Nurse Jacqui Garland offers these wellness tips to her fellow nursing friends, who often forget to make time to care for themselves.
Nursing is a demanding job both mentally and physically. We dedicate so much of ourselves that sometimes, we forget how important self-care is. I realized this while I was on my seemingly excessive fifth cup of coffee for the day, after which I realized I was great at educating my patients on improving their health, but never took my own advice. While we will always put others first, here are several tips to keep both your sanity and health in check.
Shut off the TV, turn off the phone, spray some lavender essential oil on your pillowcase and snooze. Nothing will replace good sleep. This will keep you alert and happy.
Drink plenty of water
Drink a glass of water before your shift. Keep a water bottle in the back room and try to take a sip every hour. Stay hydrated. It will keep your mind active and body moving.
Go for a 15-minute walk
Get off of the unit, away from the call bells and noise, even just for 15 minutes. It will allow you to clear your head. Get some fresh air, take deep breaths, play some music and reflect. When you walk back on the unit you will be refreshed and more productive with a clear sense of direction.
Wear compression stockings
You need to try this if you’re not doing it already! This is life-changing, and your legs will thank you. Spending the majority of the day on your feet puts excessive pressure on your lower extremities. Wearing compression stockings will increase your energy, prevent early varicose veins from forming, reduce swelling and decrease the amount of pain you have at the end of your shift. They come in a variety of colors and patterns and are sold in most scrub shops.
Pack a nutritious lunch with plenty of grab-and-go options
If you ask a nurse if they’ve eaten yet, chances are they’ll say, “No, I haven’t had a minute yet.” Pack nutritious snacks that are easy to eat while you document, such as a granola bar, carrots and fruit. Staying full on healthy items may even deter you from the delicious donuts a family member brought in to thank you for doing an amazing job.
When you’re drowning, ask for help
This is especially good advice for new nurses. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. We’ve all been there, and more times than not we’ve all gotten help to make it through a difficult day. Teamwork makes the dream work.
Get rid of negative self-talk
I should have … I could have … I wish I … What’s done is done. If you’ve made a mistake, you’ve learned a great lesson. Praise yourself for the good things that you made happen in your day. You are unique, irreplaceable, and essential to the team.
Remember the reason
Reflect on why you became a nurse. It is easy to get caught in the tasks and frustrations of the day. We often forget how much of a difference we can make in one person’s life. Talk to your patients; you’d be surprised to know the amount of insight I’ve received from my patients.
Find balance Leave your work concerns at work. They are no use to you at home. Go out with friends who don’t talk about bowel movements at the dinner table. Find passion in other things in life. Take a new yoga class. Explore life! There is so much it can offer.
Make a commitment to yourself to create a better you. A happier, healthier you will increase efficiency during the day and may encourage others to do the same. Keep your passion for nursing and continue to change lives. n
By Jacqui Garland