As a nurse you take care of sick people all day, providing them with the best care possible. But you need to take care of yourself as well. Staying healthy as a nurse is important and it’s not easy. Nurses are always busy, tired and have a lot of things to do.
Just because you are healthy doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take the necessary steps to look out for your health, both physically and mentally. Here are some recommendations to help you stay healthy:
Although it may feel like a waste of time, you must go to your regular check-ups with medical professionals to make sure your health is on track. For example, you might discover that your cholesterol levels are high and that you need to change your diet and possibly start a medication regimen. Same for high blood pressure, diabetes and other health ailments – they are best if caught early or prevented altogether with dietary and lifestyle changes.
To stay healthy, I follow a diet regimen. My doctor told me to stay on a low-carb and low-protein diet. For those who follow a more traditional or ethnic cuisine, this can be very challenging. I’m Filipino so I had Filipino food at home every day. The Filipino cuisine is full of carbs and proteins; rice is our staple food and we eat a lot of meat, beef, chicken, sugary desserts and other sweets. Filipino food is delicious but if you consume too much of it daily, it won’t be healthy for you too. You need to maintain a balance stay in a healthy range.
It might not be easy to change, but you need to do what is best for your health. Eating a wide range of different kinds of foods such as salads, fruits, vegetables, nuts, berries and the like are ideal to incorporate in any diet. My doctors also recommended that I avoid eating late at night and not eat as many foods high in sugar.
Exercise gets me going – I work out every morning for about 15 to 30 minutes. I start on my stationary bike at home and add exercises such as upper arm open-close and lateral extensions. It feels good to work out every day and makes me feel energized, happy, motivated, empowered and productive.
Exercise shouldn’t feel like a chore and it doesn’t have to be. You should find something that gets you excited and encourages you to get moving! Having a dance background helps me with my exercise routine now. I used to dance ballet, Tahitian, belly dance and hula when I was younger, and I remember how much fun it was then and is now. I use what I’ve learned in the past as an addition to my exercise routine; I do some stretching too. Swimming is also a good form of exercise.
As a nurse, sometimes we pride ourselves on how much we can accomplish with so little sleep. However, this is an unhealthy way to live. It is incredibly important that you try to get about eight hours of sleep a night.
I worked night shifts for years and I wasn’t healthy during that time of my life. I was underweight, stressed and I had headaches. I didn’t get much sunlight exposure, so my vitamin D level dropped down low. I didn’t have a normal sleep routine. Even after I slept in the morning or afternoon, I still didn’t feel well-rested. I had to quit the night shift for the sake of my health. When I started doing other shifts, I also started to feel better and normal again.
Achieving a Work-Life Balance
I’ve been working as a nurse for over six years now. One thing I find in the working world is the fact that even when you love what you do, you need to have some breaks, too. Working can be exhausting. Achieving a work-life balance is important to prevent burnout. You aren’t doing yourself, your co-workers or your patients any favors when you are burnt out. Do what works for you and give yourself a break when you need it to relax.
Take time to do things that you love! If my family and friends are available, we go out to talk, go shopping, dine out, do karaoke, painting, bowling, hiking, do indoor skydiving and the like. You name it, we try it! I also make sure that I find time to rest and recharge for self-care. After taking the opportunity to rest and relax outside of work I feel ready to go back to work.
Changing my lifestyle wasn’t always easy but with determination and discipline, anything is possible. It takes discipline and laser-sharp focus to stay healthy!