3 Ways Compression Socks Help Nurses

3 Ways Compression Socks Help Nurses

Nurses need to be wearing compression socks or stockings for every shift.  Especially nurses who are on their feet for 12 hour shifts!

I have been doing a bit of research lately on the effects of standing/walking for long hours.  The reason for this is that I am an emergency room nurse who has worked on my feet all the way through two entire pregnancies – until just a few weeks before I gave birth.

I had no idea that being on my feet for such long hours could actually be bad for my health. I figured that standing and walking all day was better then sitting for long periods. As it turns out, that may not be true. Even for those who aren’t even pregnant.

Compression stockings are often overlooked as a way to prevent some of the chronic issues that come from working in a profession where you are on your feet for such long hours.  There are enough occupational hazards for nurses as it is and this is an easier way for us to take better care of ourselves on the job!

Standing nurse leaning over to speak with patient

Nurses are standing or walking most of the time which is why it is so important to wear compression socks or stockings.

How Do Compression Socks Help Nurses?

#1.  Prevention of varicose veins

Standing for long periods of time causes valves in the veins to become weakened, causing blood to collect in the veins. This causes the veins to enlarge and increase in pressure. The veins then stretch from the increased pressure and cause varicose veins. Fortunately, varicose veins are not dangerous however then can be very painful.

#2.  Improved blood flow and decreased risk of blood clots

There are a ton of studies out there on using compression stockings to prevent blood clots in patients recovering from surgery. As a nurse, I have helped my own patients use them many times. As it turns out, nurses should probably be using them too.

A study by The Society of Occupational Medicine found that wearing compression stockings significantly decreased lower limb venous pressure in nurses who stood for very long hours. The data found that compression stockings protected against oxidative stress in those who work in long-standing occupations.

#3.  Decreased swelling of ankles and feet

I have been wearing graduated 30mm compression stockings for about the last 4 weeks during my 12 hour ER shifts. It has been a drastically better experience for me. I wouldn’t even consider going into work without them at this point because my legs start to hurt so badly by the end of the day.

Pregnancy exacerbates the problem of varicose veins and other venous issues since being pregnant increases blood flow in women by 50%. There are days when I hardly sit except for my 1 hour lunch break. That is a long time for anyone, much less a nurse who is already 7 months pregnant. If I didn’t wear compression stockings at this point, I don’t think I would even be able to make it through a shift.

Compression socks help prevent varicose veins..

Compression socks help nurses by preventing varicose views due to standing for long periods of time.

How do compression socks work?

Compression socks help increase circulation of blood flow and oxygen by helping increase the velocity, or speed of blood flow. By squeezing on the legs, the veins carrying blood to the heart are compressed. Think of how when you squeeze a hose, it squirts the water out faster. With compression stockings, the same volume of blood is able to move up the leg, but it has less area in which to move.

graduated compression socks

Compression socks and stockings help nurses by preventing varicose veins due to standing for long periods of time.

Waring compression takes some getting used to.

When I first started wearing compression stockings during my pregnancy I wasn’t happy about it.  My doctor recommended them for me because she knew I was a nurse.  I wore the ankle to waist 20-30mmHg compression stockings, and they are tight! It is not an exaggeration to say that it took at least 5 minutes to pull them up and get them situated. They are especially difficult to put on with a 7th month pregnant belly. I felt (and probably looked) like an awkward whale putting them on.

Compression socks or stockings are a non-negotiable for pregnant nurses… unless you enjoy varicose veins!


Now that I’m used to wearing compression stockings, I love them.  I can’t believe I used to work 12 hour shifts without them.

I have spoken to a lot of other nurses who say the same thing. A male co-worker I spoke with recently in the ER wears knee high compression stockings and says his legs “still feel energized at the end of a shift.”

It makes sense that standing up and working on your feet all day would be problematic in a matter of time. Swelling, varicose veins and decreased blood flow seem like an obvious result of being on your feet for 12 hours a day. Why wasn’t I wearing compression stockings sooner?

As long as I am working as a nurse, compression stockings will be a part of my life. Having pain or discomfort due to my hard work as an RN is so not OK with me. I don’t want future circulation and venous issues due to the fact that I worked hard as a nurse.

