When you spend your days taking care of critically ill patients, it’s easy to let your own health concerns slip into the background. Sadly, not only are many nurses too distracted by their work to focus on their health, nursing itself is one of the most mentally and physically draining professions you could choose, and your own job might be doing you harm. Fortunately, many generations of great nurses have nailed down the basics of maintaining mental and physical stability. Here’s what you should do to keep yourself healthy as a nurse.
Health tips for nurses
1. Know your limits
Whether out of passion for your job or a need for extra cash, it can be tempting to take on more work when it’s offered. Even during each shift, new assignments or admissions might pop up, and you might struggle to say no, even though you don’t have an ounce of time or energy to spare. Respect your limits! In nursing, there’s no quick sprint to the end of the line. If you want to remain healthy, you need to stick to a pace you can maintain long term. It might be hard at first, but learning to say “no” will be one of the best things you can do for your career.
2. Maintain a personal life
Due to the heavy and hectic workload, nurses struggle to maintain their work/life balance. Though it’s easy to form a close group of work friends that share professional interests, it’s important you don’t let your job consume every corner of your life. Instead, keep in touch with friends from outside work, and pursue interests that don’t have to do with your career.
3. Treat breaks like part of your “to-do” list
When scheduled meds, treatments and other tasks are piling up, it’s easy to tell yourself there’s barely time to breathe, let alone take a break. For once, however, science and fun are on the same team! Studies prove that regular breaks improve productivity, and striking a balance between work and rest is the best way to maintain your sanity. Instead of leaving breaks to chance, put them on your work list along with all your other vital tasks.
4. Watch your diet
Despite the fact they spend all day busy on their feet, nurses are among those most likely to be overweight or obese. Though other factors are involved, diet is a major player in the game. After all, what nurse hasn’t relied on coffee, energy drinks, vending machines or dicey cafeteria food at some point in their career? In contrast, those who make a special effort to bring their own food, relying on fresh, healthy ingredients, will see their energy levels and overall health start to improve.
5. Get more sleep
Though experts almost universally agree that long shifts are terrible for our health, 12-hour shifts have become the norm for nurses. Though there are some benefits to this schedule, you’ll need to make a special effort to offset the damage that is done to your sleep schedule and general health. On days you’re working, don’t pretend you can work a full shift, care for normal responsibilities, and still make it to bed on time. Instead, make adjustments to your schedule, sacrificing some of your chores or recreation, so you still get the rest you need.
6. Start an exercise program
Walking the floors of your hospital day in and day out is a good start, but it’s not enough to maintain balanced health. Since their schedules are so demanding, nurses need to be especially disciplined with their exercise plans, and you should add an exercise routine to your week as soon as possible.
The more time you’re able to save on every task, the more you will be able to focus on your health and your career. The Nurse Backpack app is designed to streamline your workload, so you will have more time for what matters. Download our app today!