Common sense says that trained healthcare workers should be exceptionally in tune with their own health, but this is one time that common sense gets absolutely shattered by reality. Not only are nurses prone to many physical ailments, but studies indicate they are more likely than most other professions to suffer from mental distress, as well. What’s behind the mental health epidemic in nursing?
Mental health in nursing
Experts agree that nurses and other professionals who deliver direct patient care are extremely likely to suffer from some form of mental distress. While many other professionals are able to perform their work and rapidly move on to another task, nurses and PCAs spend every day with the sick, often watching the same patients progress from bad to worse. When combined with long, difficult shifts, it’s no wonder nurses are prone to stress – and the damaging effects that come along with it.
Fortunately, there are many aspects of your mental health you can control. What can you do to take charge of your stress levels?
Acknowledge your needs
Admitting you have limits is the first step towards taking charge of your mental stability. Though you may be eager to help by taking on extra shifts and assignments, putting your own needs first is the best way ensure your long-term well-being.
Get more sleep
A busy hospital schedule can wreak havoc on your sleep cycles. To every extent possible, try to stick to a fixed schedule that allows your body and mind to fall into a routine. In particular, night shift nurses should be careful to take sleep as seriously as if it was a second job. Invest in a comfortable sleep mask, high-quality blinds, a white-noise machine… anything to give your sleep schedule an edge.
Start an exercise routine
Though nursing can be tiring, it is far from a balanced workout. In fact, since most of the stress in nursing is mental, the exhaustion you feel at the end of a long shift might give you the false sense of having done a difficult workout. Meanwhile, your body and mind aren’t benefiting from the balanced exercise and mental release you desperately need (and that a real workout will give).
Many nurses find that joining a gym or outdoor club gives them the motivation they need – you have to make that initial investment worth it, right? In contrast, many prefer the convenience of simpler routines. Body weight exercises and running, for example, are free and easy to perform at any time or place. Whatever your preferences, make physical activity a priority, as it is a major contributor to your mental well-being.
Stress can be a career killer.
That’s why we made the Nurse Backpack app: To take one more source of stress off your plate. With the app’s help, you’ll never lose track of an important certification again, and you’ll be ready to share your nursing credentials with potential employers at a moment’s notice.