As a mom of small babies and an ER nurse I certainly don’t need any more wear-and-tear on my body!

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Additional recommend reading:

5 Ways Nurses Can Practice Holistic Self-Care

5 Ways Nurses Can Practice Holistic Self-Care

(This post is about self care for nurses and may contain affiliate links.  See our disclosure page for more information.)

Written by Deborah Swanson at allheart.com.

5 Ways Nurses Can Practice Holistic Self Care

Self care for nurses should not be an afterthought.

Holistic nurse self care:  Are you really taking care of yourself?

While we often associate the concept of “self-care” with things like getting a massage or engaging in some retail therapy (new stethoscope, anyone?), taking care of yourself requires a much more comprehensive approach than just these occasional indulgences. A holistic approach to self-care acknowledges not only your physical health, but also your mental, spiritual and social health as well. Engaging in holistic self-care will help you become the best nurse that you can be and help you stay healthy for both yourself and your patients.

The World Health Organization defines self-care as “the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote, maintain health, prevent disease and to cope with illness with or without the support of a healthcare provider.” A holistic approach to self-care encompasses several different components—including nutrition, lifestyle, environmental and socioeconomic factors—to make sure that you’re not neglecting any aspect of your wellness. Below, we break down each of these elements and explain how nurses can practice them in their daily lives.

5 Ways Nurses Can Practice Holistic Self Cares

Holistic self care for nurses

Nurse Nutrition

When it comes to self care for nurses, we often don’t practice what they preach.  Nurses know that what we eat and drink are major contributing factors to health. While there are many diets and nutrition philosophies out there, the basics of eating healthy are quite simple. Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and lean proteins; don’t eat too many sugary and/or fatty foods; stay away from highly processed, packaged items as much as you can; and watch your portion sizes. Also seek out a variety of foods to make sure you’re getting all your nutrients.

As for what you drink, make sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and avoiding sugary beverages such as soda and juice. When it comes to beverages such as caffeine and alcohol, consume them in moderation and give your body time to process each drink before downing another. Watch the calorie count on your liquids. Beverages can be surprisingly high in calories, sometimes even more than food of a comparable portion size, so check the label before slurping it down.

Additional recommended reading:

Nurse Lifestyle

As for positive lifestyle choices you can make, exercising regularly and getting a mix of cardiovascular and strength-building workouts are really important for a healthy life. Getting enough sleep and maintaining a regular sleep schedule as much as possible are also good choices. Your lifestyle can also include your social and spiritual activity, such as spending time with supportive friends or engaging in a meaningful religious community—both of which can boost your mental health.

Additional recommended reading:

Woman Running

Running is a great fast and easy workout for busy nurses to fit into their schedules.

Environment

Environmental factors that affect your health are often overlooked, but incredibly important. Certain obvious examples come to mind such as exposure to air pollution, lead paint or other toxic substances. But this is far from the only way the environment impacts your health. Access to grocery stores (which sell produce and healthy foods) and public transportation (which encourages walking and mobility) are just two other instances where the environment can impact your health.

You won’t always be able to change your environment, but being aware of how it affects your health is the first step in self-care. And when you can take steps to improve your environment—such as reducing your exposure to toxic chemicals in your workplace—prioritize them and make them happen.

Additional recommended reading:

Nurse Financials

Socioeconomic status encompasses not just how much money you make, but also what level of education and financial security you have as well as your perceptions of your own social class. Low socioeconomic status negatively affects both physical and mental health in a variety of ways. For example, those with low socioeconomic status are not able to afford preventative care or cover the costs of a medical emergency. Financial insecurity also causes stress, which can lead to a variety of other health problems.

Even though it might not seem like traditional “self-care,” make sure you’re taking steps to get or stay financially healthy. Thankfully, the median annual salary for registered nurses in the US is $70,000, so hopefully you’re being fairly compensated—but smart management of your money is just as important as how much you make. Create a monthly budget, set aside money in savings from each paycheck and spend less than you make. Once you’ve got an emergency fund (3-6 months of living expenses), look into a 401k or other long-term savings plan.

Additional recommended reading:

While “self-care” is often used in a very narrow sense of the word, the concept is actually quite broad and requires a holistic approach to be truly successful. If you only pay attention to one or two aspects of your health but ignore the others, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice as a nurse and as a human being. You deserve to be in the best health possible, so make sure your approach to self-care covers all five components mentioned here.

