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Three Tips for a Living a Healthier Lifestyle as a Nurse

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As a nurse, your life can be hectic. Drive-thrus, poor sleeping habits, and staying active are all challenges when it feels like all we do is work. Check out my top three tips for living a healthier lifestyle while navigating through the chaos of your busy nursing schedule; you won't regret it!

by Nursing CE Central Nursing CE Central (Trusted Brand)

Specializes in Nursing CEU Provider.

Are you living a healthy lifestyle??

Three Tips for a Living a Healthier Lifestyle as a Nurse

Written by Morgan Curry, BSN, RN for Nursing CE Central

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!

Morgan serves as the Course Curriculum Executive Editor and Content Manager at Nursing CE Central. Her extensive background in a Level I Trauma Hospital setting provides vast clinical insight into high octane clinical care, along with a deep understanding of specialized areas of nursing such as heart and lung transplants, ECMO, and cardiac surgery recovery. Morgan’s professional versatility also extends into the highly sought-after field of aesthetic nursing, with comprehensive experience in the Plastic Surgery field; including nurse leadership in PACU, PERI-OP, and OR departments.

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8 Comment(s)

macawake, MSN

Has 13 years experience.

Quote

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.  

I definitely agree with you that nutritious food, getting enough rest and sleep and plenty of exercise, is the key to good health. However in my opinion we spend way too much of our lives at work, to only take care of ourselves when we’re off the clock.

I’ve been a nurse for over a decade working in a level 1 trauma hospital for all of it, and I’ve missed having a proper sit-down 30 minute meal break on about a dozen occasions in total. That’s it. I always take the time to use the restroom when needed, drink water and have one or two coffee breaks during my shifts. Some really busy shifts, I might have had my coffee while charting, but that’s rare. So I agree with you, that in order to care for our patients, we first have to take care of ourselves. Even during shifts. 

I don’t work in the U.S. and one difference might be that unions have more power than in many U.S. states, but it’s also a mindset that the employer supports. We get one hour paid time every week to go workout in the hospital staff gym or go for a run, and I usually combine that with my meal break. The employer will also cover $170 annually for a physical activity of your choice. They’ve doubled the amount to $340 for 2020 and 2021 due to Covid. This can be used for most sports, a membership at a gym, yoga, massages, whatever.

My point here is that I think that my employer has got it right. An employees’ health isn’t only the responsibility of the employee. It’s also the responsibility of the employer. They need to provide a working environment that makes it possible to have a healthy lifestyle. Even if the employee manages to summon up enough energy to do everything right during their off-duty hours, they will likely still struggle to remain healthy if the employer runs them ragged. We need healthy workplaces

Regarding the caffeine 😀 I’m Scandinavian and we drink a lot of ️ It’s been a while since I’ve checked the research on this, but from what I remember, a caffeinated drink like coffee doesn’t appear to cause dehydration in the habituated coffee drinker 👍🏻 I definitely drink more water than coffee, but I do drink about three ️ on an average day. However, no sodas ☠️

Curious1997, BSN

Specializes in Psych, Medical. Has 13 years experience.

My top tip is perspective! 

It's a job! Not a place to make friends or fraternize! 

You are a professional and you need to be able to follow the rules, focus and be objective! It's a world of consequences now. And you have worked hard for your license and paid a lot of money for it. 

With so many working cogs (people etc) you can be dragged into things that you had little to do with. 

This leads to objectivity and peace, which means less stress and better sleep, leading to more productive personal outcomes. A peaceful, focused mind can then deal with food and exercise goals much more successfully! 

Make your friends away from nursing and where you work. Keep them separate! 

Nursing is very stressful and minimizing that by objectivity, is the best way to help yourself! 

Emergent, RN

Specializes in ER. Has 28 years experience.

 Not much new information here. This has been known for centuries.

The best path towards better health is to get out of nursing and do something more wholesome. It's a terrible profession right now.

On 8/10/2021 at 3:28 PM, Curious1997 said:

My top tip is perspective! 

It's a job! Not a place to make friends or fraternize! 

