We nurses advocate healthy lifestyle, teach our patients the tips and tricks of staying healthy, and at times we compromise ourselves to the service of others. Some nurses and other medical professionals resort to vices, that in turn, some patients question their credibility in providing care. [no_toc]
Hmm… Do you have anything to say about that?
Nurses are prone to encounter difficulty during their change of schedules, especially when they have been stuck in the same shift in a very long time. The stress that goes through their minds, thinking about the change in their cycle, circadian rhythm, and their activities, cause them to either overwork or underperform. Both are unhealthy.
As a nurse, those are some of the many reasons why it is important to maintain your health – to be a role model to your patients and to provide better holistic care. Who wants to have a sick nurse or to be sick in any cases, anyway?
Here are tips that you can do to optimize your health, during or after your shift.
AS THEY SAY, “when the going gets tough, the tough gets going,” and nurses always face different situations during their shift. The world of “toxic” is very famous to the nurses who are always busy, and doing something, somewhere. It’s like having an unending to-do list and all are priority no. 1, but hey, that’s what we nurses do, and vowed to do – we love to care. And in those times of difficulty, these activities might help relieve some of the stress:
1. Don’t be afraid to show your hobbies.
Do you love music, perhaps reading a book, or drawing/doodling? According to a research, having leisure activities for a minimum of 20 minutes in a week decreases the level of fatigue. So use your break time wisely.
Hobbies come in different forms and shapes, and if you say you got none, it is the right time to have one. Just don’t bring your pets to your work, in case your hobby is to play with your pets. Make sure that the hobby you bring to work is something convenient for you to do.
2. There’s comfort in your rituals.
Make a routine schedule before and after your shift, perhaps drinking coffee or eating something sweet before your shift starts can prepare your mind that it’s “crunch time,” or cleaning your work area, or emptying your uniform’s pocket, helps our body to rest. Do things that suit you best, rather than talk about the patients you have handled during the shift – it’s just a way to add more to your stress.
Other rituals you can do are deep breathing, pampering self and fixing your appearance (for girls putting make up before and after work helps), while others believe in the power of prayers.
Nurses who are under high amounts of stress tend to lose their focus, might perform mismanagement and if too much to handle causes burn out. We have to perform activities to make our shifts, lively, interesting, and lesser cause of stress in order to keep our focus and sanity to reach our goal.
PERHAPS THIS IS the most common stress reliever of nurses – do activities after work, especially if the next day is an off duty then the fun really begins.
They say that nurses don’t have a social life because after work, you feel tired and just would want to go to sleep. But you see your friends or colleagues enjoying their “night life” (going out after your shift), you deserve to enjoy them, too!
3. Be an adventurer! Start new and exciting hobbies.
There are a lot of places and things to discover don’t be stuck in just one state, grab the chance, go and explore. You can do this alone or with a friend – the more the merrier!
Some nurses are actually artistic, and if you got time, why not join a choir, learn arts or painting, and others. Discover your talents and add new hobbies. Remember, learning doesn’t have to end after nursing school!
4. Pamper yourself.
A day in a spa, massage center, and/or yoga class helps soothe those tense muscles, male nurses can also enjoy these things. It is proven that an hour of massage is equal to eight hours of complete rest.
5. Socialize with friends at work, colleagues, friends outside of work, and your family.
One of the favorite things nurses do is to hang out in a bar or café with some friends, chatter and mingle with other people. Although this is common, we tend to do one thing – to bring up work, and that in turn gives, for some, negative feelings about the next duties. So as a rule, don’t talk about things that will give you stress, and don’t think too much about work.
Who wants movies? Or concerts? Go and do it, you don’t just work to work and work and work. You work so that you can provide necessities (for your family), and you work to enjoy your life.
Why not go to the gym, do some workout at home, have a picnic, or join a club. Physical activities have always been a good way to burn those extra calories, build muscle tone and strength, and give you relaxation.
Nurses are innovative; we know that you can think of other ways to relieve your stress after work. Besides, you have much time outside of work more than having eight hours of your shift. If you, at some point, seem to have done everything (you think), to relieve stress, perhaps an alone time can help. Also remember, try something different.
HYGIENE SHOULD ALWAYS be a top priority for nurses. Many times over, it has been proven that hand washing is still the best measure to decrease the transmission of healthcare-associated infections, and a lot of medical practitioners are non-compliant with these guidelines. Protect yourselves and the patients you take care of by practicing proper hygiene.