About The Author

Debbie Swanson, Real Caregivers Program at allheart.com

Deborah Swanson is a Coordinator for the Real Caregivers Program at allheart.com – a site dedicated to celebrating medical professionals and their journeys.  She keeps busy by interviewing caregivers and writing about them and loves gardening.

P.S. HEY NURSES!  Remember to sign up for our email list below and get a FREEBIE from us!

Why A Social Media Break Is Healthy For Nurses

Why A Social Media Break Is Healthy For Nurses

(This post may contain affiliate links.  You can find my disclosure page here.)

Between my time working as a emergency room nurse and nurse mom blogger, I use technology almost constantly.  In fact, both of my jobs would be impossible to do without them.  It would be no understatement to say I am dependent on them.

However, after a particularity stressful year I did a little soul searching to see where I could add a little more intention in my life.   And minimizing my use of social media seemed like a good place to start.

After all, I mindlessly check one or more of my social media accounts several times a day.  And as a nurse and mom my mind is spinning with 1000’s of to-dos already.  How hard could taking a social media break possibly be?

Now, this may seem counter-intuitive coming from a nurse blogger who uses social media for business.  I’m not saying nurses should give up social media permanently.  But it may be helpful for nurses to take a social media break once in a while because our brains are constantly flipping through patient care tasks.

I did a social media break challenge for one week.

My experiment started easily enough. But just like clockwork the minute I stopped paying attention my fingers automatically tried to pull up my Instagram or Facebook accounts. Apparently, my social media addiction was more ingrained than I thought.

My plan required increased preventative measures to ensure success. So I went a step further and deleted both the Instagram and Facebook apps off my phone. That way if I wanted to use the apps I would actually have to sign in via the internet and type in my password.

Wouldn’t you know, just the annoyance of having to type in my password was enough to remind me of why I had started this experiment in the first place.   I successfully created a barrier to help reinforce my social media addition recovery! (Nurses are solution finders, what can I say!?).

Why nurses need a social media break

Do you remember what it feels like to not be constantly looking at your phone?

3 Reasons Why A Social Media Break Is Healthy For Nurses

#1.  It gives nurses an opportunity for more personal social engagement

A social media break can remind us to be more present with real people.  Sadly, social media is often not a real representation of what is going on in people’s personal lives. It is a magnification of what people want you to see: slivers of primarily positive information that appears flawless, effortless and often like never-ending, spontaneous fun (don’t we all want to project the best parts of ourselves?).

#2.  It can increase productivity in things that matter most.

To make my point on this I’m going to create a hypothetical, but totally realistic situation: Let’s say a nurse browses social media for 15 minutes a few times a day: once before getting out of bed, once during a break from work, a couple more times at lunch and then one more time before going to bed in the evening (for a lot of people I know, that is a conservative estimate).

Social media browsing may seem like a harmless habit. But if you add up the time over a seven day period you are talking about eight hours a week. Eight entire hours that you will never get back!  That is the same amount of time that non-nurses spend at work during a normal workday. Mindless internet and social media browsing can kill off the equivalent of almost 1 workday per week if you allow it to.

#3.  You may fall asleep earlier and have better overall sleep.

Cell phones emit bright blue light that is meant to stimulate the brain. By looking at a cell phone before bed it causes the brain to stop producing melatonin, which is the hormone that cues the brain that it’s time for slumber. As a result, smartphone light can disrupt the sleep cycle which makes it hard to fall and stay asleep.

Nurses already have to forfeit some sleep as part of the job, especially, mid-shift and night shift nurses. Interrupted or lack of quality sleep is linked to myriad health care related issues including many cancers, depression, and weight gain. In other words, better sleep = happy nurse.

Taking a social media break is a great way for nurses to give themselves a mental break.

We all need to chill out once in a while and let our minds wander. Let’s give our brains the space to do so.  Living a life of intention requires making conscious changes to habits that appear harmless on the outside.

Are you a nurse in need of a social media break?  What other habits do you have that are not serving you well? 

