1. Nicoll, Leslie H. PhD, MBA, RN, Editor-in-Chief

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With this issue, we welcome spring to New England and, frankly, it cannot come soon enough for me! This has been a difficult winter, with much uncertainty, several tragedies, and seemingly unending cold weather. Couple that with the normal stresses of life and work, and it adds up to a recipe for the doldrums or, dare I say, depression?


Those of us in the helping professions must regularly remind ourselves that we need to take care of ourselves. When you work at a job where you give of yourself constantly, it is easy to forget to take a few moments for personal health and well-being. The difficult times in which we live make this more important-it is not a luxury, it is a necessity to maintain balance in an increasingly out-of-sync world.


For many of us, we need to begin by giving ourselves permission to take some time off. Whether it is an hour or a day, it is okay to be a little bit selfish and indulge in a healing ritual.


Once you have given yourself permission, then follow through on your promise to yourself. What works for me may not work for you, but here are a few suggestions I have picked up over the years:


* Read a book, trashy or otherwise.


* Write a in a journal, start the great American novel, or write a letter to the editor. Which editor? That's up to you.


* Exercise-whether a short walk or a hike-just do something to get your blood flowing.


* Soak in a bath or take a shower that lasts long enough for the hot water to run out. My children do this on a daily basis, which tells you something about their priorities!


* Work a crossword puzzle or better yet, write one!


* Take it easy and do nothing at all for the entire day. Yes, it is okay to "veg out" once in a while!



As nurses, we know we are in a helping profession. But what about the people for whom we are caring? Our patients in hospice have devoted and loving caregivers-often family members close friends. Because they do the hard work of caring for their loved ones, they also must be reminded of the importance of taking time off. Like us, they are living through a difficult and stressful time. They need to be reminded to find their personal balance.


I know that many caregivers are reluctant to do this, and it may be difficult for them to step away from their roles, even momentarily. But we need to remember the importance of self-health. It is impossible to care for others if you don't care for yourself-and that rule does not apply only to nurses! When it is difficult for a caregiver to take a moment for himself or herself, then that is when we must step in help. Give them permission, just as you gave yourself permission. Even if the respite is brief-something as simple as stepping outside to feel the warmth of the sun-we need to be mindful that every little bit does make a difference.


The importance of taking care of yourself cannot be underestimated. It reminds me of a quote from George Bernard Shaw, which I offer as a closing "Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world."