Wellness Off the Clock: How Nurses Can Stay Active and Eat Right

Wellness Off the Clock: How Nurses Can Stay Active and Eat Right

As a nurse, you provide an incredible service for your patients. However, while caring for others, it’s too easy to forget to care for yourself. If you’re in that situation, it’s time to make a change. You may be more susceptible to health issues than others, so you must prioritize your wellness, which you can do during your off-time and at work. Here is some advice for why your health is so important and how to stay active and eat right during your busy life.wellness-off-the-clock-how-minority-nurses-can-stay-active-and-eat-right

Why Wellness And Nursing Must Go Hand-In-Hand

Although most nurses spend a lot of time moving from place to place, it’s still a sad fact that obesity is more common in the nursing field than many may think. The reasons are numerous. 

While nursing is rewarding, it can also be stressful, as you have to ensure that your job is performed correctly, or the patients may have complications. Nursing burnout is a very real thing. Working in stressful environments can cause chronic stress, which can disrupt your hormonal cycle and lead to overeating. Nursing also requires long hours, which can reduce the chances of getting enough sleep at night, and a lack of sleep can affect your metabolism. 

The obesity epidemic is often more dangerous for African Americans. Studies show that African American women have the highest rates of obesity when compared to other groups in the U.S. That’s bad because people who are overweight are also more likely to suffer from different physical ailments, including high blood pressure and potential blood clots. 

There’s also an anxiety component to consider. Worrying that you’re doing what’s right one hundred percent of the time can be very stressful, and an unhealthy diet can compound those issues. Staying healthy, exercising, and being kind and helpful to others can help you stay level and mentally stable during a high-pressure job.

Exercise When You Can

When you have a busy schedule, you need to fit in some form of exercise whenever possible. Luckily, there are ways to squeeze in fitness throughout the day, starting in the morning. If you’re crunched for time and cannot go to the gym, but you have a garage at home, try doing a short workout there. 

You can maximize your garage workouts by doing quick exercises that require little to no equipment. Various programs include 15-minute core workouts, push-up variations and routines, and many beginner exercises that use no equipment. Another idea is to invest in a recumbent or upright stationary bike and put it in the garage. Then, you can work out while reviewing work and job reports to prepare for the day.

Making small adjustments in your routine when you’re at work and at home can help you perform many exercises, including ways to get more cardio. Park further away in the parking lot, take the stairs instead of the elevator, do calf raises, and stand instead of sitting whenever possible, and you’ll likely notice great results over time.

There are also opportunities to exercise if you work the night shift. Like in the day, you can count your steps and walk more during your shift or practice push-ups or sit-ups during lunch. It can be hard to stick to your workout regime when you’re alone, so get your other nurses involved by having a group workout or yoga routine at some point during the night after the patient’s needs are met. You’ll be more likely to follow your exercise regime if you do it with others.

Nutrition Is Key

As a nurse constantly on the go, stopping for a healthy meal is likely challenging. Instead, you may be tempted to get a quick treat from the vending machine or fast food so you can eat and go. However, while food like that may temporarily fill you, many of those items include trans fats, which can make you feel sluggish and are also bad for your overall physical health..

What you need is a plan. You must have your fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, fish, and berries whenever possible. In addition to being the building blocks of a healthy body, many of these food groups can also give you energy to help you stay alert and active when you get to work. 

Most people need a proper routine to fit this food into their lives, so start one. Think about what you want to eat, then go to the grocery store and pack your lunch for work each day—that way, you know that you have healthy food that you can turn to throughout your shift. That way, you know that you have healthy food that you can turn to throughout your shift. It would help if you also packed your lunch with healthy snacks that you can fit in your pocket. A bag of almonds will be tasty while giving you a boost of energy. Granola bars and roasted chickpeas will do the same.

As you likely tell your patients, it’s also vital that you drink enough water throughout the day. At least 8-12 cups. Bring a reusable water bottle with you or keep it at the nurse’s station so you can be reminded to drink, stay healthy, and avoid dehydration. 

Conclusion

As a minority nurse trying to make a difference in your patient’s lives, you must take care of yourself in your off-time to stay strong throughout the day. Finding ways to stay active and eat right will make a big difference.

Integrating Holistic Approaches in Minority Nursing Practices

Integrating Holistic Approaches in Minority Nursing Practices

According to the AACA, in 2022, 80% of nurses in the United States were white/caucasian. With nurse burnout already a problem nationwide, being a minority in the industry can create even more unique challenges. That includes things like racism from patients or co-workers, discrimination, and even economic hurdles depending on your background and where you grew up.integrating-holistic-approaches-in-minority-nursing-practices

All nurses must care for themselves and infuse wellness into their daily work. However, it might be even more essential for minority nurses to integrate holistic approaches into their careers.