HEY NURSES!  Remember to sign up for your FREE COPY of “The Nurse’s Guide To Health & Self Care” E-book in the sign up box below! (scroll down)

Additional Recommended Reading:

7 Quick And Easy Workouts For Busy Nurses

7 Quick And Easy Workouts For Busy Nurses

This post for helping nurses find new quick and easy workouts that they can fit into even the busiest schedule.

Nurses know more then anyone that there are so many benefits to exercise.  It helps our minds, bodies and souls because it:

  • Helps to control weight
  • Reduces the risk of heart disease
  • Manages blood sugar and insulin levels
  • Improves your mental health and mood
  • Strengthens your bones and muscles
  • Improves your sleep
  • And most importantly, it releases hormones that make you feel good!

But as a busy nurse, it can be so hard to find time to exercise, especially since the average workout class lasts about 60 minutes.

The good news is that there are lots of workouts that can easily be done at home on your own time whenever you have a few free minutes. Below are seven ideas that will help you squeeze in a quick & effective workout with minimal equipment and time.

So, take off your scrubs, put on your workout clothes and get moving!

7 Quick And Easy Workouts For Busy Nurses

7 Quick And Easy Workouts For Busy Nurses

Here are 7 quick and easy workouts for nurses to fit into their busy schedules:

Bodyweight Exercises

Think you must to get to the gym and lift weights for an hour to get stronger? Think again!  As the name implies, bodyweight exercises use your bodyweight to build strength, no equipment necessary. Bodyweight workouts can focus on the upper or lower body or combine them both for a total body workout.

You’ll do moves such as push-ups, squats, lunges and tricep dips that rely on your body weight and proper form to work your muscles. These moves either don’t require equipment at all or can be done using items around your house, such as a sturdy chair. Some people also like to use an exercise mat to provide a bit more cushion.

Running

While running is often associated with training for a marathon or distance, it can also be a remarkably efficient workout for those who don’t want to spend hours exercising. Running for just 20 or 30 minutes will get your heart rate up and your blood pumping, and all it requires is a pair of supportive running shoes.

If the weather doesn’t permit you to run outside, see if you have access to a gym—even the smallest, most under-equipped workout room usually has at least one treadmill.  And if you dislike the repetitive nature of running, create a music playlist or download a compelling podcast so you can get two things done at once as you move.

Plyometrics

Plyometrics, also called jump training or plyo, is another form of an intense and efficient cardio workout. Exercises include the squat jump, tuck knee jump, lateral jump, power skipping, vertical jump, lunge jump and more. These explosive movements get your heart rate up and burn calories in a short amount of time.

A word of caution: The intensive nature of plyometrics means that this workout isn’t the best choice for everyone, especially those who have lower body or back issues or those who are new to working out. However, if you’re already in good cardiovascular shape—say, you’ve been running a lot and you’re looking for some variety—plyometrics is definitely worth checking out. Quick and Easy Workouts For Nurses

Kickboxing

Boxing requires a lot of equipment. You need a punching bag, gloves, hand wraps and so on. Certain versions of kickboxing simplify this approach, allowing you to practice without all the equipment (sort of like shadowboxing). As the name suggests, kickboxing focuses on powerful kicks, with the hands and feet being used as the main contact points.

This karate-inflected style can be used as self-defense, but it’s also a very popular workout class both online and in real life. If you’d like to get out some aggression and stress while getting in a workout, simply Google “at home kickboxing workout videos” and plenty of results will pop up. You may feel a little silly punching and kicking the air at first, but you’ll be sweating in no time!

Aerobics

Aerobics is a catch-all term that refers to any activity that strengthens the heart and lungs, such as walking and swimming. Some aerobic exercises require a lot of time or equipment–or both—but plenty of others can be done at home whenever you have a few minutes. Lots of online cardio workouts fall into the aerobics category and they often have a theme such as step or dance.

Classes usually range in length from 10 to 60 minutes, so you can choose whatever suits your schedule. Make sure you check that no equipment is required before deciding on an aerobics workout. Some don’t require anything at all besides tennis shoes, while others may use a step-up box, light hand weights or other small equipment.

Abs

In their original form, very few ab workouts require weights or other equipment (though you might want to use an exercise mat to provide a bit of cushion and keep you from slipping during core work). From planks to crunches to sit-ups to leg lifts to toe touches to oblique twists, there are literally dozens of ab exercises you can do at home whenever you have a few minutes free in your schedule.

