Working long hours, being on your feet for stretched-out periods, and lifting, transferring, or supporting patients, can be physically demanding. Staying physically fit through regular exercise build strength, endurance, and resilience to meet the physical demands of your profession.
Besides combating physical challenges, high-stress levels (inevitable in nursing) and exposure to emotionally challenging situations are mentally taxing. Burnout, a state of chronic physical and emotional exhaustion, can be a significant risk for nurses.
Taking care of your health help manage stress, reduce the risk of burnout, and develop chronic health conditions. Several ways for nurses to prioritize their well-being and stay healthier are:
- Excel in higher education
Healthcare practices, technologies, and policies are constantly evolving. Nurses must stay updated with the latest evidence-based practices to provide safe, benign, and effective patient care. The ability to provide secure and up-to-date patient care results in positive patient outcomes and makes you confident about your abilities.
Higher education is a surefire way for nurses to stay updated. Higher education equips you with advanced knowledge and skills to remain competitive and adapt to the shifting healthcare environment. Besides, better professional education predisposes you to manage higher responsibilities and make an impact in the workplace.
Apart from patient care-related positive outcomes, higher education brings health benefits too. Highly educated people tend to be happier and healthier. Educated people earn higher and enjoy a better quality of life.
Higher educational attainment also leads to decreased mortality rate. Understandably, better professional competencies received through higher education bring you more career opportunities and reduce occupational stress.
As a nurse, if you want to perform a meaningful role in your organization, you must aim for a master’s in nursing. Both online and offline degree options are available. To be eligible for an online MSN degree, you must have a bachelor-level qualification or possess an RN license for an RN to MSN degree. The latter is a fast-paced program that bypasses the BSN requirements.
- Consume healthy food
Maintaining a balanced diet is crucial for nurses to sustain energy levels, support optimal physical function, and promote mental clarity.
Furthermore, proper nutrition also maintains cognitive function and mental well-being. The brain needs essential nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and B vitamins, to function optimally. A diet rich in these nutrients promotes mental clarity, focus, and cognitive function. This is essential for critical thinking, decision-making, and effective communication—all crucial skills for nurses, helping them perform their duties competently.
Some essential steps nurses can take for better health are:
- Make healthy fats such as avocados and olive oil, necessary for brain function, heart health, and overall well-being, a part of your diet
- Limit the intake of processed foods, sugary beverages, and excessive salt. Such foods contribute to weight gain, inflammation, and chronic health issues.
- Be mindful of portion sizes and listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues.
- Choose foods with minimal added sugars, sodium, and unhealthy fats.
- Opt for homemade meals whenever possible and experiment with new recipes to engage your taste buds.
- Add “superfoods” such as berries, spinach, salmon, quinoa, and Greek yogurt. Adding these nutrient-dense foods to your diet gives your body an extra boost of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
- Strive to achieve work-life stability
Over the years, ample research has corroborated the importance of work-life balance in relieving stress and dispensing good service.
Finding the equilibrium between work and personal life prevents burnout, maintains well-being, and sustains performance at work.
Instituting clear boundaries between work and personal time is essential for achieving work-life balance. Plus, communicating these boundaries with colleagues and supervisors and assertively protecting personal time is necessary.
Effective time management and organization skills help you better manage your workload and personal responsibilities.
Creating a schedule or a to-do list, prioritizing tasks, and delegating when possible aid you in staying organized and reducing stress.
Taking regular breaks throughout the workday helps avoid burnout and maintain productivity. Nurses should take their meal and rest breaks. They must use their vacation or paid time off (PTO) to rest and revitalize. Taking breaks helps you recharge, reduce stress, and return to work with renewed oomph and focus.
- Seek support
Nurses need to seek support when needed. This includes talking to colleagues, friends, or family members about challenges or concerns. It also involves seeking professional counseling or therapy or utilizing employee assistance programs offered by their workplace.
Support systems provide emotional sustenance and practical advice and help you manage stress and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Peer support offers a sense of camaraderie, shared learning, and mutual encouragement. These feelings boost morale and help nurses feel supported in their professional journey.
- Laugh with friends
Laughter is contagious and has numerous health benefits, including reducing stress, improving mood, and strengthening social bonds. It helps you gain perspective, shift your focus away from work-related stressors, and provide a much-needed break from work-related responsibilities.
Having meaningful connections and enjoyable experiences with friends positively impacts job satisfaction. Nurses with a robust support system and engaging in social activities outside of work are more likely to feel fulfilled and satisfied with their job.
Job satisfaction is crucial for nurse retention, overall job performance, and quality of life. It contributes to a positive work environment and fosters a sense of purpose and fulfillment in their nursing career. It also decreases stress and makes you happy with what you do.
- Own a pet
Owning a pet brings immense joy and contributes to a happier and healthier lifestyle. Whether furry, feathery, or scaly, pets provide companionship, unconditional love, and numerous health benefits.
Keeping a pet positively impact your well-being in the following ways.
Interacting with pets has been shown to lower stress levels and reduce the production of stress hormones like cortisol. Pets offer comfort, companionship, and a source of unconditional love, which helps you relax and unwind after a long day.
Pets, especially dogs, require regular exercise, encouraging their owners to be more physically active. Daily walks or playtime with your pet help you stay active, maintain a healthy weight, and improve cardiovascular health.
Pets be great icebreakers and help facilitate social interactions. Whether taking your dog for a walk or visiting a dog park, you’ll likely meet other pet owners. These occasional meet-ups will help you foster connections with like-minded individuals who share a love for animals.
As healthcare professionals, nurses are critical in providing compassionate care to patients. To excel in your demanding and physically strenuous roles, you must prioritize your health and fitness. Some ways you can care for your health and well-being and live longer are mentioned above.
Remember, it’s important to approach these lifestyle changes with commitment and consistency to reap the full benefits. Incorporating these changes into your daily routine may take time and effort. Still, the long-term impact on your health and happiness is worth it.