Meet Med Couture guest blogger Christina Delaney. Christina is sharing her insight on important it is to practice self care as a nurse, along with some of her fantastic suggestions on how to do so.
Nurses are some of the hardest working professionals and are known for habitually overextending themselves in many areas of their lives. I know quite a few nurses who work so much overtime I cannot imagine how their body functions daily. We as nurses are literally caring for others and their lives are in our hands, therefore it is super important that we are functioning at our best especially while caring for patients.
An overtired, hungry and cranky nurse has no place in the presence of patients.
I find that if I make it a priority to focus on certain key areas in my life, it helps to keep me on my toes and be the best nurse possible to care for my patients.
First and foremost, for me personally exercise is crucial to my sanity and health. Exercise for me is like a free form of therapy. It calms me and keeps my mood elevated naturally. After I exercise I always have a much better shift. I am cheerful and extra friendly to my patients, so it’s a win win situation for both of us! Not only does it improve my mood, but it keeps me fit and able to perform my job duties effectively. Nurses have very physically demanding jobs and if you keep your body fit, you can perform these physical tasks for your patients safely and with more ease without causing injury to your body. Exercise on a regular basis can also help ward off many health ailments and sickened that an unhealthy body would otherwise easily catch and get sick from. I myself workout at least 5 times per week and to make it easier on myself, I workout at home so I don’t have to worry about getting ready for and driving to a gym. I love working out via Beachbody On Demand, Les Mills on Demand and You Tube also has many free workouts available if you aren’t looking to spend any money on a monthly subscription.
Nurses are always on the go and frequently forget to drink enough water! Water and hydration is essential to maintaining your health, we all know this. Dehydration can happen quickly and cause many unpleasant symptoms such as feeling tired, headaches, and even dizziness. I find that if I keep a big reusable water bottle with me at work, it reminds me to keep drinking water all throughout my shift. If you have trouble remembering to drink water, there are reusable water bottles that literally have hourly time markers on them to remind you to drink water at certain intervals throughout the day. You can always flavor your water with fresh fruits or cucumbers if you aren’t a fan of water to make it more flavorful. Nurses love to do challenges together so why not create a water challenge among your fellow nurses to remind each other to stay hydrated throughout the shift? A lot of times nurses can get tempted to snack on unhealthy foods because they feel hungry. Many times, if you make sure to stay properly hydrated, those hunger pains disappear!
Speaking of unhealthy snacking, nutrition is also key to maintaining your best state of wellness. Meal prepping at home on a day off to prepare your meals for work ahead of time is a great way to ensure you are eating nutritious meals while at work. Unhealthy, packaged, greasy and sugar laced foods do not generally leave you feeling satisfied and they also make you feel tired and bloated soon after consumption. Meal prepping doesn’t have to be complicated, there are plenty of free Pinterest recipe guides available to give you great recipe ideas. The key to healthy eating is to stick to lean proteins, lots of fresh vegetables and fruit and of course healthy fats. There are also plenty of Instagram accounts dedicated to healthy meals on the go and meal prep ideas. Bringing your own food to work saves you money by not eating at the cafeteria and allows you to control exactly what ingredients your body is consuming.
Last but not least, rest and relaxation are so very important for a nurse. We all know the importance of rest but rarely abide by the recommendations. Without proper rest, a nurse can be prone to make mistakes or at the very least not function at their optimal state. No one likes to feel tired, so making sure to get to bed at a decent time is a goal all nurses should make for themselves. Relaxation or scheduling fun activities for yourself will also help to make you a happier person and a better nurse while at work. You cannot constantly give all your energy to work without giving back to yourself and recharging your internal battery. Make time to see your friends, family or loved ones that make you happy and do fun activities together. I love spending time with my family, watching good movies, going on walks, eating out at good restaurants and having family BBQ’s.
I also enjoy listening to good personal development books via Audible. I regularly listen to insightful podcasts such as Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations and Hal Elrod’s Achieve Your Goals which help give me practical advice on navigating life and encourage me to always create goals for myself. Gratitude journals are very helpful for me as it always allows me to bring any type of problem or issue I may be having into a realistic perspective. When we practice gratitude daily, we are naturally happier, kinder to others and choose to see the good in those we encounter on a daily basis.
I am proud to be a nurse and over the years I have learned that the only way I can be of service to others is to FIRST and foremost put my health as my top priority! I make sure to take care of me first, that way when I care for my patients they have me at my absolute best. Last but not least, I always remember that even on my worst days to treat my patients as I would want to be treated. Compassion and kindness go a very long way, a patient will always remember you if you show them kindness and treat them with respect.
I hope these tips help make you a better nurse too!