5 Ways to Enjoy the Outdoors This Winter

5 Ways to Enjoy the Outdoors This Winter

A typical winter’s colder temperatures and messy weather makes getting outside more challenging for many people. This year, with so many people spending more time inside and isolated from others, winter could spike loneliness and poorer health.

Spending time outside in the winter has lots of health benefits. It is often invigorating being in the fresh air and moving around can help combat the unhealthy habits of being too sedentary.

But motivation to get outside and get moving is sometimes tough to come by—especially if you’re not someone who naturally thrives on colder temperatures (yes—those people do exist!). Thankfully, it’s possible to learn to manage the cold so you can stay healthy, improve your mood, boost your resilience, and even keep your social life active!

1. Bring Out Your Inner Meteorologist

Listen to the news, check online, or install a weather app on your phone to keep up with changing weather forecasts. Pay attention to the real feel temperature—that tells you what the air really feels like once wind, humidity, and temperature are factored in. The real feel temperature can make all the difference to getting outside comfortably. A day that’s 40 degrees and sunny with no wind is going to feel a lot different from the same temperature with no sun and strong wind gusts.  Know what kind of weather you’ll be out in so you can plan the right way.

2. Dress the Right Way

Being active outside is a great way to clear you mind, reduce stress, and boost your immunity. But if you’re shivering because you’re too cold or sweating because you’re overheated, your mind isn’t going to focus on anything but being uncomfortable. Dress in layers when you’re heading out and if you’re planning to move—from a moderate to fast paced walk or more intense—dress so that any sweat isn’t absorbed by that first layer. Moisture-wicking clothes keep you warmer because they don’t get damp from sweat which means you’ll be more comfortable.

3. Don’t Forget the Extras

Make yourself comfy by protecting you head, feet, and hands. Hate hats? Use an ear warmer band. You ears are going to get cold quickly, especially if there’s wind. If it’s especially cold and windy, a thin glove under a thicker mitten or heavier gloves will help. Use heat pads in them if you tend to get very cold extremities. The same goes for your feet. Moisture-wicking socks layered under wool socks keep your feet dry and warm. Protect your face with a gaiter or scarf over your face covering.

4. Have the Right Equipment

Snow and ice can make the simplest hike perilous, and you don’t want to fall. Wear proper shoes that have thick rubber soles because running sneakers are no match for a patch of ice on the sidewalk or on the trail. If you aren’t out all the time, investing in a pair of inexpensive shoe coverings (like Yaktrax) gives you extra traction on slippery surfaces. If you’ll be out when the sun is setting or rising, have a flashlight. And wearing reflective gear and bright colors at all times of the day and night will help drivers see you. That’s as easy as putting on a reflective safety vest over your coat—no need to buy a new coat or clothes.

5. Get a Crew

The pull of staying inside can be pretty strong. If you meet up with a friend for a socially distanced walk or join a group dedicated to being outside, you’ll be much more motivated to keep those commitments. And you’ll be more successful at keeping with your plan. Meeting someone outside for some exercise will help stave off the loneliness that is so common right now during the pandemic. If meeting up isn’t easy, plan to make a date to call someone so you can talk and get outside (just use one earbud, so you can hear what’s going on around you).

This winter, try to get outside for some sunshine and fresh air and see if your mood, and your health, improves!

Is Palliative Care and Hospice Nursing Right for You?

Is Palliative Care and Hospice Nursing Right for You?

As November draws to a close, the end of National Hospice and Palliative Care Month also winds down. Many families spent an unsettled holiday weekend without loved ones, either because they wanted to be safe and not gather with people outside their immediate households or they were unable to travel. In many other cases, illness, from COVID-19 or otherwise, prevented loved ones being together. Still other families have suffered the loss of a loved one this year.

As a pandemic continues to move swiftly into every community in the United States, the subject of death and dying and end-of-life care is much more at the forefront in our society right now. As palliative care and hospice nurses see all the time, many families enter into the last stages of a loved one’s life without any real understanding of what kind of care wishes their loved one would like them to follow.

These last two days of National Hospice and Palliative Care Month focus on end-of-life care and advocacy to spread awareness of how discussions about end-of-life preferences and choices need to happen long before they are actually necessary. While many of us aren’t inclined to have such difficult conversations during the holidays, finding a time when you’re able to start the discussion can save confusion and doubt when you need the information. As a nurse, this is a good opportunity to remind your patients of the value of talking about their wishes with their loved ones.

Palliative care and hospice nurses are often able to help guide families during the last months of life as they care for someone with a life-limiting illness. While the patient is given the best care to make them as comfortable as possible, nurses in this specialty also assist families who may be struggling with sadness and uncertainty about their loved one’s condition.

