Being a nurse, we are often required to work long shifts. When nurses work extended hours, most of them do not have time to eat properly. This can adversely affect their health and well-being. Some nurses even develop long-term medical conditions, such as heartburn, indigestion, and peptic ulcer disease. Previous studies have shown that jobs with high stress and responsibility and shift work contribute to peptic ulcer disease and metabolic disorders. Eating for good health is one way that nurses can reduce the impact of stressors on the body and promote their health while working the night shift.
Here are four steps to help you maintain healthy eating and improve your nutrition when working a shift schedule.
1. Eat before going to work.
It is important that you have your main meal before going to work. If you are on the afternoon shift, you should have your main meal at mid-day around noon. If you are on the evening shift, eat your main meal at about 6 pm or 7 pm. You should also have a small meal or healthy snacks such as nuts, apple, and crackers during your shift. Try to avoid eating large meals during the night as it can cause heartburn, gas, or constipation.
2. Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.
Bring a bottle of water to work. Water can help you to stay alert and not feel so tired during your shift. Avoid drinking sugary soft drinks and alcohol before, during, and after work. Unsweetened herbal tea and low sodium 100% vegetable and fruit juices are other nutritious beverages that you can drink.
3. Avoid fatty, fried, or spicy foods.
Try not to eat greasy foods or foods with high fat, such as cheeseburgers and fried food, before going to work because these foods may lead to discomfort and indigestion.
4. Limit (or moderate) your caffeine consumption.
Try to limit caffeine intake at least four to five hours before the end of your shift. Since caffeine can stay in your system for many hours, this can affect your sleep when you are ready for bed.
Conflict resolution is an essential skill for every nurse. Conflict in the workplace may be unavoidable, but it can be minimized and resolved. Learning to resolve your conflict effectively and early—in a way that does not increase your stress level—is important.
Nurses can experience different types of conflicts including personal, interpersonal, and interdepartmental conflicts. Any conflict can interfere with workflow and harmony. Conflicts can also decrease productivity and damage self-esteem. However, not all conflicts are bad; occasionally a conflict can be good for change in the workplace.
Here are some tips to improve your conflict resolution skills.
1. Practice active listening and communication skills.
Practice listening to what the other person has to say, without interrupting. Make sure you understand what the other person is telling you. Communication provides an opportunity to share thoughts and problems as well as the reason why they are having conflicts. Face-to-face communication is more effective than other forms because it allows for an active exchange of information. It also allows you to observe important nonverbal cues from the other party. It is important that you use open-ended questions to make sure each side understands what the other person thinks and how he/she feels. This invites people to delve deeper into the problem and find the root cause for the conflict.
2. Stay calm and recognize the conflict.
Being calm and aware of your emotions are vital aspects of conflict resolution. Recognizing the legitimacy of conflicting needs and analyzing them in an environment of compassionate understanding will lead to successful problem solving. Use critical thinking skills to analyze the problem and plan your strategy, including what you want to say, and then write it down and rehearse it. Create a note card, if necessary, with your main talking points.
3. Maintain a positive attitude and practice managing your emotions.
A positive attitude is what you need to solve half of the problem. Emotions play a greater part in most decisions so recognizing and understanding your emotion will help you control your emotional response.
“Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.” — Aristotle
Opioids are a type of narcotic pain medication that is used to control pain. Examples include meperidine, methadone, morphine, oxycodone (OxyContin), oxycodone with acetaminophen (Percocet), and hydrocodone with acetaminophen (Vicodin). There is an increasing number of patients with pain addicted to opioids. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999. Nurses play a vital role in preventing opioid addiction in patients with pain through nursing assessments and monitoring of their patients.
Here are 4 essential steps that nurses can take to help prevent opioid addiction.
1. Perform a comprehensive assessment of pain by using a standardized pain assessment tool.
Nurses need to assess the individual patient’s pain location, characteristics, onset, duration, frequency, intensity or severity, precipitating factors of pain, and how the individual manages his or her pain.To learn more about pain assessment tools, visit www.paincommunitycentre.org/article/pain-assessment-tools.
2. Assess the patient’s pain management and medications used.
Pain medication should be matched to the individual patient’s needs. It is important that nurses assess the patient’s detailed medical history, including a list of currently prescribed and past medications, as well as a history of substance use or substance use disorders in the patient and the patient’s family. Keep monitoring patient use of medications and opioids to avoid overdependence or potential addiction.
3. Evaluate the effectiveness of the pain management through ongoing assessment of the individual patient’s pain experience.
