I recently read this article about nurse burnout and it stated that nurses are selfless people.  Nurses put their patients first , are overworked, and have too many patients which is just some of the reasons that lead to nurse burnout.

I used to think that putting my patients first was the way to go.  Many nurses would agree to that and said that in the comments of this article.

In my opinion, I have become a better nurse since I started to put myself first and become self full.  I get more sleep, I have more energy, I have a better attitude, and I’m not burned out anymore.

When I got my first hospital job, I didn’t take a lunch break for about 6 months.  I had been working this job for over a year and I had become the charge nurse.  I still had to take a full patient load and do my charge nurse duties.  To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement.  A full patient load was 6 patients and sometimes 7.  I would survive off of some graham crackers and some juice all day.  I didn’t even have the energy to drive an hour home and would have to get a hotel room if I worked more than one day at a time.  I thought I was putting my patients first and being a good nurse.  I was being selfless.  I was fast approaching burn out.  The only time that I took off was when I was sick, which was becoming more and more frequent.  Sometimes I would even go to work sick.  One time the room started to spin and I felt like I was going to pass out but I stayed at work.  I didn’t want the other nurses to suffer because I couldn’t find another nurse to take my place.  I hadn’t taken a vacation in over 6 years at that point.

One time a nurse had to leave early because of a family emergency.  I tried to call another nurse in but no one wanted to come in.  I had to divide the nurse’s assignment and give them to the other nurses.  Since I was charge nurse, I couldn’t take anymore patients because I had the extra charge nurse duties.  One of the nurses was a new grad and had just gotten off of orientation that week.  She refused to take more than the 6 patients that she already had.  She stated that she didn’t feel comfortable taking 7 patients and that she would be putting her license in danger if she took 7 patients.  At the time I was very frustrated with her but looking back now I respect her decision.  As a new grad, I would be very uncomfortable taking 7 patients.  She was setting her boundaries and standing up for herself.  She knew her limits.  I ended up having to take 7 patients and some of the other nurses had to have 8 patients.  Luckily I found a nurse to come in about an hour later.

To be self full, I take care of myself.  I meditate, eat a healthy diet, exercise, get in nature, sit by the beach, sit by a lake, journal, drink water, and relax.  Doing these things keeps my cup full and overflowing so I can give my best self to the world and my patients.  I know that my days off are important so that I can take care of myself.  Even at work, I take my breaks and my lunch break now.  Sometimes that doesn’t always happen but I at least step into the break room and try to eat my lunch.  I want to be the best nurse that I can be and that means taking care of myself before I end up passing out because I haven’t eaten any thing since 5 am.  Some days I just relax at home because that’s what I feel like doing that day.

Most nurses work 5 or 6 days a week.  That is when being self full gets even more important.  On the 1 or 2 days off, the nurse should do something that uplifts the nurse’s spirit.  It could be something as simple as watching your favorite TV show or just sitting in the sun.

Being self full also means setting boundaries for yourself.  I don’t like to work over time unless I want to.  Most nurses tell me that they just assume that travel nurses will work over time.  I tell them that I also want to be able to explore the places that I go to, so I try not to work over time.  Some nurses look at me like I’m speaking a foreign language when I say that.  The hospital brings in the travel nurse because they don’t have enough nurses to work on the floor.  For myself, I know that working too much will lead to me feeling burned out.  Exploring different places and doing different things has made me a more balanced person.  The people that I talk to love to hear the stories of the places that I’ve been as a travel nurse.  They love to hear of the things that I did at those places.  The nurses are also noticing that I’m a much happier person even under stress.  I don’t attribute that to luck.  I attribute that to me being self full and taking care of myself.

Being self full is one way that I’ve learned to combat feeling burned out.

Ask yourself what can you do today that will help you to feel self full?


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