If you need some inspiration, there are lots of ab workout videos available for free on YouTube to get you started.

Women doing bodyweight exercises

Body weight exercises are a fast and easy workout for busy nurses.

HIIT Workouts

High intensity interval training (HIIT) is more of an approach than a specific type of exercise. HIIT involves giving your maximum effort to exercise for a short period of time (usually less than a minute) followed by an even briefer rest period.

You may also have heard of Tabata, which is a specific type of HIIT workout that follows this pattern: eight rounds of 20 seconds of exercises at maximum effort and then 10 seconds of rest. HIIT can be used for bodyweight exercises, plyometrics, running—pretty much any workout you can think of. HIIT is a great way to shake up the pace of your workouts and increase their intensity and efficiency without eating up more of your precious time.

Now, its time to get moving!

If you’re a busy nurse who’s crunched for time (and really, who isn’t over scheduled these days?), check out one of these workouts to fit exercise into your day. Any workout is better than no workout, so even if you only have a few minutes, make them count!

HEY NURSES!  Remember to sign up for your FREE COPY of “The Nurse’s Guide To Health & Self Care” E-book in the sign up box below! (scroll down)

Recommended Reading:

About The Author

Debbie Swanson, Real Caregivers Program at allheart.com

Deborah Swanson is a Coordinator for the Real Caregivers Program at allheart.com, a site dedicated to celebrating medical professionals and their journeys. She keeps busy interviewing caregivers and writing about them and loves gardening

7 Easy Restorative Yoga Poses For Nurses

7 Easy Restorative Yoga Poses For Nurses

7 Easy Restorative Yoga Poses For Nurses

7 yoga poses for nurses

Every nurse knows that the stress from patient care over a 12 hour shift can be exponential.  Yet many nurses aren’t giving themselves the tender loving kindness we give to our patients!  (I have written many times before about why nurses need to practice yoga).

Yoga is more then just exercise.  It offers caregivers a way to give themselves more self care (ahem, nurses!).  Furthermore, it helps nurses take even better care of our families, our patients and ourselves in the process.

Restorative yoga is a great way for nurses to reconnect with themselves and provide recovery for their bodies after the end of a 12 hour shift of caring for patients.

7 Easy Restorative Yoga Poses For Nurses

(The information on this post is not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease and is meant for educational and informational purposes only.   You should always consult your physician before starting any exercise program.  You can read my disclosure policy here.)

Here are 7 easy and restorative yoga poses for nurses to help recover from the stress and physical ailments that plague hard working nurses.

#1.  Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Health benefits of Child’s Pose for nurses:

  • Releases tension in the back, shoulders and chest
  • Helps alleviate stress and anxiety
  • Stretches the spine
  • Relieves neck and lower back pain when performed with the head and torso supported
  • Gently stretches the hips, thighs and ankles (gently is the key)
  • Stretches muscles, tendons and ligaments in the knee
  • Calms the mind and body

#2.  Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)

Happy Baby Pose

Happy Baby Pose

Health benefits of Happy Baby Pose for nurses:

  • Opens hips, inner thighs, and groin
  • Releases lower back and sacrum
  • Stretches the hamstrings
  • Relieves lower back pain
  • Calms the brain
  • Helps to relieve stress and fatigue

#3.  Supine Spinal Twist(Jathara Parivartanasana)

Supine Spinal Twist

Supine Spinal Twist

Health benefits of Supine Spinal Twist for nurses:

  • Brings blood flow to the spine, hips and shoulders
  • Stretches the hips, glutes, abs, back, chest, shoulders and neck
  • Opens the upper body
  • Helps alleviate lower back pain
  • Helps correct poor posture

#4.  Reclined Goddess Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)

Reclined Goddess Pose

Reclined Goddess Pose

Health benefits of Reclined Goddess Pose for nurses:

  • Opens the shoulders & chest
  • Opens the groin, inner thighs, and hips
  • Helps relieve stress and anxiety

#6.  Legs Up The Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)

Legs Up The Wall Pose

Legs Up The Wall Pose

Health benefits of Legs Up The Wall Pose for nurses:

