Being a nurse is a great job but staying healthy around all those sick people can sometimes be a challenge. Nurses are exposed to everything from the common cold to the uncommon everything else. If nurses don’t take care of themselves they will surely be missing work – or even worse, going to work ill and infecting their coworkers and patients.
A nurse’s work can be taxing physically and emotionally. It is important to take precautions to protect yourself from injury and to engage in activities that are stress reducers.
Tips for Staying Healthy
Protect your back. Studies by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) show healthcare workers have 4.5 times as many back overexertion injuries than other types of workers. Nurses and nurse’s aides top that list, beating out sanitation workers slinging heavy trash cans every day.
To prevent injury, learn proper lifting techniques and use them with patients and equipment. Strengthen your core muscles and the benefits are twofold: better posture and a stronger back.
Take breaks as often as you can. The No. 1 health affliction of nurses is urinary tract infections. Many nurses regulate their water intake so they don’t have go to the bathroom because they don’t have time. Whenever offered a break, take it. Sit down, have a drink, go to the restroom, chill out for even 10 minutes and the body will thank you by not breaking down.
Eat lunch or whatever meal comes in the middle of the shift. The body needs energy almost as much as it needs water. Choose nutritious foods that pack a healthy punch and don’t make you feel sluggish.
The meal break also is a time to catch up with co-workers, make phone calls, and rest the body and the mind for the next half of the day. Leave the department during this time, whenever you can. Find a quiet corner or a spot outside to get away from the craziness of the unit.
A regular sleep schedule is key to curing all types of ills. Whether you are working a relatively routine eight-hour shift and hitting the sack after the evening news or working a hectic 12-hour shift and trying to sleep through the sunlight and ruckus of a normal day, letting the body rest is absolutely necessary for the brain and body to meet the demands of a busy nurse’s lifestyle.
Have some fun. “Laughter is the best medicine” is a cliché for a reason: It’s true. Don’t spend time away from work thinking about work. Pursue a hobby, get a pet, try a new activity (anything from cooking to skydiving will do) and find people to laugh with. Whether it’s with coworkers, friends or family, find time to hang out and have a good time. A positive mental attitude will make every day better.