Understanding the Challenges of Mental Wellness in the Nursing Profession
In the noble profession of nursing, the importance of mental wellness cannot be overstated. Nurses are not only responsible for caring for patients’ physical health but also play a vital role in supporting their emotional well-being. However, in the midst of their compassionate service, nurses often face numerous challenges that can take a toll on their own mental health.
This article aims to shed light on these challenges and provide strategies for promoting mental wellness among nurses, ensuring they receive the care they so selflessly provide to others.
The Challenges of Stress, Burnout, and High Workload in Nursing
Stress and burnout are major challenges in the nursing profession. Nurses often face long hours, heavy workloads, and emotional strain, leading to high levels of stress. This can result in physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion known as burnout. Inadequate staffing, intense patient care responsibilities, and lack of breaks contribute to these issues.
Stress and burnout have negative consequences for both nurses and patient care. They can lead to decreased job performance, increased absenteeism, and high turnover rates. Burned-out nurses are more likely to make errors, compromising patient safety. They also experience poorer physical and mental health.
Emotional Demands and Compassion Fatigue
Nursing involves emotionally demanding situations, such as dealing with critically ill patients, end-of-life care, and supporting patients and their families through challenging circumstances. Constant exposure to these emotional stressors can lead to compassion fatigue, where nurses experience emotional exhaustion and reduced empathy.
Recognizing the Signs of Mental Health Issues in Nurses
Nurses, like anyone else, are susceptible to mental health issues. Understanding the common challenges they may face, such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), is essential. Being able to recognize the warning signs and symptoms is crucial in identifying when a nurse may be struggling with their mental health.
Some warning signs of mental health issues may include:
- Social withdrawal
- Low functioning at work
- Concentration, memory, and logical thinking or speech issues
- Heightened sensitivity to sights, sounds, smells, or touch
- Loss of motivation
- Feeling disconnected from oneself or surroundings
- Unusual or exaggerated beliefs about personal abilities
- Fear or suspicion of others
- Displaying peculiar behavior
- Significant changes in sleep, appetite, or personal care
- Rapid or dramatic mood swings
Early identification and intervention can have a significant impact on their overall well-being and their ability to provide high-quality care. Changes in behavior, mood swings, withdrawal, and decreased job performance can be indicators of underlying mental health issues. Physical symptoms like fatigue, sleep disturbances, and appetite changes may also accompany mental health concerns.
By being vigilant and observant, early identification becomes possible, enabling timely intervention. This proactive approach can have a profound impact on the nurse’s well-being and their ability to consistently deliver high-quality care.
Strategies for Promoting Mental Wellness in the Nursing Profession
Encourage Open Communication and Empathy
Creating a supportive work environment is paramount in nurturing the mental wellness of nurses. By encouraging open communication and empathy, we can foster a culture of understanding and support. Reducing stigma surrounding mental health ensures that nurses feel safe seeking help when needed. Promoting work-life balance and self-care empowers nurses to prioritize their well-being, ensuring they have the resilience to face the challenges they encounter daily.
Provide Education and Training on Mental Health
Increase awareness and knowledge about mental health
Offer educational programs and workshops that focus on mental health awareness, self-care strategies, stress management techniques, and resilience-building exercises.
Help develop coping skills and resilience
Equip nurses with practical tools and resources to manage stress, enhance coping mechanisms, and foster resilience in the face of challenging situations.
Offer resources and support services
Ensure nurses have access to confidential counseling services, employee assistance programs, and mental health resources to address their specific needs.
Implement Organizational Policies and Practices
Have adequate staffing and workload management
Ensure that staffing levels are sufficient to manage patient loads effectively, helps reduce the burden on nurses and helps prevent burnout.
Give regular breaks and rest periods
Establish policies that prioritize regular breaks and rest periods, allowing nurses time to recharge and rejuvenate.
Offer employee assistance programs and counseling services
Provide access to professional mental health support services, counseling, and resources helps assist nurses in managing their mental well-being effectively.
Collaborate and Help Provide Support Systems
Collaboration between nurses and healthcare organizations plays a vital role in promoting mental wellness within the nursing profession. When nurses and their employers work together, they can create an environment that places a high value on mental well-being and provides the necessary support systems.
Peer support programs and mentorship opportunities are instrumental in fostering a sense of connection and solidarity among nurses. These initiatives allow nurses to share their experiences, challenges, and successes with colleagues who understand the unique demands of the profession. Through peer support, nurses can find comfort, guidance, and empathy, which can significantly contribute to their overall mental well-being.
Furthermore, partnerships with mental health professionals are essential for ensuring that specialized care is readily available when needed. Collaborating with mental health experts enables healthcare organizations to offer targeted interventions, counseling services, and resources specifically tailored to the needs of nurses. This collaboration ensures that nurses have access to professional help and guidance should they experience mental health challenges.
