Written by: Morgan Curry, BSN, RN
Nurses are people too – overworked, burned out, and exhausted. As a result, their physical and mental health is suffering.
Regardless of if you love your job or hate your job, there are things you still must do to maintain a happy and healthier lifestyle.
Nursing is hard, and when you are at work, taking care of your patient takes priority over everything else.
But when the shift ends, you must remember to take care of yourself because you cannot continue to provide and give your all to your patients if you are not catering to your own needs, too.
Of course, that is easier said than done, but to help you begin coping with stress and exhaustion from work or life in general, here is a list of the top three things you should remember when caring for yourself!
#1- Food is Fuel
Ensuring that you fuel your body with the proper nutrition is so important. Are you filling your body with fried food, sodas, energy drinks, and sweets? As a result, are you feeling sluggish?
When you provide your body with the proper nutrients, it will respond positively. It will bring you energy, provide immunity, decrease your blood pressure, and more.
I cannot stress this enough, but make sure you eat before your shift! If you can, try to steer away from the fast-food drive-thrus and go for something fresh and wholesome. Now, I know that is not always possible, and life can get busy, so it may be helpful to prep your meals ahead of time, so it is one less thing to worry about on your tight schedule!
Packing proper healthy snacks to munch on throughout your shift will help maintain your blood sugar and fight off cravings for sweets or caffeine. Fresh veggies, nuts, granola bars, and Greek yogurt are all great snack options!
Last, but most certainly not least, remember to drink water! Water. Water. Water. Drinking coffee and energy drinks cause you to dehydrate.
#2- Get the Rest You Deserve
According to an article from The American Nurse, "sleeping 7-8 hours per night is linked to a wide range of better health and safety outcomes."
I know it can be hard to prioritize yourself when you are used to giving and caring for others.
Trust me, I have been there, and it's extremely hard when you get stuck working the night shift. Trying to flip back and forth between day and night hours can make you feel terrible.
It has been proven that exhaustion and fatigue lead to decreased immune function, higher rates of depression, heart disease, and mood disturbances.
With that being said, get some sleep! Your patients need the best version of you, but more importantly, you deserve it, too!
#3- Stay Active
Not everyone is into the workout scene, I totally get that. But staying active outside of work is essential for your mental and physical health.
It does nothing for your body to work a 14-hour shift, go home and sleep, and then be a couch potato for the next two days.
Get outside and take a walk.
Go for a hike or a jog.
Go to a workout class, a gym, or yoga.
Take a bike ride with your kids.
Explore the great outdoors.
Staying active and exercising are proven methods to relieve stress, increase energy, and control weight. If you do not have the motivation to do it yourself, bring a friend. Maybe you'll find something that you love!
We are so busy taking care of others that we don't stop to take care of ourselves. As you go through your career, you learn things from mistakes and experiences.
Take these three things as guidance to lay a solid foundation for yourself to create or maintain a healthier lifestyle! We truly believe it will make all the difference.
Do you have any health tips? Let us know!