This area of nursing is growing quickly, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which predicts growing need for palliative and hospice care workers to meet increasing demand. As the baby boomer segment of the American population continues to age, the need for hospice and palliative care will become more pressing.

It’s essential to have enough workers to fill the hospice nursing need, and the National Association for Home Care and Hospice advocates for all the professionals in this industry. As a registered nurse, you can provide case manager services as well as direct medical care. If you’re a nurse practitioner, you’ll have additional responsibility and duties, including prescribing the medications that help your patients manage any pain they may be experiencing. LPNs provide the comforting physical care and companionship so essential during a person’s last days.

If you think this nursing specialty is a good fit for you, getting additional work experience in a palliative care and hospice care setting will help you make a decision. Working with people at the end of their lives is incredibly rewarding for hospice nurses, but the role isn’t for everyone. If you decide to move forward, becoming a certified hospice and palliative nurse (CHPN) gives you the additional education and knowledge you’ll need to be most effective in this position.

A career in palliative care and hospice nursing is rewarding as you help bring a sense of dignity to a patient’s final days.

Why the Great American Smokeout Is Important Now

Why the Great American Smokeout Is Important Now

With a respiratory virus pandemic surging through the world’s populations right now, the goals of the Great American Smokeout are as important and timely as they’ve ever been.

The COVID-19 virus can strike smokers and those with impaired lung functions especially hard, so the present is absolutely an important time to quit or to help your loved ones, colleagues, or patients with their quitting journey. The World Health Organization (WHO) offered this statement on its website, “Smoking any kind of tobacco reduces lung capacity and increases the risk of many respiratory infections and can increase the severity of respiratory diseases.”

Here are some facts about smoking from the American Cancer Society:

  • About 32.4 million American adults still smoke cigarettes.
  • Smoking remains the single largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world.
  • Smoking causes an estimated 480,000 deaths every year, or about 1 in 5 deaths.
  • More than 16 million Americans live with a smoking-related disease.
  • Once you quit, your body begins to recover and returns to a healthier state.

Whether you’re a smoker or are just interested in how to help someone you know who is quitting, giving up smoking is one of the most important steps to committing to a healthy lifestyle. In addition to reducing the risk of cancer that is inherent with smoking, those who quit are able to reap the many benefits of giving up smoking–from better heart health to saving money on nicotine products.

Here’s what you need to know about quitting smoking.

“It’s Not Easy” Is an Understatement

Those who have quit say it’s one of the hardest things they have ever had to do. Smoking is physically addictive, and it’s also emotionally addictive. People who are trying to quit are breaking their body’s real craving for a substance that it depends on. But they are also breaking an ingrained habit that may have been used to fill a void whether it is to soothe, energize, distract, or relax. Tackling both of those at the same time is challenging, but millions of people have proven it can be done.

If You’re Trying to Quit

Talk to people who have quit to find what worked for them and then explore every option. Look at your habits so you can identify your triggers and be ready to deal with them. There are support groups, medications, and resources that can help—the WHO even has an AI approach to quitting. Find someone who can help motivate you and keep you going when it’s hard—whether that’s a friend, loved one, or a professional. Accept that quitting smoking is going to be as difficult physically as it is psychologically. You’re giving up something that is part of your daily routine.

If You’re Trying to Help Someone Quit

The decision to quit is a deeply personal one. You can offer support and distraction and can be a buddy, but it’s not up to you whether the person you’re supporting succeeds. If you’re trying to help someone who is quitting, talk about what will aid them the most. Do they want you to check in with them at certain times when the urge to smoke might be strongest (when they wake up, during work breaks, after meals) or do they want to be the one to reach out? Would it help if you set up times to go for a short walk or could find a few fidgets to keep their hands busy? Remember, if they don’t succeed the first time they try to quit, they aren’t alone. It takes most smokers more than one try to quit for good.

Taking the first step toward quitting is significant. Stating your intentions is half the battle—then it’s finding and following the best process to success. Join others during the Great American Smokeout and start your path to a healthier life.

Is Forensic Nursing a Career for You?

Is Forensic Nursing a Career for You?

One of the most appealing aspects of the nursing profession is the wide choice nurses have when deciding on a specialty. Depending on personal interest or experience, educational goals, or opportunities, nurses have the ability to work in virtually every location and with every population.

Nurses who choose the forensic nursing specialty are driven to offer medical and emotional care while also helping law enforcement. Forensic nurses specialize in treating patients who have suffered injury and trauma due to intentional violence or neglect.

