Taking care of the ill and injured can be physically and emotionally demanding. With 12-hour shifts commonplace in healthcare settings, it makes sense that maintaining healthy habits can be very difficult. In honor of National Nurses Week, we focus our attention on the steps you can take to stay healthy throughout your nursing career.
Eat Small Portions and Often
Adopt a grazing approach to eating, since it helps you to maintain your energy levels and avoid hunger pangs while at work. Bringing light, well-balanced meals such as lean meats and raw salads make it easier for you to control your food choices.
Make Healthier Snack Choices
The snacks you select during your working hours can take a toll on your productivity and performance, as well as your waistline. Trail mix, rice cakes and low fat yogurt are smart snack options as they provide an energy boost without the crash-and-burn effect of junk foods.
Work out before Your Shift
Exercising before work is wise as it will boost your energy levels and help you shake off drowsiness. Even just 20 minutes of brisk walking or cycling can heighten your alertness and help you think more clearly. Avoid exercise after work, especially if you are heading to bed after a grueling shift. You might, however, consider gentle exercise such as yoga or Pilates to relax your mind and body.
Keep Your Options Open
If your schedule is too demanding to allow for regular exercise, find ways to incorporate it into your work routine. Workout by climbing the stairs, walking the corridors or jogging outside on your breaks. Exercise during your shift is a good way to reboot your energy levels when fatigue starts to rear its ugly head.
Prioritize Your Sleep
Take measures to create an environment conducive for sleep, since this will improve the quality of your sleep. Use blackout curtains or blinds, and disconnect anything that will disrupt your sleep. A peaceful setting will help coax your body into falling asleep and staying asleep.
You Can Do This!
Long hours can be tough. It is important to acknowledge your need for self-care even when you feel exhausted. By watching your diet, finding time for exercise and sleep, and asking for support from family, friends, and colleagues when you need it, you can strike the right balance between caring for yourself and caring for others. Keep up the hard work, and know that what you do is appreciated by many, including all of us at South University!