  • It reduces edema in the legs and feet
  • Relieves tired leg muscles
  • Helps reverse the effects of gravity and may help digestion
  • Calms the nervous system
  • Calms the mind

#7.  Supported Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

Supported Bridge Pose

Supported Bridge Pose

Benefits of Supported Bridge Pose for nurses:

  • Stretches and opens the chest, spine and hips
  • Improves circulation
  • Helps to relieve stress
  • Improves digestion and stimulates the abdominal organs.
  • Stimulates the thyroid gland
  • Reduces anxiety and fatigue
  • Helps relieve lower back pain
  • Calms the brain and nervous system

#8.  Dead Body Pose (Shavasana)

Dead Body Pose

Dead Body Pose

Benefits Of Dead Body Pose for nurses:

  • Relaxes the whole body
  • Calms the nervous system
  • Quiets the mind

In summary, yoga makes you feel good.  And you deserve it, nurse!

Nurses need to experience what it is like to fell good in our their own skin?  Yoga empowers nurses to create a happier, healthier and more productive work environment by making us the best version of ourselves.

For better or worse, nurses serve as role models in the healthcare community. We need to practice what we preach. Why would a patient listen to our advice on how to life a healthy life if we are not living one ourselves?

Here are a few tools to get you started in your yoga practice:

1.  Yoga Mat, by Yoga Nat

This is a great yoga mat.  The quality is very good for the price.  I have been using this exact one in my living room for the past two years and it is still looks new!  It is soft with a relatively nice thickness compared to other yoga mats I have tried.  In addition, it has grooves that keep the mat in place while in use.  It comes with a velcro carry strap for easy travel.

Yoga for nurses: yoga mat
Yoga for nurses: yoga mat

2.  Yoga Blocks

I love the cork Manduka yoga blocks because I have had mine for 6 years and they still look brand new.   Unlike foam blocks, these don’t disintegrate and tear over time due regular use.  They are also heavier and more sturdy with a trustworthy grip.  It is a good idea to purchase 2 because many yoga poses require the need for two blocks.

Yoga for nurses: yoga block
Yoga for nurses: cork yoga blocks

3.  Yoga Strap

Yoga straps are an easy way to inexpensively assist you into yoga poses.  This yoga strap is useful for all levels of yoga practice and can provide support, help with alignment and improve posture.

4.  Manduka yoga blocks (with strap included)

If you are going to purchase both cork blocks and the strap you can get a little bit of a discount by purchasing them as a bundle.

Yoga for nurses: yoga blocks and strap
Yoga for nurses: yoga blocks and strapHEY NURSES!  Remember to sign up for your FREE COPY of “The Nurse’s Guide To Health & Self Care” E-book in the sign up box below! (scroll down)

Additional Recommended Reading For Nurses Who Need More Self Care:

Are you a nurse looking for more self care?  What are you doing to take care of yourself?  Please leave a comment below!

Working Mom Health Tips For 12 Hour Shifts

Working Mom Health Tips For 12 Hour Shifts

This post is about working mom health tips for nurses working long 12 hour+ shifts.

Preparing for 12 hour shifts as a registered nurse requires some prearranged ground work and organization at home to ensure my day starts off on the right foot. As a working mom, I know I will be gone for a large chunk of time so I do my best to make sure things are properly set up at home the day before.

Additionally, as a ER nurse I know how important it is that I take good care of myself so I can continue to give the best possible care to my family and patients.  After all, I can’t expect others to listen to my health education if I don’t take my own advice and stay healthy too.  No excuses!

Working Mom sitting on kitchen floor with son

(This post contains affiliate links.  You can find my disclosure page here.)

My top 4 priorities for keeping myself and my family healthy as a nurse:

#1. Grocery shop and prepare all meals in advance

I grocery shop every three days so I am able to prepare meals for my toddlers and for each of my 12 hour shifts at the hospital in advance.  To avoid scrambling at the last minute I always make sure everything is ready and packaged to go the night before.

I prepare several options for the kids breakfasts, lunch and dinner including:

  • Avocado or almond toast
  • Bananas, apples, kiwis, various berries
  • Black bean or chick pea pasta
  • Cheese squares
  • Veggies straws with hummus
  • Veggie/fruit smoothies
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Sautéed veggies

In addition, one day per week I make a big batch of quinoa or brown rice and keep it handy in the fridge for quick meal preparation. When I need it, I add veggies, nuts, seeds, dried cranberries, olive oil, tempeh or whatever else I have in the fridge at that moment. This is so convenient because I can whip something up  quickly for my work lunches and I also have it on days I’m home with the kids.

