Being a nurse is tough work and the level of physical activity can vary greatly depending on the position. Nurses have to spend a lot of their time walking and standing, and unless they have a basic level of physical fitness, they might have difficulty getting through shifts.
Maybe you’ve been feeling sluggish lately, or can’t seem to perform your functions as well as usual. In many cases, it has to do with your health and lifestyle choices. Here are a few essential tips for nurses who want to stay fit and healthy.
Take Care of Your Mental Health First
First, you have to know that fatigue is not always a sign of a physical issue. Mental exhaustion can also start affecting your energy levels. So, you should look at where your morale is standing right now. If you find yourself needing to hit that snooze button 12 times before getting out of bed and are considering calling in sick too often, then it might be a deeper issue.
If that is the case, you have to look at resources within your organisation or elsewhere. Consult your wellness department if there is one and look at therapy as well. Take as many mental health days as you can when they’re warranted and don’t feel guilty about it. This is what they’re here for, so take full advantage of them.
Consider a New Position
Whether you’re mentally or physically exhausted, you should consider if a change of air could be a good thing for you. If you’re getting older or simply can’t deal with the physical toil, then you could look at positions that are less physically demanding.
One great option, for instance, would be to move into a field like family nursing. Here, you’ll be able to work in a much less stressful environment. You also won’t have to do physically demanding work as much and the duties are much more predictable.
Working in family nursing can be great for mental health too. One of the many issues that nurses complain about is not being about to build a connection with their patients. As a family nurse, you get to follow people from their youth all the way to adulthood and guide them in their lifestyle decisions. You get to see them become the best version of themselves thanks to you, and you may become a part of their family as a result.
Also, know that there are ways that you can become a family nurse practitioner while keeping your current position. One of them would be to go for an online program. Many online programs will allow you to get your credentials on your own time and move into a better role.
Adjust Your Diet
What you eat as a nurse will make a huge difference in your performance. Nurses have to be mentally alert at all times and have enough strength and energy to get through the day.
Coffee is a go-to for many nurses, and we’re not going to tell you that you can’t have a morning coffee. However, you will eventually crash if you drink too much on coffee or don’t make wise food choices during the rest of the day.
The secret here is to provide your body with a steady source of energy. In this case, your best friend will be complex carbs. You need to load your diet with as many complex carbs as you want, especially if you’re doing a lot of walking. Protein also plays an essential role. Protein is not only what gives you physical strength and allows you to maintain muscle mass, but it favors mental clarity and alertness as well.
One thing you want to avoid, however, is saturated fats. You can have a little bit, but if you have too much, you will start feeling sluggish and experience some mental fog. You should also try to stay away from simple sugars as they will give you a spike and a crash. You might also become dependant on them.
The stronger your body is, the easier your duties will be. Anything that will develop your legs and upper body strength will be helpful if you have to lift patients or walk a lot. We suggest that you focus on working on your strength only during your training sessions if you already do a lot of walking in your duties. You are already getting all the cardio you can handle.
Take Rest Days
It’s also important that you take some rest days when you perform little to no physical activity. This will be important if you want your body to recover. If you go too hard all the time, your body will never have the time to heal, and you will start getting weaker instead of stronger. There’s also a greater chance that you develop an injury.
Create the Perfect Sleep Environment
You also have to make sure that you have optimised your bedroom for sleep. This is especially important for nurses working the night shift. If this is your situation, one of the first things we would suggest is that you invest in black-out curtains. This is because even the slightest amount of light entering a room could be enough to trip your body’s internal clock.
Also, if it’s very hot during the day, you will have to invest in good air conditioning if you haven’t already. Heat is one of the worst enemies for sleep. It is recommended that a room should never be over 67°F for optimal sleep. We also suggest that you invest in a sleep mask and earplugs.
Another thing you should do is have a set routine when you come home. Don’t assume that you have to go to bed right away. Instead, do something relaxing until your body tells you it’s time to go to sleep. It will eventually get into its rhythm and getting to sleep will become easier over time.
Being fit and healthy should be a priority for any nurse. If you take the steps necessary, you could boost your performance, morale, and even add a few years to your career.