We want to remind you how vital it is for nurses to remember to look after and nurture themselves and to just their patients, with 5 simple but effective ways to do it.
Being on the frontlines of health care comes with some incredible rewards and experiences. However, nurses can be placed under tremendous anxiety and stress on the job and at times find they compromise themselves for the service of others.
Stress is one of the most under-appreciated but impactful issues which nurses face. It surfaces in so many aspects of your work and personal life. It can be easier said than done to keep everything in perspective and put the necessary effort in to take care of yourself.
Perhaps you haven’t been able to find the spare time between your long and varied shift patterns, or you struggle with developing a plan that will fit into your lifestyle. Break the chain now and do something different to what you’re use to. The smallest changes over time will have a big impact on your mental and physical health. Start now.
Weird hours and long shifts can take its toll on you. Getting a good night’s sleep is essential to proper brain functioning, it plays a role in our physical and mental health tremendously and many of us do not get enough of it.
A half-sleeping brain is unlikely to make the quickest and most sound decisions, a crucial skill for a nurse when dispensing medication, assessing patients and identifying critical changes. This is because your metabolism, mood, memory, concentration, stress hormones and immune system are all adversely affected by a lack of sleep.
Intense fatigue can be dangerous for yourself when you commute for your shift too. Most adults need 7-8 hours of good quality sleep a night. If you’re not finding enough time to sleep then think about changing up your routine.
2. Hobbies and Passions
Take time every week or two to do what you enjoy and blow off some steam. Having an outlet outside of nursing is a great way to do this. Your hobbies might include arts and crafts, reading, a musical instrument or perhaps travelling or sports.
In a profession as a registered nurse, your body is your livelihood and it is very important to care for it. If you are a nurse working in a fast paced environment you might often find yourself short of time.
This can present challenges for you when it comes to healthy eating, as the shift work, workplace food options and restricted access to meal breaks, lead you to rely on a diet of quick and easy food high in fat, sodium, sugar and additives. Remember that your body is a machine after all and you need to makes choices to feed it the right kinds of foods.
The benefits are huge, keeping you energised for longer, helping you maintain a healthy weight, helping your bodies ability to fight illnesses, reducing your blood pressure and so many more.Spend 10 minutes doing a bit of planning each week to take a healthy lunch and snack to your shift.
Read labels - Use the Nutrition Facts Label, which is found on canned, frozen and packaged foods and drinks. You find the amounts of saturated fat, sodium and added sugars in the foods and drinks you are choosing. -
Whole fruits - To get the benefit of the natural fibre in fruits, you should eat fruit whole rather than as juices which takes a lot of the goodness out. Aim to eat three fruits every day, switching a Mars bar for an apple to satisfy those sugar cravings.-
Vegetables - Eat a variety of colours and types of vegetables every day- Plenty of whole grain - Whole grains include brown rice, whole wheat bread and whole grain cereals. At least half of the cereals, breads, crackers, and pastas you eat should be whole grains. -
Hydrate - Make sure to drink water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Not drinking enough H2O can spark hunger pangs, which may actually just be thirst.
Amongst healthcare professionals, practising mindfulness will help you have greater awareness and less distraction at work, improving your assessment skills and performance of procedures that may reduce risk of clinical errors.
Communication with patients and your team members can be enhanced as the ability to listen and speak with greater attention can lead to more effective communication and better clinical outcomes, particularly if you found yourself in a crisis situation.With this understanding comes the possibility of providing wiser and more compassionate care for your patients and yourself.
How to Practice Mindfulness
1. Take a seat. Find a place to sit that feels calm and quiet to you.Set a time limit. If you’re just beginning, it can help to choose a short time, such as 5 or 10 minutes.
2. Notice your body. You can sit in a chair with your feet on the floor, you can sit loosely cross-legged, you can kneel—all are fine. Just make sure you are stable and in a position you can stay in for a while.
3. Body Scan. Put yourself in the present moment, the most accessible way is through our senses. Pay attention to your body, scanning through it from your toes to the top of your head, noticing what each body part is feeling.
4. Feel your breath. Follow the sensation of your breath as it goes out and as it goes in.
5. Notice when your mind has wandered. Inevitably, your attention will leave the sensations of the breath and wander to other places. When you get around to noticing this—in a few seconds, a minute, five minutes—simply return your attention to your breath.
Check out these awesome mindfulness apps to help you along:
Insight Timer: This is one of themes popular free meditation apps around. It has over 4,000 guided meditations on topics like self-compassion, nature and stress.
Stop, Breathe & Think: This app will help you get acquainted with mindfulness, with a section called Learn to Meditate explaining what mindfulness is and it even covers some of the neuroscience of mindfulness.
Some form of exercise daily or even just weekly, brings tremendous health benefits, including an increased lifespan, lowered risk of disease, and weight loss and better sleep at night.If you haven’t the time to take part in exercise, try changing up parts of your routine.
Make small changes, such as choosing to take the stairs over the lift, starting a morning exercise routine, or taking up a sport. Sport is a great way to do exercise. If you pick one you enjoy, you will have fun whilst exercising and naturally want to continue to do it.
Swimming is great for your overall wellbeing, requiring you to use all of your body’s muscles whilst also de-stressing and relaxing you. Swimming for just 30 minutes, three times a week will boost your energy levels, through increasing metabolic rate.
The gym is potentially an easier way to fit exercise into your schedule, fitting it around your busy timetable when you need to. You might also find a gym holds a range of different classes you can go to such as cycling or yoga.
Yoga has many mental and physical benefits. It improves memory, concentration, posture, steadiness, coordination and balance, decreasing joint and back pain and increasing immunity, it also greatly reduces stress, anxiety and pain, transforming it into peace, health and wisdom. Click to find out more about yoga. Often thought of as learning an instrument as opposed to an exercise class,
Tai Chi is an ancient wellness practise about aligning energy in the body as well as the mind. It is the perfect way to slow down but build your mental and physical health.
If you are a nurse who wants more control over your work life, click here to join us.