With that in mind, let’s explore the importance of a holistic approach in healthcare and provide actionable insights you can use to enhance patient well-being and improve overall nursing effectiveness.

What Is Holistic Nursing? 

As a nurse, you may be tempted to scroll past the ideas of holistic healthcare practices. But, holistic practices have been used for centuries to help people look inward for physical and mental wellness. Holistic nursing combines Western medicinal practices alongside complementary and alternative care solutions. Holistic nurses go beyond the physical and physiological aspects of medicine and focus on the values and beliefs of their patients. Nurses who practice holistic care also hold themselves to an extremely high standard and lean into five core values of practice:

  • Holistic philosophy and education;
  • Holistic ethics, theories, and research;
  • Holistic self-care;
  • Holistic communication;
  • Holistic caring process.

Paying attention to a person’s entire being can make a big difference in how they feel, especially when in a compromising medical situation. It’s one reason more midwives are taking holistic approaches to pregnant women. A holistic nursing approach can also help to improve your entire department, especially if you’ve been struggling with issues as a minority nurse. When holistic practices are implemented, people will start to look at you as a whole person and value your well-being rather than focusing solely on race identity.

Planning Healthy Holistic Practices

If you want to integrate more holistic practices into your career, it starts by leading a more holistic lifestyle yourself. Changing lifestyle habits and career practices, as well as even influencing your department, can feel overwhelming at first. One of the best ways to start taking a holistic approach to your work and life is to set goals for yourself. SMART goals can keep you motivated and help you recognize when you’ve hit milestones and achievements. SMART goals are:

  • Specific;
  • Measurable;
  • Attainable;
  • Relevant;
  • Time-Bound.

For example, if you want to focus on specifics, ask yourself what you want to achieve with holistic practices. Why is it essential to make a change, and who will you involve?

You’ll be able to measure your goals through achievements. Maybe you’ll start to feel better, personally. Perhaps you’ll see a change in work culture or the challenges you typically face as a minority. You might even begin to see your patients differently, which can help you fight back against burnout and find more joy in your daily interactions.

As you set goals and develop a strategy for holistic approaches, keep in mind that holistic medicine doesn’t have to somehow diminish your medical knowledge. Rather, it should serve as a complementary approach beyond basic treatment. A holistic approach to healthcare can inspire you to integrate more holistic practices into your daily routine on and off the clock.

Holistic Practices That Can Make a Difference

When you look within to begin your holistic integration, it starts with self-care. Again, this is essential for all nurses. But, when you face some of the unique challenges of being a minority nurse, self-care becomes even more necessary to maintain your mental and physical well-being. Thankfully, these practices don’t require much extra time or effort. Integrate some of the following into your everyday routine:

  • Prioritizing sleep;
  • Eating a healthy diet;
  • Journaling;
  • Connecting with colleagues;
  • Deep breathing;
  • Showing self-compassion.

Daily affirmations can also make a difference, especially when you’re heading into a long shift or dealing with difficult co-workers. Say things like, “I choose to trust my skills and abilities,” or “I know I am a skilled and compassionate nurse.” It might take some time to get comfortable with affirmations, but they will go a long way in improving your overall mindset. When you are kind and compassionate with yourself, you’re more likely to pass on that care to your patients.

Practicing mindfulness is another excellent way to lead a more holistic life and career. Mindfulness can help you manage stress and anxiety and keep you focused on the present. You’ll be less tempted to think about something a patient or co-worker might have said that bothered you or worry about the “what ifs” of your next shift.

There is no question that being a minority nurse comes with a few obstacles. However, by integrating holistic approaches in your life and career, you can reduce personal stress, improve patient care, and change the course of your department and practice.

The Intersection of Minority Identity and Palliative Care Nursing 

The Intersection of Minority Identity and Palliative Care Nursing 

Palliative care can be equally rewarding and challenging. Patients are navigating the emotional and physical turbulence of terminal illness. The right professional can be instrumental in ensuring patients’ needs are met to make their period of care more comfortable.

So much of who people are impacts their experience of the palliative journey. This includes the nuances of their cultural, racial, and socioeconomic identities. It should be no question, then, that minority nurses are an invaluable resource at this time. Yet, the current state of palliative care suggests that the industry doesn’t quite reflect this.

