How to Reduce Stress and Stay Healthy as a Nurse


Nurses dedicate their working lives to providing the best possible care and advice to patients. This desire to help others in need is what makes them such a crucial part of the healthcare industry, but it shouldn’t be at the cost of their own physical and mental well-being.

If you’re a nurse struggling with exhaustion, stress and even illness, it’s time to take back control of your daily life. Following a few relatively simple steps and theories can improve your mood, immune system and overall health so you feel happy at home and at work and able to provide the expert support and guidance people need.

get enough sleep

People still underestimate the importance of sleep, especially busy workers who are likely to focus on tasks late at night or early in the morning. Getting a good night’s sleep can transform the way you think and feel, which will have a very positive impact on your mental health. Nutrition expert Cynthia Thurlow believes that sleep is “essential to our health” and recommends getting at least seven hours a day.

Sleep is important because it flushes toxins from the brain and gives the mind and body time to rest properly. This will allow you to wake up refreshed with energy for the work day ahead. To ensure you get a long and rewarding sleep, try turning off all electronic devices and ideally your smartphone 60 minutes before bed. During this time, you can read or meditate to prepare for falling asleep when your head hits the pillow. Your bedroom should also be dark and cool throughout the night.

Start the day with an energetic breakfast

Breakfast is called the most important meal of the day for a reason. Research shows that adults who start the day with healthy and tasty foods ‘power’ foods you’ll have more energy and better brain function for the tasks ahead. This means you should avoid sugary cereals or pancakes. Instead, have a bowl of oatmeal with fruit or a vegetable omelet. The goal is to get a combination of protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates that will set you up for the day. Drinking a cup of coffee is also recommended, but don’t go overboard with caffeine as it can “get you down” later.

While it can be tempting for nurses to skip breakfast due to the busy nature of work in hospitals and healthcare facilities, prioritizing a nutritious meal early in the day can transform the way you think and feel. You’ll also benefit from taking your own meals and snacks for lunch and dinner so you’re not loading up on carbs and sugar at the canteen. Eating some fresh nuts and fruit can also keep your energy levels up between meals.

Get some moderate intensity exercise

Nurses are on their feet most of the day and usually take enough steps to reach a daily healthy walking goal. However, the CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week for adults, so try to incorporate a gym session or a light run or jog every other day. Health expert Amy Lewis notes: “Physical activity is important to keep your immune system strong. Exercise causes the body to release endorphins that reduce stress levels. With exercise, our body also releases a hormone called cortisol.”

Like the right foods, exercise can stimulate your mind and body, but don’t overdo it. Lewis says that really intense exercise can often lead to a spike in cortisol levels, which can be detrimental to your well-being, especially if you don’t have time to rest afterwards. If you have a hard time finding time to exercise, you can take a brisk 15-minute walk or walk up and down the stairs during a break. Activities like swimming, dancing, yoga, and tai chi are also great ways to exercise throughout the week.

Optimize your work life balance

Busy nurses may scoff at the idea of ​​trying to prioritize their lives outside of work, but it’s important that you don’t lose your sense of self and completely forget about your personal hopes, hobbies, and ambitions. It is understandable that keeping a work life balance for nurses It’s challenging, but small acts of self-care can contribute to a happier, more content and fulfilling life at home and at work. This also applies when studying to become a nurse, as the courses can often be quite rigorous and demanding. Walsh University’s MSN and DNP programs emphasize the need for ‘mindfulness’ and being able to accept things as they are without worry, simplifying your daily routines to reduce stress and defining your personal goals and purposes in life and outside of work. worked.

This is important for your long-term health. Research shows that people who work long hours with the balance tipped entirely in favor of their job are more likely to be unhappy, stressed, and have poorer personal health. Balancing your work with family commitments if you have children and your personal life will be difficult in a demanding nursing environment, but it is something you must actively work on every day if you want to be happier and healthier.

Organize your daily tasks

One way to make time for the people and things you love is to use smartphone apps to create to-do lists and schedule your daily tasks. Nursing is a hectic and stressful profession, so it can be easy to lose track of what you’re supposed to be doing from one hour to the next. Jotting down your schedule and creating reminders for these tasks can reduce the mental load of work, since you’ll essentially be outsourcing these thought processes to your mobile device. Not having to constantly think about where you need to be will minimize the stress and hassle of everyday work.

Scheduling will also help you create more time for recreation and other life events outside of work. You may find that you can find exercise and downtime to wind down throughout the day by planning ahead more effectively and setting stricter boundaries for meetings and conversations. This is also a reminder of how technology can be used to make you more organized and productive at work and at home. Smart watches, phones, and speakers can automate specific tasks so you have more time for the important things in life.

Manage your stress levels

Constantly feeling stressed and exhausted is a fast track to poor health. Therefore, it is important to actively manage the emotional stress of work so that it does not become too much and negatively affect other areas of your life. Nurses will say that this is easier said than done, considering how busy and demanding the job is, but again, it’s about taking a small amount of time to take stock of your thoughts and feelings and try to address the imbalance. Thurlow says stress can be a bigger problem when we’re in tune with the “sympathetic side of our nervous system,” which is probably true in nursing.

She adds: “We need to make more of an effort to decompress and use proven strategies like connecting with nature, grounding, meditation, gratitude journaling, etc. All of these lower cortisol, which helps decrease our response to stress”. If you don’t decompress, stress can snowball into exhaustion and illness, so try to prioritize at least one or two relaxing activities every day.

Take enough water and vitamins

Drinking enough fluids throughout the day can be an afterthought for busy workers, but staying hydrated is another important factor for overall physical health. The US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommend a daily intake of 2.7 liters (11.5 cups) per day for women and 3.7 liters (15.5 cups) per day for men . Most people don’t drink enough water. While cups of coffee and tea count toward your water intake as part of a balanced diet, drinking bottled or tap water is best overall.

Most importantly, drinking water will prevent dehydration, making it easier for you to focus on important work tasks. It also regulates body temperature and helps transport nutrients to cells. You can buy a reusable stainless steel water bottle and fill it several times a day to ensure that you always have fluid on hand when you need it. You can also add a fruit flavor if you don’t like the taste of plain water. Juices and smoothies are also good, but check the sugar content beforehand.

Nurses are also likely to spend most of their work days indoors, so it wouldn’t hurt to take vitamin supplements, especially vitamin D during the winter to make up for the lack of light and sun. These supplements can help you feel better and strengthen your immune system while fighting off potential illnesses and infections. All of these tips are realistic and manageable. While it may take some effort on your part to make the necessary changes, making sure you eat a balanced diet made up of natural foods, getting enough exercise, managing your schedule, and working toward a better work-life balance all contribute to a happier and healthier life. healthier you.

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