Nurses have one of the most demanding jobs on the planet. They often have to deal with constant stress and working as a nurse full-time can be very taxing on the body. This is why they need to spend at least as much time monitoring their health as they do the health of their patients. They also need to keep tabs on their mental well-being so it doesn’t end up affecting how they interact with the people they work with or lead to burnout. Let’s take a look at some essential health tips every nurse should live by.
Take a Long Hard Look at Your Mental State
How do you feel when you wake up in the morning before a long shift or when you have to get through the doors of your hospital? Are you filled with a sense of joy and purpose or do you suddenly get filled with a sense of dread? If you feel like you want to crawl back to bed or are having an existential crisis every time you need to go in for a shift, then it’s a clear sign that there’s something wrong.
In most cases, however, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to look for another job. It might simply mean that you’ve outgrown your current position. Maybe you should look at openings in other departments and see if changing floors could help. Or you could consider moving into a specialization that would be more fulfilling.
Maybe you could move into a field like midwifery, for instance. If you’re currently working the floor, your duties and the pace of work will be very different as a midwife. You’ll also have a different purpose and will have a chance to form much closer bonds with patients, which may be all that you need.
You should also know that getting your credentials is much easier than ever now that online programs are readily available. You could get your DNP in midwifery from Baylor University Online and get your credentials while you work. You’ll then be able to not only work as a midwife but even start your own clinic in many states. This will give you more freedom and could end up adding several years to your career.
We can give you all sorts of health advice, but all of it will be useless if you don’t sleep well. Sleep is extremely important for anyone who wants to live a healthier, happier life, but it is especially important for nurses.
Sleep is when your body ramps up its repair processes and helps you recover physically and mentally from your day. Good sleep can help you cope with stress better. It will also make you more focused, allow you to be more alert, and improve your mood. Good sleep is also essential for good heart health.
If you want to get the best sleep possible, the first thing we suggest you do is practice sound sleep hygiene. If you have a fixed schedule, try to get to bed at the same time every night. Shut down any device that emits light as the type of light electronic devices generate can destroy your sleep patterns.
Next, you should consider investing in some black-out shades. This could be the single most important addition you can make to your bedroom, especially if you work nights. Just a tiny bit of light entering the room can be enough to trip your internal clock. You should also think about getting smart thermostats if you haven’t already.
You may not know this, but there is an optimal temperature range for sleep. This range is said to be between 60°F and 67°F. A smart thermostat will allow you to lower the temperature right before you’re getting ready to go to sleep and increase it right before it’s time to get up.
Review Your Diet
What you put in your body has a major influence on your health, mood, and performance. Coffee is a fixture on hospital floors, and while it can be a good pick me up from time to time, it can also make dealing with stress much more difficult.
If you absolutely need caffeine to get your day started, you should go with green tea instead. It has caffeine just like coffee does, but it also has a compound known as L-Theanine which takes some of the edge off caffeine and has been shown to improve cognitive function.
You also have to be careful about what you eat during your shifts. Snacking smart could be all that you need to give you a steady supply of energy all day long.
The two most important nutrients you need to think about are protein and carbs. Protein is important and it doesn’t only help you maintain your muscle mass and boost your overall strength, but will also help with concentration and mood regulation. Protein will keep you full for longer as well.
Carbs are also very important because they provide your body and brain with fuel. This is why you need to use carbs with protein so you can have maximum energy and mental performance.
Your meals should consist of a good source of protein and complex carbs. Try to stay away from saturated fats as they can have a negative effect on cognition and can affect your mood negatively. Complex carbs like whole grains, brown rice, or sweet potatoes will be broken down more slowly than simple carbs and will give you a nice even level of energy all day long.
Your snacks should be as light as possible and contain the same elements. Things like cheese, nuts, and a banana, or hummus, whole wheat pita, and fruit salad are two examples of snacks that will give you all the energy you need at the end of a tough shift.
Practice Mindfulness and Meditation
Meditation is one of the best practices any nurse can adopt. Don’t be intimidated by the idea of meditation either. You don’t have to be chanting mantras under a bodhi tree to meditate. All you need is to find a comfortable and preferably quiet space and start paying attention to your thoughts without engaging them. Just doing this for about 10 minutes per day or during your breaks could bring immense benefits and leave you feeling refreshed.
These are all things that you can do to live a healthier life as a nurse. It all starts by taking a hard look at your habits and mental state and taking the proper steps to correct any issues.