Self-Care Training | 3 - 5 min

Understanding barriers to self-care

An update from COPE Scotland.

First, thank you to everyone who gave their time to join in the discussions around what gets in the road of self-care. The work COPE Scotland is doing with QNIS thanks to the COVID-19 Healthcare Support Appeal (CHSA) and our own project, ‘’More choices for More people’’ wants to understand the barriers to wellbeing, and how these can be overcome as well as sharing tools, ideas and resources which can help support wellbeing.  We are also delighted that a group of nurses have started their journey on Capacitar training, which will add another dimension to the wellbeing resources which can be shared.

We plan to continue offering updates on the work being done and how you can continue to be involved if you would find that of value. The ideas and themes emerging so far include:

  • Those who are in a professional caring role for others, sometimes need reminded about their own self-care.
  • Putting the needs of others first can make finding time for self-care a challenge.
  • Sometimes self-care opportunities are presented but not accessed as in the busyness of the day people don’t think it’s for them or see the value of what is being offered.
  • The pressure of workloads can often mean even the simplest of things like an undisturbed lunch break is a luxury
  • A culture sometimes seen, made worse since hybrid working, that working over contracted hours, being really busy all the time means you care more. This can make it harder to take time for self-care as it can feel you don’t care as much.
  • Boundaries around times emails and communications are sent and a feeling of constantly being stuck in a loop where it gets faster and faster and no matter how hard you try; it just feels you cannot get off and no matter how hard you work; it is never all done.
  • A need for leadership to demonstrate self-care in the workplace isn’t a luxury but a necessity for healthy teams and safe practice.
  • Support for those in the team who others offload to, so they in turn have someone they can turn to. There is somewhere to take some of the issues raised, where this is appropriate and feel safe and supported to do so.
  • Sometimes when we get home, we feel we have been talking all day, making decisions all day and find it hard to then begin talking and sharing with our own family as we just want to switch off and watch some telly which doesn’t require us to think too much, even asking what is for dinner can leave us feeling!!! ‘’Please don’t ask me to make another decision’’.
  • Regardless of levels of authority/seniority self-care and support needs to be built in for everyone.
  • The need to find space to pause.
  • The value of having a safe confidential space to learn self-care techniques and share experiences with peers
  • The need to share good news stories of work being done which is inspirational which can perhaps support changes in other areas new to a commitment to time and space for self-care.

What next

  1. There are a variety of tools and resources in the nurse’s wellbeing resource booklet  Nurses and Midwives Wellbeing Resource Booklet ( and wellbeing practices page  on the QNIS website.
    This is a link to a short 5minute podcast which may be helpful to get into the habit if hitting the pause button
  2. There was the suggestion that some kind of facilitated discussion/space where resources for self-care were shared, followed by the chance to talk to each other would be very valuable. It was suggested to have these over a lunch time once a month for an hour. If this is of interest and you would like to help shape what that may look like, please email

In addition to our professional lives, we also have personal lives. This wee booklet was designed for everyone offering some ideas for winter wellness. It may also be of interest

What is emerging so far includes the idea that we need to know it matters we make time for self- care, then we need to overcome the barriers that can prevent us making it part of our everyday. The tools for self-care also matter, however, unless we find a way to overcome the obstacles to practice, they will be a nice idea, but not something embedded in our every day.

Perhaps we need to stop talking self -care and start talking self-preservation. None of us are robots and can run on empty. What we do know, is there are many caring nurses out there and also examples of great practice, let’s find ways together this can become the norm for all.

Remember, you too matter.  If you would like to share your thoughts on anything shared so far then please do contact me, this is a piece of work we need to take forward together


Honorary Fellow QNIS


Hilda Campbell
QNIS Honorary Fellow and Chief Executive COPE Scotland

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