7 Ways Nurses Can Stay Happy and Healthy

7 Ways Nurses Can Stay Happy and Healthy

Nursing takes a toll on you physically and mentally. It is a stressful job, and you’re working with ill patients. Barriers like gloves and masks are precautions, but this doesn’t protect you from everything. And it doesn’t prevent the emotional toll of the job, or the tendency to work exhausting shifts fueled by an unhealthy diet. Yet the payoff to both you and your patients is immense if you can remain physically and mentally healthy. Here are 7 ways nurses can stay happy and healthy.

Exercise Hard Enough to Sweat

While nurses are often on their feet, this is still not enough to count as a workout. You should exercise hard enough to work up a sweat. There are several reasons to do this. First, this level of exercise helps you burn off stress. Second, it gets your heart rate up, and that’s necessary to maintain your cardiovascular health. Furthermore, you should try to exercise on your days off. Then you’re getting your heartrate up at least two days a week. In addition to that, exercise has a significant effect on your hormonal system, and therefore, your mood and sleep cycle. Exercise also boosts the production of dopamine, which will increase things like motivation, morale, and also give you a cognitive boost.

Take All Practical Precautions

As a nurse, you’re surrounded by germs. You have an obligation to protect yourself and patients, so you should keep your immunizations up to date. You also need to maintain all safety measures like gloves, face masks and regular hand washing. This is essential to maintaining your health and protecting patients.

Ensure Good Quality Sleep

Long shifts and unusual working hours exact a heavy toll on your body. On top of that, it makes it hard to sleep. Yet the lack of sleep can cause you to make mistakes that only add to your stress level. It also depresses your immune system. This is why you have to ensure good quality sleep when you get off work, no matter which shift you’re working.

One solution is investing in blackout curtains as then it will be easier to sleep during the day. Also, don’t eat too much before you go to sleep, and don’t consume too much caffeine late in your shift, since that will make it difficult to sleep later. Turn off the lights and screens several hours before you plan on going to sleep, and that means you must stop looking at your phone. Turn off the phone, too, so that you’re not bothered by texts and calls. Ensure that you get seven to nine hours of sleep every day. This means prioritizing sleep over other things you might do when you are off work.

Have a Life Away from Work

Nursing is a stressful career. If you take your work home with you, worrying about patients and performance, it will add to your stress level. The solution is to find things you enjoy and can do on a regular basis when you are off shift. This helps get your mind off work. It could be gardening or another hobby, it might be meeting with friends, or it could be focusing on family when you’re home.

Read books and take time to relax. Don’t forget to take vacations, too. You can even give yourself a mental break from work by investing time in planning your next vacation.

Move into Administration

One possible solution for stress or physical strain at work is to move into another role; for example, you could consider moving into an administrative role. This is not always easy if you have a busy schedule, though. However, you could consider enrolling on a DNP executive leadership program online that will enable you to move into nursing management. This will allow you to have a greater impact at work while earning a higher pay rate. You will be able to improve patient outcomes without dealing with patients directly. And the best part is that you can get your formation while you still maintain your position.

Process Painful Moments Properly

Nurses are going to have to deal with tragedy on a regular basis. This includes the death of a patient you’ve treated for weeks or tried to save. You can’t avoid grief in cases like this. The solution is not to bury yourself in work. Instead, participate in the grieving process; allow yourself to feel grief and share it with coworkers and the family of the patient. Consider writing condolence cards to the family or attending the funeral of the patient.

Have someone you can talk to about work. This could be your partner, a family member or a friend, or it could be a trained therapist. Have someone who can offer support when you’re experiencing problems or tragedy at work.

Eat Healthy

They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If you’re a nurse working another shift, the most important meal of your “day” will be the meal before your shift. If you eat a healthy meal before you go to shift, you’re less likely to eat unhealthy snacks throughout the shift. Better yet, take your own healthy meals and snacks to work. Then you’re less likely to join others loading up on carbohydrates and sugar on break. A side benefit of planning healthy snacks and meals is that you’ll have more energy through your shift.

You also need to stay hydrated. Doctors generally recommend drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. You can use a refillable water bottle to stay hydrated throughout the day. If you’re tired of drinking water, add fruit flavor or seltzer so that you get hydrated without adding sugar to your diet.

Nurses focus on taking care of others; however, they need to take care of themselves. You shouldn’t feel guilty about this; it will give you the ability to give your patients the highest quality of care and prevent the burnout that drives many from the profession.

02 Nov 2019
Singapore Expats