A nurse is the backbone of the medical field – they play a key role in ensuring that patients get the care they need. But who takes care of nurses?! They need look after themselves!
Luckily, there are many ways a nurse can maintain a healthy lifestyle. Taking time to really consider one’s health is essential in an environment where professionalism and expertise are crucial.
By the very nature of nursing, nurses are very busy people and may have little time to themselves; they might be too preoccupied with everyone else’s affairs, to concentrate on their own needs.
However, it’s vital for nurses to take stock of their well-being – there are many routes to remaining healthy.
Healthy Minds Really Matter
Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change through repeated experience.
Studies have shown that we learn and process information, in the hippocampus, which is the area of the brain responsible for forming memories.
The hippocampus forms a new memory by creating a linking pathway between old memories and new experiences. This process is known as neuroplasticity and without it, we would not be able to learn or remember anything.
Neuroplasticity allows us to adapt quickly to our environment and gives us an advantage over other species that do not have this ability.
Nurses interact with patients every day; good mental health is vital for this process.
Physical Activity Is Key to Keeping Healthy
Nurses, especially nurses in leadership positions, spend a lot of time doing work that is not only physically demanding but emotionally and mentally challenging as well.
They should ensure that they are as physically fit as possible, in order to keep up with the demands of the job. A healthy body is often linked to a healthy mind.
You might be tempted to avoid exercise, but it can be as simple as stretching, climbing stairs, or taking a stroll. Health becomes compromised if you remain sedentary for too long.
What is Unique About Healthcare Leadership?
To succeed as a leader, a caregiver must learn when to step back and leave the work for others, especially those who have been in the position longer than you have.
That’s an important part of being a leader: learning when to let go. You must delegate and allow others in your team to take charge so you can get round to tackling all the things that need you attention.
Managing a team is one thing – managing your well-being is quite another. Those in charge must find the time to create a better work-life balance for themselves, taking time off when needed, and being mindful of their health and fitness.
Nursing leadership can be very rewarding and as equally demanding. There is a constant demand on nurses in the form of patient care, that could not be expected from any other profession.
What is Self-Care and Why is It Important?
A personal, professional, and universal notion – self-care is not a new concept.
Many health care providers understand their need to be in prime physical and mental condition so they can perform at the highest level of competency to effectively treat their patients.
Self-care means being attentive to one’s own needs, which can lead to improved quality of life as well as enhanced productivity in other areas of life.
There is much debate when it comes to what self-care means for professionals such as nurses, who are often faced with many different demands and have little opportunity to put their best interests first.
Nurse Self-Care Ideas You Can Implement Right Now
Whether you’re a veteran in the nursing profession, or you’re a student nurse just starting your career, make sure you have a good grasp on what it means to really look after your physical and mental health.
Here are a few ideas you can try; more can be found in this expert article on self-care for nurses.
Get Enough Rest
We all know that sleep is essential to good health and to the functioning of our brains. But it’s all too easy to overdo it and disregard our bodies’ need for proper rest and repair.
Being over-tired and feeling stressed, can lead to burn out. If you’re affected, take regular breaks and try going to bed earlier than usual, allowing yourself to sleep for as long as you need to.
Eat Healthy Food and Drink Enough Water
Food, as we all know, plays a major role in our mental and physical health.
It’s important that we feed ourselves with healthy foods: those rich in vitamins and minerals, which help us to function better, perform at our best levels and feel in tip-top condition.
Stay Connected with Family
Nursing is a tough job; long hours and stressful situations can take a toll on your mental wellbeing.
By staying in touch with family, you can help to balance out the stress you take on at work. Knowing there are people in your life who love and support you, can give you great peace of mind.
Reach Out to Friends
When times are tough, it’s really helpful to have friends to turn to – those you can confide in through thick and thin. That old adage, ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’, could not be truer.
Don’t ever suffer in silence – reach out to friends who can offer you support and guidance.
Keep Your Mind and Body Healthy
So many people focus on what they can’t eat or what they can’t do. This is not the best approach, because it does nothing to improve your health and fitness and doesn’t help you become the best you that you can be.
It may seem like a mountain to climb, but increasing your fitness levels, is easier than you might think! Little steps, go a long way…
Try heading outside for a walk every day.
We all need to get out of our houses sometimes to clear our heads, and walking is a great way to promote health – a gentle exercise that boosts circulation and calms the mind.
The Importance of Sleep to Maintain Health
Sleep is an essential component of a healthy mind and body, with an important role to play in memory consolidation. Nurses certainly have enough on their plate without also having to worry about how they’re going to get a good night’s sleep.
It’s not uncommon for nurses – especially new graduates – to experience high levels of stress and fatigue at work. The unforgiving schedule and pressures of nursing can leave you feeling run down.
Sleep deprivation is one of the most common causes of errors made in healthcare, whether made by trainees or old timers.
How To Deal with Stress at Work
When you’re new to nursing, it’s only natural to feel a little overwhelmed. Think about all the new information you have to process and the skills that you have to learn.
Your brain is working overtime! Your body’s tense, too.
In which case, be sure to make time for yourself to do something that makes you feel relaxed: meditation, yoga, or even a short nap, can help your body and mind to slow down, for just a few minutes each day.
Don’t be Overwhelmed
When it comes to self-care and looking after yourself, one of the best things you can do is pay attention to your mental health.
How are you feeling? Are you depressed? Nervous or stressed?
These emotions can build up and be detrimental when you’re trying to get work done, but they don’t have to dominate you: take a deep breath, smile, and remember that life isn’t perfect.
It’s okay if you feel a little down at times! Just try to remember, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel!
Keep Track of Your Mind and Body
Nurses are often faced with a great deal of stress at their place of work, which can lead to mental health problems. The first step to dealing with this type of anxiety is to identify when you need a break from work.
You should be in the habit of doing regular check-ups on your health. This includes your mental and physical well-being, as well as your fitness levels.
Your body consists of over a hundred trillion cells that require constant maintenance.
Keep an eye on how you’re doing, run through when you last ate, and try to track any changes in your physique. You know your body best, so pay attention to how it’s doing and make sure you’re taking good care of it.
Health care providers are constantly faced with the need to pay attention to their own health, in order to best serve the needs of their patients.
Ultimately, a healthy mind and body, promotes the best outcome for the care provider and patient.
Understanding the importance of self-care and self-discipline, is important at all stages in one’s career as a nurse, because maintaining good health, helps to enhance happiness and fulfillment on a personal and professional level.