Let’s explore the intersection of minority identity and palliative care nursing. What are the opportunities for minority nurses, and why are they so vital in addressing the challenges related to this sector?

The Opportunities for Minority Nurses 

There’s no question that the medical sector, in general, is in greater need of nurses from various backgrounds. However, it’s also essential to look at the disparities within specializations. The needs of patients taking their palliative care journey suggest that minority nurses can find plenty of opportunities in this field.

The changing demographics of the aging population reflect this. It’s worth noting that there is relatively little research into the racial and ethnic disparities in palliative care staff. Nevertheless, there is some evidence that suggests a need for change. A Journal of Palliative Medicine study reported that over the next 20 years, the population of older minorities is expected to grow by 160%. This is far more than their white counterparts. The same study also cited a bereaved families survey that found “African Americans were less satisfied with the quality of end-of-life care.”

This data tells us there are opportunities for minority nurses to contribute to the specific needs that aren’t being met for the growing population of minority patients who will be seeking palliative care in the future.

Alongside the general need for hospice nurses and palliative care nurses, these opportunities may include:

  • Palliative nurse practitioners (NPs): Given the disparities in minority palliative care, there must be greater diversity in care leadership roles. Minority NPs can influence strategic decisions that ensure care plans are more relevant and positive for a broader range of patients.
  • Palliative educators: Palliative care is an emotionally and technically challenging field. Therefore, it requires skilled educators to guide professionals in developing appropriate medical, cultural, and empathic abilities. Nurses from minority backgrounds have invaluable perspectives to provide here.

Certainly, minority nurses themselves can seek the opportunities and talk to one another about them. However, it’s also important to encourage administrators and industry leaders to engage a diverse range of professionals more actively. This should involve pitching palliative care to minority students and nurses looking to shift careers. There must also be more significant financial and psychological support that makes palliative care a practical and attractive option.

Addressing the Challenges 

There are clear opportunities for minority nurses in palliative care. But on a practical level, it’s important to establish what specific challenges these professionals are well-equipped to address. Firstly, this helps nurses better serve patients. But it’s also valuable information that care providers and administrators can use to pitch palliative care to minority nurses who may not have considered specializing in it.

Culturally Relevant Care 

Palliative care deals with the end of life. Naturally, various cultural nuances influence this experience. One recent report outlined a significant variety of cultural differences related to the just treatment of pain during palliative care. People’s ethnicities, religious beliefs, and even generational demographics can influence how pain at the end of life is both perceived and managed.

This means that minority nurses can be better equipped to offer culturally relevant care to patients with similar backgrounds. In effect, these culturally competent nurses are likely to impact patient experiences and outcomes positively.

Actionable Community Knowledge 

Palliative care doesn’t always occur within hospice facilities. Nurses can also treat patients in their own homes. Patients from different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds can face challenges related to the areas in which they live. Minority nurses can use community knowledge to identify issues and integrate solutions into care processes.

For instance, patients living in heavily industrialized communities may be subjected to poorer air quality. One study found that Black and Hispanic citizens bear 56% and 63% more air pollution, respectively, than they produce. Nurses with greater familiarity with these communities may better understand the signs of air pollution in the home. These may be environmental changes, like unpleasant odors, or additional medical symptoms, such as coughing and congestion. As a result, minority nurses can respond swiftly with preventions and treatments that improve palliative patients’ comfort.

Knowledge of the Practical Barriers 

Let’s face it: Nobody better understands the barriers presented by cultural disparities than those subjected to them. Therefore, minority nurses can be powerful allies in improving the palliative care protocols that give hurdles to both patients and professionals.

A continuous commitment to process improvement is vital in any industry. Regularly assessing protocols reveals inefficiencies, issues with regulatory compliance, and tasks ripe for streamlining. It’s important to involve a greater diversity of nurses in mapping out and analyzing care processes. A team with a broader range of perspectives is more conducive to spotting barriers to good care that a more culturally limited one would miss. This enables a positive collaboration for redesigning processes to meet all patients’ needs.

Conclusion 

Palliative care is one of the most challenging medical specializations. It deals with a particularly turbulent time for patients and their families and all the more reason, then, to ensure that culturally, racially, and socioeconomically diverse professionals are leading the way.

Nevertheless, addressing the growing disparities in care for those of minority identity needs immediate action. This is likely to require meaningful collaboration. Minority nurses can actively pursue palliative care and advocate for the systemic changes that make a genuine difference. However, administrators and industry leaders have a role in ensuring sufficient respect, support, and resources to make this a viable and enriching option for nurses.