The Nutribullet is by far my favorite meal prep tool.

To say I use it at least twice a day would be an understatement!  I can make everything from veggie smoothies, to salad dressings, to soups and blended coffee drinks.  It makes my life so much easier, especially now that we have kids and time is limited!

The Nutribullet is one of the best inventions of the 21st century I tell you!

I have a vegetable and berry smoothie with 1 tablespoon of Maca powder, flax seed and/or hemp seeds for protein, and acai powder. I alternate my veggies between broccoli, spinach or kale. For the berry part: strawberries, blueberries and raspberries although sometimes I’ll add half a banana or mango.


I also make several mason jars (16oz) of overnight oats on Sundays with a variation of flavors:

  • blueberry/strawberry/raspberry
  • peanut butter and maple
  • banana and walnut
  • almond and raisin

Then I’ll either add ground flax seeds or chia seeds for extra protein and antioxidant benefit. And I’ll top with a dash of cinnamon. These make such an easy breakfast to go!

Mason jars make breakfast healthy and easy.

#2. Sleep as much as possible before a 12 hour shift

Let’s be honest, 12 hour shifts usually end up being closer to 14+ at the end of the day.  And, many studies show that working 12 hour shifts is damaging to nurse health due to the length of time that nurses end up working.  In fact, an increased risk of depression, anxiety, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and even some cancers have all been researched and publicized.

Since the shifts are not getting shorter anytime soon, the best thing that nurses can do to take care of themselves is rest as much as possible before shifts.  Therefore, I make it a huge priority to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep before shifts.  (This was so much easier before we had kids!)

A few things I use to help me sleep better at night:

    • Eye mask and ear plugs. After having kids I realized that I am am incredibly light sleeper.  In fact, even the slightest noises wake me up in the middle of the night.  Sometimes I have difficulty failing back asleep again, which is so frustrating when I work a 12 hour shift in the morning.
    • Restorative yoga poses. I keep a yoga pillow and a yoga mat right next to my bed that I use for restorative yoga poses about 20 minutes before I try to go to sleep.  It helps me decompress my from my day, check in with myself and put me into a snugly and sleepy mood.

A yoga pillow is great for restorative yoga poses!

I keep a yoga mat next to my bed for early morning and night yoga stretches.

HEY NURSES!  Remember to sign up for your FREE COPY of “The Nurse’s Guide To Health & Self Care” E-book in the sign up box below! 

#3 Get regular exercise on the off days

I always feel so much better when I get my heart rate up on my days off. The benefits of exercise have been well documented; it is essential for nurse self care.  It is no secret that regular exercise helps control weight, boosts overall energy, improves your mood and decreases stress levels.  Not only does exercise benefit the nurse personally, but it also helps nurses have the stamina to give better care to patients as well.

Need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A yoga session or brisk 30-minute walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed.  Which, in turn, will help manage caregiver burden and help you feel your best.

For me personally, yoga has been a total game changer for my stress levels.  But it’s also great to change up the routine a bit, and I enjoy escaping with my headphones for a run and listening to music.  Whatever you do is great, as long as you actually do it!

A blue tooth headset is great to use for a run or brisk walk.

#4.  Wear compression socks

Those who know me know I’m fanatical about compression socks.  Wearing compression stockings helped me work all the way through two pregnancies and I continue to wear them to this day.  They help keep your legs energized, prevent varicose veins, and keep your ankles and feet from getting so swollen after being on your feet all day.  Plus, they come in the cutest styles now.

Compression socks will save your legs and feet!

Being a nurse and mom is already hard enough.

But with a little preparation and focus on your personal well-being and time management you can be both a healthy nurse and mom and give great care to your patients.  It’s time to focus on nurse self care!

HEY NURSES!  Remember to sign up for your FREE COPY of “The Nurse’s Guide To Health & Self Care” E-book in the sign up box below! (scroll down)

Additional Recommended Reading

Working Mom health tips for 12 hour shifts