According to the International Association of Forensic Nurses, forensic nurses treat those who are in physical and emotional pain and who are traumatized by what happened to them. Patients they see may have suffered domestic violence, sexual assault, or have been victims of random violence or a catastrophic event. They might have experienced severe neglect leading to health problems and emotional pain. Some nurses work with the perpetrators of violence and work with criminal offenders in a psychiatric forensic nurse specialty.

Because of the criminal nature of the injuries inflicted, law enforcement officials are often involved in these cases. Patients in the care of forensic nurses need compassionate and careful medical attention, and they are often asked to work with law enforcement to bring justice. Even if they want to provide details and tell their side of the story, doing so can trigger new trauma for patients.

Forensic nurses work with their patients to help them heal and recover, but they do so with a careful approach that never loses sight of the patient’s experience. While nurses provide care, they are also collecting evidence that can be used to help bring those who abused or harmed the victim to justice. Forensic nurses are often called upon to provide testimony about the care they gave, the injuries they saw and recorded and other details that may help investigating law enforcement and a legal team.

If this specialty is something that appeals to you, becoming a registered nurse is your first step. Many forensic nurses go on to earn nurse practitioner credentials and certification as well. And as a forensic nurse, there are many opportunities for you to continue to advance your education so you can help your patients most effectively. Since 1976, the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) nursing program has helped victims of sexual assault by offering compassionate healthcare while also collecting essential evidence. States implement their own programs, like this SANE program in Massachusetts and this SANE certification program in Texas.

Although no nursing specialty is easy or free from seeing trauma, a forensic nurse’s role sees significant trauma on a daily basis. To continue to offer the best nursing care possible, forensic nurses should be particularly mindful of their own mental health so they are able to cope with the impacts of violence and neglect they see every day.

Forensic nurses serve a vulnerable population that depends on the life-changing care they provide. If you’re motivated to help patients and have a commitment to justice, this is a good career path to explore.

Periop Nurses Help Create a Safe Surgery

Periop Nurses Help Create a Safe Surgery

Perioperative nurses are an essential part of any surgical team. This week’s Perioperative Nurses Week spreads awareness of this career path while also educating the public about this vital operating room role.

Nurses in this role fill a pre-op and post-op need while also remaining with the patient during a procedure. According to the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN), they are the eyes and ears for the patient while a procedure is going on, but they are also helping prepare the patients emotionally and physically beforehand and helping them during the immediate recovery. They impart a sense of calm and caring while using precise nursing skills to constantly assess what’s happening with the patient.

In this role, nurses simultaneously gather vital patient health information, communicate effectively with the patient and the patient’s loved ones, and continually monitor the patient during all stages of pre-to-post op for a smooth and safe surgery. Periop nurses may do many tasks at once, but their focus on the patient must remain absolutely unwavering.

Because they are charged with monitoring the patient as they are going though surgery, periop nurses have to have a keen ability to know when something has changed. They remain alert for fluctuations in heart rate or blood pressure that will appear on the monitors. But they also must watch the patient to notice any signs of distress or change that monitors may not pick up like a subtle change in the patient’s breathing pattern or skin tone or muscle activity.

Periop nurses are the advocate for the patient at a time when they are most vulnerable and unable to advocate for themselves. An acute sense of perception and a dedication to patient care and advocacy are hallmarks of nurses in this role. Nurses who are with patients throughout a surgical procedure must also have excellent critical thinking skills and have the confidence in their professional skills to act immediately and not second guess what they are noticing.

If you’re a nursing student and thinking of this as a career, you’ll need varied hands-on nursing experience so you can develop your skills. Taking swift, decisive, and accurate action is part of the job and something the medical team and the patient depend on. If you think this career path matches your goals, you can begin building your nursing skills with this as a focus.

Aside from exacting medical skills, periop nurses also have a special ability to connect with people so they are able to help them through any anxiety about what’s happening. They have an innate sense topics that people want to talk about and that will help both soothe their nerves while also giving valuable information about who they are and what their lives are like.

This might seem like chit-chat, but it helps the nurse in a couple of ways. The answers to questions can give the nurse a few things to talk about as the patient is coming out of anesthesia and needs something familiar to grasp in conversation. A patient who told a story about a spouse or a pet will likely be happy to do that again in post-op.

Answers to other questions might also offer insight for the nurse as treatment plans are being figured out. Maybe a patient is concerned about getting medication or doesn’t understand some previous instructions. Periop nurses know how to get important information from patients that will help them recover faster and improve their outcomes.

Periop nurses have a valuable skill set that balances professional excellence with unsurpassed interpersonal communication. If you have periop nurses on your team, celebrate all they do this week. And if you’re a periop nurse, notice how your hard work makes a patient feel more relaxed while you know you are offering excellent care.