6. Protect yourselves and others. Do personal hygiene!
When is the best time to take a bath, before or after your shift? Both have their own benefits and reasons for nurses. Taking a bath before your shift awakens your spirit (think about the cold jolt of a shower water!) and gets you up and running for work. Meanwhile, showering after shift helps to freshen and remove any microorganisms that you may have come across during the shift.
During the your shift, perform the necessary precautions and requirements to protect yourselves. As nurses we should always be on the lookout for germs, and not be carriers of infection. Hand washing and use of sanitizers augment this simple task, so make it a habit!
7. Maintain cleanliness in your work area.
What is a nurses’ work area? Is it the nurses’ station, perhaps the nurses’ lounge, or is it the whole ward? As a nurse you have the responsibility to maintain the area that you manage, and yes, you got it right, it is the ward. It is not solely the responsibility of the janitors or hospital cleaners, yes of course they clean the area, but as nurses we should check and maintain the cleanliness of the ward.
Cleanliness in the hospital and with the medical professionals has always been a focus for a lot of researches. Why do you think that it’s so difficult to follow? Is it a problem with time? Nurses, being clean should never have any excuse; we should be carriers of health and not of diseases.
FOOD IS ONE of the best comforts in the world, they give pleasure and satisfaction, as well as the energy you need to go through the shift. But at times nurses still experience not lack of energy during their shift. Here are some suggestions to help you survive your shift:
8. For the day shift nurses, eat your breakfast.
Breakfast, still the best source of energy that we need to start the day. But what should we have? Well, what do you think, nurses? This should be an easy one!
It should be heavy. Some suggest that it should be high in protein, carbohydrates, and fiber, these includes yoghurt, some kinds of cheese, whole wheat bread, shakes, and fruits.
Make some snacks. Depending on your designated ward and activities, you might need some breaks (aside from lunch), the snack should be healthy, like a sandwich, fruits or muffins.
9. More than just snacks for the afternoon shift.
For some nurses, lunch is enough before the shift, and then the regular dinner is okay for the whole shift. But for some, they need more than that. That is why the snacks should also power you.
Soups. Depending on what kind you like, soups are not just complete, but comforting. It’s easy to heat too, just pop in the oven and ready to eat in minutes.
Finger foods. Others suggest finger foods because of the convenience it gives. Just be careful in eating them, you might not observe that you’re getting too much and ruining your diet. Healthy snacks include granola bars, cheese, sliced fruits.
Caffeine. Who wouldn’t like a dose of caffeine, especially in some hospitals or wards that it’s free! Some nurses call this a life saver, especially for the sleepy heads – additional energy that will save you to finish the job. With the many known benefits of drinking coffee, just make sure you don’t drink excessively (incoming shift might think differently, because of how you look!)
10. Dinner or midnight snacks for the night shift nurses.
One of the most difficult things about midnight shift is the transition and getting used to with the schedule. When everyone else are sleeping, you have to be awake. You feel like everything about your system is in opposite motion. And it is just correct to feel that. Your hormones are disrupted, your sleeping pattern is distorted, and the feeling of the night makes you want to stop what you are doing and lay on the bed. Here are the best things you can do during the night:
Water is your best friend. To prevent bloating and to keep the rhythm of your digestive system drink lots of water.
Bring light snacks. Unless you are in the “toxic” wards, such as E.R., otherwise you don’t need heavy meals. Examples of light snacks are granola, pretzels, string cheese, sliced fruits, and yoghurt.
Don’t overdo caffeine. It is important to keep alertness, but depending too much on caffeinated drinks can have consequences to your health, too.
Healthy meals whatever the shift is. Take some time to prepare your meal, some food that can be used to wake your senses is chili, incorporate them in your favorite sandwich, pasta or even salad – healthy and simple.
Avoid binge eating or stress eating. Don’t do calorie loading, thinking that it is enough for the rest of your shift. And don’t skip meals, this can cause your blood glucose levels to drop, then causing you eat (stress eat), and this is not healthy for you.
Cooking shows, online recipes, and countless others that offer new ways to prepare food, and take note they are especially made for nurses. Why not give them a try; making this change can help you see a different perspective on your profession. And perhaps one day, you might have your own cookbook to help other nurses like you!
NURSES NEED BREAKS, too. It can be done during or after your shift, away from work and away from the stress. You deserve every right to be healthy and there are myriad of ways to achieve it. You have to break the chain and do something different to change your lifestyle and your work routine. These changes will have tremendous results in the future and a big impact on everyone surrounding you. Remember that you are a human being and not a robot, and to be effective health care providers, you must show to your patients that you also live a healthy lifestyle.
Just a quick note to all the nurses: To enjoy the guide above, you must make it more personal. The more heart you put into it the better the result for yourself and your work!