The Role of Nurses in Countering Environmental Racism

The Role of Nurses in Countering Environmental Racism

Nurses are integral to every community, and not just from the perspective of simply providing critical medical services. Your field experiences have likely made it clear to you that you impact patients’ lives through your empathy, social sensitivity, and hard-earned knowledge.

One of the often overlooked areas in which nurses are influential is helping to address injustice, even environmental racism. Given how urgent and potentially destructive the climate crisis is, it’s important to understand better this issue and how nurses can help counter it.

The Consequences of Climate Change

Environmental racism occurs when Black and other traditionally marginalized communities are disproportionately affected by climate change, pollution, and other environmental issues. This counters the traditional concept of environmentalism, which states that everyone is affected by ecological disasters. However, more evidence indicates that marginalized communities get the brunt of these disasters due to systemic injustices, which may affect the public health of these communities.

For instance, fossil fuel companies primarily tend to set up shops near minority communities, with 68% of African Americans living within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant. Emissions from these plants can result in community exposure to respiratory and other health issues.

However, such wellness challenges are not limited to the better-known respiratory and cardiovascular risks. The climate can impact vision and eye health, too. People living in neighborhoods exposed to pollution can be more likely to experience glaucoma. Indoor pollution is also an issue, with those who may be unable to invest in adequate filtration systems at risk of experiencing long-term eye damage due to exposure to small particulate matter.

Even with these exacerbated health issues, marginalized communities may not receive proper treatment. One recent Pew Research study reported that 63% of Black Americans polled believe that their diminished access to quality medical is one of the reasons behind poorer health outcomes. Even if specific communities have access to medical care, the plethora of climate change-related health concerns places a greater demand on the healthcare system already underserving these communities.

Community Education and Outreach

The consequences of climate change concerning environmental racism are concerning. Indeed, such systemic issues can feel so large that it’s often difficult to see what individuals can do to help. Yet, as a nurse, you can powerfully impact the communities you serve.

One of the most important forms of assistance you can provide is improvements in relevant health literacy for minority communities. Once community members know the impacts of climate change on their health, they can be more empowered to make informed decisions surrounding their care and day-to-day preventative measures. Therefore, it’s essential to ensure patients have data about local negative environmental influences, the potential impacts, and steps they can take to safeguard their health.

This may involve working with local public health services to find the right literature addressing your community’s concerns. You might also consider engaging with community outreach programs. Spending time at community centers, workplaces, schools, and universities can be helpful to forums for education, where you can answer questions concerning this issue.

Collaboration on Change

Unfortunately, health literacy is unlikely sufficient to counter environmental racism alone. As with so many forms of social injustice, meaningful change happens at a systemic level. Your perspectives and insights as a nurse in minority communities can be a powerful contribution if you collaborate with initiatives that reduce ecological inequality.

This may be most effective on a regional level. You can identify local organizations that are dedicated to taking action to address environmental justice. These actions may involve coordinating efforts to provide qualitative data and testimony as supporting evidence of climate-related illness to present to governmental agencies tasked with assigning public health budgets, planning facilities, and creating healthcare policies.

Alternatively, you can offer insights as a medical professional to organizations dedicated to blocking the local introduction of new hazardous industrial businesses. Grassroots organizations like the Mothers of East L.A. have proven successful here. Your assistance can be invaluable as efficacy tends to rely on research and expert testimony.

This isn’t just effective concerning budget assignment and healthcare policy but also in encouraging the adoption of other resources that directly and indirectly affect the environmental connection to health.

For instance, the rise of the digital age has seen the emergence of inventions that can help combat climate change. If local or state governments adopt ambient carbon capture technology to remove carbon dioxide from the air or invest in distributed energy resources (DERs), there’s a chance to mitigate the health issues that disproportionately impact minority communities. As a nurse, you could play an influential role in representing the medical importance of these tools to local government decision-makers. Advocate for how climate-protecting technology makes a difference in community health and could reduce pressure on care resources.

Conclusion

Nurses may not always think about environmental racism in their daily routines, but it’s a hidden undercurrent in the healthcare system. Nurses have a profound potential to stop this injustice before it worsens.

It’s essential to be mindful of taking everything on your shoulders. Nurses already face a lot of pressure and often unrealistic expectations. When engaging in this social issue, seek support from colleagues, administrators, and community leaders.

Nurses Supporting Nurses: 3 Ways to Address the Healthcare Shortage

Nurses Supporting Nurses: 3 Ways to Address the Healthcare Shortage

Nurses face various challenges in their day-to-day activities, and one of the most prominent currently is the ongoing healthcare staff shortage. The shortage creates greater stress for nurses but can also affect patient outcomes, workplace safety, and meaningful career growth.

