Nursing is a demanding job both mentally and physically. You dedicate so much of yourselves that sometimes you can forget how important self-care is. While by nature nurses put others first, here are several tips to help you keep both your sanity and health in check.
Nothing will replace good sleep. It will keep you alert and happy.
It might just keep you healthy, too. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lack of enough sleep or quality sleep can impact your heart health and put you at greater risk for conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.
How can you get a better night’s sleep? The CDC recommends the following:
- Schedule your bedtime each night and stick with it. Go to bed at the same time each night, and wake up at the same time—even on weekends.
- Make sure you get enough natural light, especially during daytime hours.
- Get enough exercise and physical activity during the day.
- Turn off the TV, and put away your smart phone and other devices a few hours before bedtime.
- Avoid food and drink, especially alcohol and food high in fat and sugar, within a few hours of bedtime.
- Keep your bedroom cool, dark and quiet.
Drink Plenty of Water
Drink a glass of water before your shift. Keep a water bottle in the break 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 Socks
Spending the majority of the day on your feet puts excessive pressure on your lower extremities.
Wearing compression socks can 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 and Snacks
If you ask a nurse if they’ve eaten yet, chances are they’ll say, “No, I haven’t had time 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 tempting donuts a family member brought in to thank you for doing an amazing job.
Ask for Help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. This is especially good advice for new nurses. We’ve all been there before, and more often than not, we’ve 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. Instead of criticizing yourself, reflect on the good things that you made happen in your day. You are unique and essential to the team.
Remember the Reason
Reflect on why you became a nurse. It is easy to get caught up in the tasks and frustrations of the day while forgetting about how much of a difference you can make in one person’s life. Talk to your patients; you may be surprised to learn the amount of insight they have.
Leave your work concerns at work. They are of 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 be more effective during the day and may encourage others to do the same. It’s important to keep your passion for nursing alive so you can continue to change lives.
The content of this site is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical conditions or treatments.