If you’re like most nurses, the demands of the holiday season plus an already challenging career and family life can really take a toll on your health and well-being. Instead of enjoying a season of joy, some of us may equate it to a season of stress. We get so busy we simply don’t pause to enjoy the festivities, like gift shopping, cookie baking, holiday parties, and visits with friends and family.

As nurses well know, stress can tear down your mind, your body, and your spirit. Of course, stress isn’t always a bad thing, but too much of it can certainly be. That’s why it’s absolutely crucial that you practice self-care during the next several weeks. When you’re more gentle with yourself, you’re able to increase your well-being and to enjoy a calmer entree into the new year.

With stress relief in mind, here’s a look at a multi-pronged strategy that will help you to conquer the chaos and put you in control during the holidays.

Give Yourself Preventative Self-Care

As a nurse you’re aware that diet and fitness are part of a holistic approach to easing your mind and staying healthy. There’s no secret formula to eating healthy, exercising smart, sleeping soundly, and otherwise warding off illness and disease.

Fight the Flu

Start with one obvious tactic: Have you had your flu shot yet? A vaccine can go a long way toward protecting you from minor aches and pains. Or worse, a full-blown case of influenza that keeps you away from the bedside and your patients for two weeks. The worst case scenario, of course, is if you were to become so ill that you had to be hospitalized yourself.

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Fit in Fitness

How about making sure to work in a workout everyday to beat stress, boost energy, and burn off extra calories from those holiday cookies? You may have to sneak in exercise if you don’t have 30 minutes in one stretch. Break up your workout into three 10 minute segments—a short walk to work (park at the outer edge of the parking lot), a walk to your car after work, and a strength session using mini-weights while watching TV, perhaps.

Lighten Up Dishes

Comfort food seems to rule when the weather turns chilly, and it’s hard to say “No” when everyone is partaking of once-a-year treats, like eggnog. With some imagination and planning, you can be the diet savior who bring in lighter alternatives that are just as appetizing and festive. Your coworkers will appreciate a featherweight angel food cake with a side of tropical fruit just as much as a calorie-dense pecan pie a la mode. You’ll be glad that you gave a face lift to those heavyweight favorites when you see the scale in January and realized you’ve dodged that all-too-common holiday weight gain.

Lighten Up on Yourself

Taking care of your body is a good thing and it all starts with taking care of your mind. When you practice a gentle attitude towards yourself at meals, when working out, and while you’re at work and at home, you’re taking good care of yourself.

Oftentimes as a nurse, you get so tired that all you want to do is sit down (or lie down) and rest. When you’re mindful about self-care, you’ll be able to discern whether you really need that downtime, or you’re just feeling lazy. If it’s the second case, you can nudge yourself into going for a walk instead, knowing that it will clear your mind and help you feel good again.

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The holiday season is a great time to focus on yourself, your health, and your own self-care. Practice prioritizing your health and happiness, and you’re less likely to go back to your old ways. Why not start today?

Jebra Turner
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