12 Healthy Workplace Habits for the Busy Nurse

Creating healthy work habits can be hard. Nurses are busy and some jobs leave little time for down-time. Learn what you need to know to stay healthy at work.

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  • Specializes in Workforce Development, Education, Advancement. Has 25 years experience.

Being healthy at work takes intention. Nurses in the hospital do not always get the luxury of having a 30-minute lunch away from the commotion of the floor. If you work in an office, it's likely easier to get away. However, our nature is to work, work, and then work some more.

Let's explore some easy ways to infuse your work day with nutrition, exercise, and overall healthy habits.

Pack Your Lunch

Taking the time to pack your lunch can be hard. Between family life and work, who has time for extra meal prep, right?

But, packing a healthy lunch helps gives you the energy you need for the day. And, packing your lunch can put a few extra dollars in your wallet compared to eating out!


Remember in grade school when the teacher would start the day with some stretches? Or, maybe after lunch when she saw everyone drifting off? There was a reason behind her madness.

Stretching helps to keep your muscles healthy. You will likely go home with tired feet, but a sore neck and back on top of those feet is just no fun.

Choose Your Lunch PALS Wisely

Eating meals with others has mental, social and biological benefits. It gives a natural rhythm to meal times. Eating with others who pack fruits, veggies, and other healthy snacks can help you eat healthier too. So, go ahead, hang out with the health-nuts at work and watch your habits improve!

Walk Away From the Computer

If you work in an office, it's easy to get in the bad habit of staring at the computer all day. Try to plan short breaks away from the computer to give your eyes, neck, and back rest.


If you are anything like me, drinking lots of water all day is boring. Add some fruit, like lemon, lime, or berries to spice it up. Water helps with energy levels throughout the day, brain function, and can even help with weight loss.

Avoid Too Much Caffeine

Many of us are guilty of grabbing that third or fourth cup of coffee or soda to stay awake. But, too much of a good thing can be dangerous, and caffeine is no different.

According to Mayo Clinic, 400 milligrams of caffeine each day appears to be safe. That's about four cups of coffee. Too much caffeine can cause migraines, insomnia, irritability, and tachycardia. Try switching to caffeine free drinks or substituting all together with fruit infused water.

Snack Away

Healthy snacks are good for you. Eating small meals throughout the day helps keep your blood sugar and energy levels stable. Pack high protein snacks that you can eat on the go, like cheese sticks, trail mix, or peanut butter celery sticks.

Manage Stress

Life as a nurse is hectic. And, this only accounts for the 8 or 12 hours you are at work. Home life can be stressful too.

Be sure to practice self-care for your body and mind too. Meditation can help you be present, control your emotions, and offer a sense of purpose. Take a quick 5-minute break away from the chaos. Close your eyes, and be still. This simple practice can do wonders for your mental health on stressful days.

Stand Tall

Taking care of your body is important. Whether you are sitting in an office or lifting patients, spine health is essential to your overall well-being.

Bend at the waist and knees when lifting. Exercise your core to strengthen your back muscles. Buy shoes that fit properly and support your arch. Take frequent stretch breaks and sit up straight. Adjust your desk and computer height so that you are looking straight ahead while you work.

Hand sanitizer

If you are in the hospital, this is a no-brainer. Those of us in offices tend to forget how important it is to keep our hands clean. Keep hand sanitizer at your desk and apply liberally. Cubicle spaces are breeding grounds for germs.

Get Outside

If you have 5 minutes to walk away from the busyness of work, go outside. Breathe in some fresh air and let the sun hit your face.

If you have enough time, take a quick walk around the parking lot or block. This will help ease stress and even injects a bit of exercise into your workday.

Call it Quits

Working too much is a bad habit. As nurses, we often feel that we are needed, which is great. But, too much work leaves you at risk of burnout. Don't pick up the extra shift or task your boss is offering. Enjoy your time off.

Practicing self-care at work can be hard. But, if you are not healthy, who will be there to care for patients? Choose one of these habits and put it into practice.

Do you have any tricks that help you stay healthy at work? Share in the comments below. We would love to hear how you infuse your work day with health and wellness.

Melissa Mills has been a nurse for 20 years. She is a freelance writer, career coach, and owner of makingspace.company. She enjoys writing about leadership, careers, lifestyle, and wellness.

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Great Article ! Your tips are ones that I believe we all forget in the midst of the madness of life/nursing; they're very helpful. I'm definitely going to keep these in mind for the future.


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Be rested before going to work. Working too many hours will not be accepted as an excuse when you make a mistake at work.

Melissa Mills, BSN

139 Articles; 316 Posts

Specializes in Workforce Development, Education, Advancement. Has 25 years experience.

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