7 Tips for Staying Healthy as a Nurse
Posted on October 09 2017
Nurses work hard to provide the best level of care to their patients. However, your dedication to the job sometimes means that you may neglect to take care of your own health.
If you are looking for ways to improve your well-being, here are seven tips for staying healthy as a nurse:
After working 12 or 14-hour shifts, exercise is likely the last thing on your mind...and we don’t blame you! If you’re having a tough time sticking to a workout routine, you might consider changing the time of day when you work out. Doing a high intensity interval training workout before your shift could offer an excellent boost of energy to help you make it through the day. On the other hand, you could consider taking a yoga class at the end of your shift to help you to unwind.
Regardless of the type of exercise you choose to participate in, be sure to set fitness goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused and time bound (S.M.A.R.T.). This approach will help you to be more motivated to figure out a plan to achieve them. For example, if your goal is to run a 5k in under 26 minutes, you can then figure out how often you need to work out and rearrange your schedule to get it done.
You can also look into getting an accountability partner or workout buddy to help you to stay on track.
Get enough sleep
There is a very good chance that you aren’t getting adequate sleep after working long shifts in an intense and demanding environment. However, healthy sleep -- which can be defined as getting at least seven hours of restorative slumber -- is recommended for everyone but especially nurses. The American Nurses Association highlights the benefits of healthy sleep: “heightened alertness, boosted mood, increased energy, better concentration, more stamina, greater motivation, better judgment and improved learning.”
How can you improve your sleeping habits? There are a number of steps you can take to ensure that you get adequate sleep each day. The first is to train your body to adjust to a sleep schedule. Importantly, you’ll want to ensure that your bedroom is set up for the most restful sleep possible. You can look into investing in light blocking curtains, a white noise machine and a comfortable, yet supportive mattress.
Shower after your shift
You may prefer taking a shower prior to your shift because it wakes you up and often gives you that boost you need to make it through the day. However, taking a shower after your shift is a great way to relax after a stressful day. It is also extremely important as it helps to get rid of any microorganisms you may have come into contact during the day. Speaking of germs, hand washing and using sanitizers should be an important habit throughout your shift to reduce the likelihood of contracting an illness.
Don’t leave out nutrition
A recent study showed that nurses often miss meals to care for patients. Aside from finding the time, making healthy choices can also be a challenge. Packing your lunch before your shift might help you to avoid choosing fast food options at lunch time. Also, instead of eating one big meal each day, incorporate smaller meals to keep your metabolism running well. Another solution is to stock your locker or work station with healthy snacks that you can grab and go such as nuts or string cheese. Here are some other high-protein snack ideas that might be useful.
Take breaks throughout your shift
Studies show that when nurses work long hours without breaks, they are more susceptible to injury. Nurses also often suffer from ailments such as urinary tract infections (UTIs) because they skip bathroom breaks.
One of the best ways to ensure that you take 10 to 15-minute breaks throughout your long shifts, is to create a schedule with your coworkers. This ensures that there’s always coverage on the floor to allow each person to get some well-deserved time to regroup and recharge. You can choose to fit in a power nap, rehydrate, or enjoy a healthy snack during your break.
Create a work/life balance
It can be difficult to create work/life balance as a nurse but it isn’t impossible. There are countless benefits, including stress reduction and helping to ensure that you get to focus on important aspects of your life outside of the long shifts you work each week.
How can you do this? The first step is to set your priorities. Come up with daily, weekly and monthly “must do’s” that require you to make time for family, friends, hobbies, spirituality, personal growth and your own self-care. You don’t have to get super fancy or elaborate with your ideas. The important thing is to write them down - or better yet create calendar reminders so you don’t forget your commitments.
RELATED: Five Self-Care Tips for Nurses
Take care of your feet
We know you spend a lot of time on your feet which often leads to leg fatigue, leg swelling, muscle soreness and sometimes unsightly varicose veins. But there is a solution to help give your legs and feet the treatment they deserve. Compression socks can help you to take care of yourself while you work and even after. Crazy compression socks and sleeves have the perfect amount of pressure to promote circulation and aid in muscle recovery without being dull or boring.
Taking better care of yourself will help to improve your health, boost your mood and energy levels - allowing you to provide the best care possible to your patients. Now, we’d love to hear from you! Feel free to share your favorite tips for staying healthy as a nurse by joining our community on Instagram or Facebook.