Proper evaluation of pain management requires that all patients have a treatment entry diagnosis that is defined, standard, and objectively determined. An ongoing assessment of the patient’s pain experience during and after treatment is vital for preventing pain medication misuse. Patients can become addicted if they take pain medications or opioids too much or for a long period of time.
4. Educate your patients about pain management.
A better patient understanding of the nature of pain, its treatment, and the side effects and complications is one of the most important steps toward improved control of pain and pain medication use. Nurses should provide written instructions about dosage, adverse effects, how long the medication should be taken, and how to store and dispose of unused medication. Opioids can be dangerous if patients take them with alcohol, or with certain drugs such as antihistamines, sleeping pills, and some antidepressants. Nurses can also introduce the use of non-pharmacological techniques (e.g., relaxation, guided imagery, music therapy, distraction, massage, lifestyle modifications, and heat and cold application) before, during, and after feeling pain to control and reduce pain.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shift work and a lack of sleep due to long shifts can cause a serious health burden. Shift work sleep disorders (SWSD) contribute to the development or exacerbation of various co-morbid conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, GI disorders, and depression. It can affect your work performance and quality of life.
Nurses are particularly at risk for SWSD, which can cause physiological and psychological distress and lead to errors in their work. Thus, it is important that nurses are aware of this risk and focus on their sleep hygiene. Here are 7 tips to prevent SWSD and promote your sleep hygiene.
1. Avoid consecutive shifts longer than 12 hours and avoid working an extensive amount of overtime.
After night shifts, it is recommended that you have at least 48 hours off so that your body can recover. When you have a day or two off from work, it is good idea to catch up on rest.
2. Establish a regular sleep schedule.
This will reinforce your body’s sleep-wake cycle.
3. Create a sleep-inviting environment for restorative sleep.
Keep your room a cool temperature (between 60-67 degrees), which can help aid the process of cooling your body. Keeping your bedroom dark and quiet can help promote your sleepiness.
4. Avoid large meals, spicy foods, alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, and other substances that interfere with sleep at least 4 hours before bedtime.
Also try to limit the amount of caffeine you drink during the day.
5. Reduce screen time.
Light, noise, and content from televisions, smartphones, and tablets are stimulating and can cause difficulty falling asleep.
6. Avoid exercise before bedtime.
Exercising before bedtime can cause difficulty falling asleep.
7. Avoid stressful and stimulating activities, such as doing work or discussing emotional or serious issues, before bedtime.
Physically and psychologically stressful activities can cause the body to secrete the stress hormone, cortisol, which is associated with increasing alertness. Reducing stress and unwinding from the day can help you fall asleep faster and achieve a better quality of sleep.
There have been increasing claims of nurses being sexually harassed. Some male nurses have reported being harassed; however, more than 50% are female nurses. The harasser may be male or female, and the victim may be of the opposite sex or the same sex as the harasser. Sexual harassment is not acceptable and unlawful. It can affect a person’s emotional and mental health, as well as lead to significant stress and anxiety.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) states that “harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.” Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome behavior of sexual advances, a request for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment (EEOC).
Types of sexual harassment include:
- Telling lewd jokes, or sharing sexual anecdotes;
- Making inappropriate sexual gestures;
- Staring in a sexually suggestive or offensive manner, or whistling;
- Asking sexual questions, such as questions about someone’s sexual history or their sexual orientation;
- Making sexual comments about appearance, clothing, or body parts;
- Making offensive comments about someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity;
- Inappropriate touching, including pinching, patting, rubbing, or purposefully brushing up against another person.
Whatever form the sexual harassment may take, it is important that it is recognized, and that prompt action is taken against the harasser. Preventing sexual harassment and taking proactive steps to deal with harassment that does occur is especially critical.
Here are eight steps to protect yourself from being sexually harassed:
- Be informed about the definition of sexual harassment.
- Be knowledgeable about institutional policies regarding sexual harassment.
- Take an active role in fostering a work environment free from sexual harassment.
- Attend sexual harassment prevention courses or training.
- Report the harassment to your supervisor immediately, or to a higher authority if your supervisor is the harasser. Consult with your human resources office and government agency if necessary. Never be afraid to report a comment, action, or gesture by somebody that made you feel uncomfortable.
- If possible, speak with the individual directly and inform him or her that you feel the behavior is inappropriate.
- Seek support from family members, friends, colleagues, or your state nurses’ association.
- Document the harassment in writing as soon as possible.