Clinically reviewed by Dr. Chris Mosunic, PhD, RD, CDCES, MBA

6 phrases to ground yourself after a hard day as a nurse

These compassionate phrases check off your self-care for the day

By Vivian Nunez

Your job as a nurse is to focus all your attention on caring for others. It makes sense then that you can’t just flip a switch to shift your attention from others to yourself. No one is expecting you to, least of all us! 

Instead, we want to help you build a better on-ramp so that self-care doesn’t feel like a chore but like a way to offset the stressful aspects of your job. Burnout is known as chronic exhaustion that results from high levels of typically work-related stress, aka the feeling that may set in after one too many night shifts or day shifts that ask you to pour from an empty cup. 

The statistics show that nurses are struggling with their workload and mental health  — 50% of nurses are struggling with burnout,  according to Wolters Kluwel. There are definitely big, drastic ways to refill your cup or to focus on nurse burnout prevention. But instead, we’d like to turn your attention to small, attainable, and easy ways to start supporting yourself right now. 

We want to start with compassionate phrases you can borrow and use whenever you need. Copy and paste the six phrases into a note on your cell phone or give them a dedicated page in your notebook. 

The key isn’t to memorize them but to know where you can turn whenever you need a loving word or a reminder that you’re trying your best. 

“Thank you” 

Your commitment to your job is also a commitment to doing the job whether you’re thanked or not. It’s commendable, but you’re also human. Every so often, everyone needs a “thank you.” While you can’t control whether others give you flowers, you can practice looking in the mirror and thanking yourself for all you’ve done that hour, that day, or that week. 

“You are doing your best, which is all you can do.”

Nurses often go above and beyond and redefine what “best” looks like daily. Even on the days when what you offer doesn’t feel like it’s moved the needle in the right direction, it’s important to remind yourself that you’re giving all you possibly have. 

“My body and mind deserve to be nourished.” 

You can take care of others because you have the energy, mental clarity, and emotional bandwidth to do so. But you aren’t a bottomless well; your body and mind deserve care, too, and focusing on nurse burnout prevention can help. 

“Today was hard, and that’s why I feel [insert emotion or symptom here].” 

Honoring the challenging parts of your job for what they are — often hard, physically draining, emotionally taxing — is a good thing. It can help lessen your compassion fatigue, a term that describes a host of symptoms that surface when you’re too tired from caring for others. It can also refocus attention back to your reality so that you can figure out how to support yourself through those feelings best. 

“My job is fulfilling, even on the hardest days.” 

You became (and remain) a nurse for a reason. It can feel encouraging and reassuring to remind yourself occasionally that while some days are hard, you find meaning in your day-to-day work. 

I deserve a sleep routine, no matter when I sleep.” 

Being a nurse means your schedule can require you to be awake way past your ideal bedtime. A small reminder that you deserve a sleep routine, no matter what time sleep is, can help you build a bridge full of right-before-bed activities. These may not change your sleep routine overnight, but over time they may change how quickly you drift off and how deeply you sleep. 

As a nurse, you’re committing to care for others for the long haul. You deserve that very same commitment. Look for small, sustainable phrases or habits that can help you feel supported no matter what you’re navigating. It’s those easy acts of self-kindness that can help make nurse burnout prevention a reality for you.

Calm Health is a mental health wellness product. Calm Health is not intended to diagnose or treat depression, anxiety, or any other disease or condition. Calm Health is not a substitute for care by a physician or other health care provider. Any questions that you may have regarding the diagnosis, care, or treatment of a medical condition should be directed to your physician or health care provider.

Ready to get started?

We’ve made it easy to take the first step. Just download the Calm Health app, create your account, and answer a few simple questions to help us understand how you’re feeling. You’ll get instant recommendations for the Calm Health programs that will be the most helpful for you.

Our programs are created by licensed psychologists, and you can explore them at your own pace, in any order you like.

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