Administrators and industry leaders must commit to meaningful systemic changes to address the issue. However, nurses’ commitment to helping one another throughout this crisis is also essential. By offering support, guidance, and insights in key areas, nurses can empower one another to thrive throughout these challenges.

Communicate About the Causes

It is likely to be clear to all nurses that there are significant staff shortages in the healthcare industry across a range of roles. There are various reasons, including aging populations living longer, which has increased the demand for services. Many professionals are aging out of the industry. Toxic workplace cultures – resulting from stress, insufficient pay, and patient abuse – can also contribute to a lack of new nurses.

Nurses must understand these causes and what is causing specific staffing shortages in their area. With a clear idea of the root problem, it can be easier to have clarity on how to find solutions.

Perhaps most importantly, nurses should communicate with each other about staffing problems. Nurses representing traditionally marginalized demographics or interacting with minority communities can also highlight specific challenges. The better insights everyone can gain about the shortage causes, the more empowered everyone can be when navigating them.

Promote Self-Care

A recent National Council of State Boards of Nursing survey found that 45.1% of nurses reported feeling burned out, contributing to many professionals leaving the industry. While burnout isn’t a diagnosable illness, it does have physical and psychological symptoms that can have long-term negative impacts. Relentless workplace stress and toxic working environments can lead to sleep loss, weight fluctuations, anxiety, and suicidal behavior. It’s no wonder nurses are leaving the profession rather than risk continued burnout.

Certainly, some of the root causes of burnout are related to systemic issues that administrators must address. However, from the perspective of nurses supporting nurses, one of the key contributions professionals can make is encouraging one another to prioritize self-care.

Prioritizing self-care is challenging, particularly given how busy working life as a nurse can be. This only emphasizes the importance of keeping colleagues accountable for taking care of themselves. Nurses must encourage one another to take breaks, eat healthy meals, and engage in hobbies. Committing to looking out for signs of exhaustion and stress in one another can open up conversations leading to effective resources.

Another key form of self-care as a nurse is advocating against inequalities and toxic environments contributing to burnout. Particularly among nurses from marginalized populations, the cumulative effect of microaggressions can be disruptive. One study found that 80% of nurses have witnessed workplace or nursing school discrimination. It is important to talk to one another about the presence of these elements and present a united front in highlighting the problem to administrators and demanding change in the workplace.

Influence Inclusive Recruitment

There are certainly recruitment issues that contribute to the healthcare shortage. It’s important to recognize that one of the most positive ways nurses can help one another address this is to be meaningfully involved in influencing recruitment. After all, no one has better insights into the challenges, benefits, and needs of the nursing industry than those who are a part of it. Importantly, nurses from minority backgrounds can ensure recruitment approaches are more accessible and welcoming to a wider proportion of the population. This can help bridge the labor gap and bring much-needed diverse cultural perspectives into the industry.

It can be helpful to encourage administrators to engage in meaningful community outreach. This may involve arranging formal opportunities for experienced nurses from various backgrounds to visit schools or community organizations. They can then discuss the options and provide practical advice on pursuing the path.

During outreach, it’s vital to share nurses’ experiences that have made later life career switches to the industry or pursued educational courses despite tough socioeconomic conditions. Nurses can also act as much-needed mentors among still under-represented minority communities. One recent study found that only 19.4% of registered nurses are from minority backgrounds. These outreach efforts give community members a sense that people with similar challenges can thrive in the industry, which may prompt engagement.

It can also be wise for nurses to have frank discussions with human resources (HR) personnel about facilities’ current recruitment processes. It’s common for systemic biases to result in recruiters overlooking ways to reach more diverse candidates. There can also be cultural hurdles that HR staff must be aware of. Providing these insights and suggesting solutions can help more potential nurses enter the sector.

Conclusion

Nurses committing to supporting one another through the healthcare staff shortage is essential. Communicating with one another about the causes of the shortages can aid well-informed approaches to addressing the issues. Promoting mutual self-care – including advocating against toxic workplaces – can help mitigate the potential for burnout. Engaging in more inclusive community recruitment can also positively impact greater nursing numbers and more diverse professionals in the field.

Though nurses’ contributions can be invaluable, it’s also important to take only part of the responsibility for meaningful change on their shoulders. Nurses are already overworked and face significant career stress. Recognizing personal limitations, setting strong boundaries, and seeking solid resources are essential for navigating this difficult time.

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