You are a professional and you need to be able to follow the rules, focus and be objective! It's a world of consequences now. And you have worked hard for your license and paid a lot of money for it. 

With so many working cogs (people etc) you can be dragged into things that you had little to do with. 

This leads to objectivity and peace, which means less stress and better sleep, leading to more productive personal outcomes. A peaceful, focused mind can then deal with food and exercise goals much more successfully! 

Make your friends away from nursing and where you work. Keep them separate! 

Nursing is very stressful and minimizing that by objectivity, is the best way to help yourself! 

I spend more waking hours at work than home. I am certainly going to try to make it enjoyable and socialize and make friends while I'm there. 

Tweety, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac. Has 29 years experience.

1 hour ago, NotFlo said:

I spend more waking hours at work than home. I am certainly going to try to make it enjoyable and socialize and make friends while I'm there. 

My coworkers make it bearable.  It's one thing to not be drawn into negativity or drama, or socialize too much you get behind and lose your focus, but it's another to be antisocial.  If it we not for my work friends I wouldn't make it through the day.  I don't socialize away from work from any of them, but we're in this together.

Edited by Tweety

On 8/12/2021 at 8:57 PM, Tweety said:

My coworkers make it bearable.  It's one thing to not be drawn into negativity or drama, or socialize too much you get behind and lose your focus, but it's another to be antisocial.  If it we not for my work friends I wouldn't make it through the day.  I don't socialize away from work from any of them, but we're in this together.

Agreed. I also was at one job for about eight or nine years and have been at my current one for over five so...yeah I have become "work friends" with many of my co-workers over that amount of time. 

I agree to have a healthy lifestyle, I feel I generally live one, but when your shift is 14 hours, your commute is 45 minutes each way, there’s not enough time for 7-8 hours of sleep.  4-5 is more like it.  I still have a family to care for as well.

I don’t pick up a lot so I can pack everything I need into my days off.  I also noticed that with masks, my water consumption is way down.

Working out is my stress reliever.  So I do that at least 5 days a week.  I totally recommend taking an hour for yourself everyday.  That means I’m up at 4am on days I work.  But it’s totally worth it.

Psychnursehopeful, ASN, RN

Specializes in ICU.

On 8/10/2021 at 2:43 PM, macawake said:

I definitely agree with you that nutritious food, getting enough rest and sleep and plenty of exercise, is the key to good health. However in my opinion we spend way too much of our lives at work, to only take care of ourselves when we’re off the clock.

I’ve been a nurse for over a decade working in a level 1 trauma hospital for all of it, and I’ve missed having a proper sit-down 30 minute meal break on about a dozen occasions in total. That’s it. I always take the time to use the restroom when needed, drink water and have one or two coffee breaks during my shifts. Some really busy shifts, I might have had my coffee while charting, but that’s rare. So I agree with you, that in order to care for our patients, we first have to take care of ourselves. Even during shifts. 

I don’t work in the U.S. and one difference might be that unions have more power than in many U.S. states, but it’s also a mindset that the employer supports. We get one hour paid time every week to go workout in the hospital staff gym or go for a run, and I usually combine that with my meal break. The employer will also cover $170 annually for a physical activity of your choice. They’ve doubled the amount to $340 for 2020 and 2021 due to Covid. This can be used for most sports, a membership at a gym, yoga, massages, whatever.

My point here is that I think that my employer has got it right. An employees’ health isn’t only the responsibility of the employee. It’s also the responsibility of the employer. They need to provide a working environment that makes it possible to have a healthy lifestyle. Even if the employee manages to summon up enough energy to do everything right during their off-duty hours, they will likely still struggle to remain healthy if the employer runs them ragged. We need healthy workplaces
 

Regarding the caffeine 😀 I’m Scandinavian and we drink a lot of ️ It’s been a while since I’ve checked the research on this, but from what I remember, a caffeinated drink like coffee doesn’t appear to cause dehydration in the habituated coffee drinker 👍🏻 I definitely drink more water than coffee, but I do drink about three ️ on an average day. However, no sodas ☠️

Sounds like you live in a fantasy world. Hopefully the US can unionize and improve of working conditions.