Nurses know all there is to know about how to get and stay healthy. They give patients the rundown on good cholesterol numbers, target weights, prime activity goals, and even how to keep stress at bay.
But nurses are also notorious for putting their own health at the bottom of their own to-do lists. With their drive and passion for caring for others, there’s often precious little time left over to devote to themselves. But a recent Kronos Incorporated survey revealed how tired nurses are despite being happy with their jobs. Four out of five nurses surveyed say they find it hard to “balance mind, body, and spirit.”
So as National Women’s Health Week kicks off (next month we will address men’s health issues!), here are a few short tips the Office on Women’s Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for staying healthy.
Have a Healthy Body
Staying in balance starts with keeping your body healthy. Do as much as you can to find what works for you to feed your body with healthy and nutrient-dense foods. Stay hydrated, even it it means just drinking water because you have to. Keep your body moving. As a nurse you might move all day, so just add in some stretches to stay limber and help prevent injury.
Get Well-Deserved Rest
It can’t be said enough: nurses need rest. And with the Kronos survey revealing an alarming amount of fatigued nurses (43 percent hide how tired they are from their managers), sleep is nothing to scrimp on. Get the rest you need however you can get it. If you can’t get the 7 to 9 hours a night that’s optimal (who really can do that?) then fit in a short nap or at least a rest time. Getting enough sleep helps prevent not just nurse burnout, but will prevent errors from overly sleepy nurses. That means your rest can save someone’s life.
Limit the Extras
So consider extra fat, sugar, and caffeine as special. A little is fine, but a lot is just a once-in-a-while thing. Limit or cut our alcohol and flat-out don’t smoke or use recreational or illegal drugs. Give your body a good foundation to build on
A big part of staying healthy, says the Office on Women’s Health, is to stay safe. So wear proper gear when you are skiing, rollerblading, or riding a bike or motorcycle. If you are in a car, wear a seatbelt and don’t text while driving. If you’re on a boat, wear a life preserver, and if you swim, make sure you aren’t alone.
Track Your Health
Keep track of things like your weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, and any other important health numbers. Check your skin for changes, your breasts for lumps or noticeable changes, and keep your vaccines up to date.
Don’t Forget the Mind/Spirit Connection
Nurses especially need time that is quiet. Turn the radio off in the car or if you ride the subway, tune out with headphones set on ocean sounds or bird calls. Nurture your spirit with what makes you happy—friends, family, church, nature. Even thirty minutes of time to recharge, if it is meaningful and you really enjoy it, can have calming effects that last long into your work week.
Taking some time to find the balance between your mind, body, and spirit can keep you healthy, but will also make you a better nurse.