Promote Self-Care and Mindfulness
Self-care is crucial for nurses to maintain their well-being and effectively manage the demands of their profession. By prioritizing self-care, nurses can prevent burnout, reduce stress levels, enhance job satisfaction, and improve their overall physical and mental health. Here are strategies for practicing self-care:
Nurses should focus on regular exercise to promote physical fitness and relieve stress. Engaging in activities like walking, jogging, or yoga can help improve cardiovascular health and boost energy levels. Proper nutrition, including a balanced diet and staying hydrated, is also essential. Adequate sleep is crucial for rest and rejuvenation, so establishing a consistent sleep routine is important.
Managing stress is vital for nurses. They can practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or mindfulness exercises to reduce anxiety and promote emotional well-being. Engaging in hobbies or activities that bring joy and relaxation is also beneficial. Seeking support from peers, friends, or professional counselors can provide emotional outlets and aid in coping with challenging situations.
Nurturing healthy relationships is key to self-care. Maintaining connections with family, friends, and colleagues can provide emotional support and a sense of belonging. Engaging in social activities, participating in support groups, or joining professional organizations can foster a sense of community and provide opportunities for networking and mentorship.
The Role of Leadership in Promoting Mental Wellness
Leadership plays a vital role in fostering a culture of well-being within the nursing profession. Leaders have a lot of influence in shaping the nursing work environment and it is essential that they prioritize and promote the mental wellness of the nursing workforce.
To create a mentally healthy workplace, implementing the following supportive leadership practices and initiatives can be helpful:
Have regular check-ins and ask for feedback
- Conduct regular check-ins to address concerns, provide feedback, and offer support.
- Actively listen to nurses’ needs and concerns to foster a culture of open communication.
Recognize and celebrate accomplishments
- Acknowledge and appreciate the hard work and dedication of nurses.
- Celebrate milestones and achievements to boost morale and motivation.
Promoting professional growth and development
- Support nurses’ professional growth through opportunities for training, continuing education, and career advancement.
- Provide access to resources that enhance their knowledge and skills.
The Bottom Line
Prioritizing the mental wellness of nurses is crucial for their personal well-being, job satisfaction, and the quality of patient care. By understanding the challenges they face and makin necessary changes, we can establish an environment that fosters and supports the mental wellness of nurses.
Let’s come together in our collective commitment to prioritize the mental health of those who dedicate themselves to healing others, thereby ensuring a healthier and happier nursing workforce that positively impacts patient outcomes.
Additional Recommended Reading:
Nurse Health: Self-Care For 12-Hour Shifts
*Post contains affiliate links/Updated from 2/2/18
Are you a dedicated nurse working tirelessly through long 12-hour shifts? Your commitment to this noble and philanthropic profession is truly admirable. However, as with many shift workers, you may sometimes feel drained, overwhelmed, and even burnt out.
It’s no secret that working 12-hour shifts can take a significant toll on your physical and mental well-being. But what steps are you taking to prioritize your health and thrive in your career?
By taking a proactive approach to self-care and making it a top priority, you can ensure that you remain a healthy and effective nurse, delivering exceptional care to your patients. It’s time to invest in your own well-being and prioritize nurse self-care.
Thriving, Not Just Surviving: 11 Tips for Nurses on 12-Hour Shifts
Nurse self-care should be a priority. That includes getting a good night’s sleep!
Nurses are at the forefront of 24/7 patient care, and this means that their work schedules often involve long day and night shifts that can result in sleep deprivation.
However, it’s crucial for nurses to prioritize their own well-being by getting a good night’s rest after completing a demanding 12-hour shift.
Here are a few tips that can help nurses establish healthier sleep habits:
⇒ Unwind Without Screen Time
Avoid watching television or scrolling through your phone before going to bed. Instead, opt for relaxing activities that can calm your mind and body, such as reading a book or listening to soft music.
⇒ Stretch and Soothe
Ease into a state of relaxation with some gentle yoga stretches. Restorative yoga props such as a mat, blocks, and a yoga strap can help enhance the experience and promote deeper relaxation.
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⇒ Take a Hot Shower or Bath
A warm shower can help soothe your muscles, reduce tension, and promote a night of more restful sleep.
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Consider using a meditation app such as Headspace to help clear your mind and reduce stress. Taking just a few minutes to meditate before bed can help you feel more relaxed and ready for a restful night’s sleep.
⇒ Block Out Distractions
Invest in a good pair of earplugs and a sleep mask to help minimize any noise or light that might disrupt your sleep.
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⇒ Go to Bed an Hour Earlier
Try to adjust your bedtime routine by getting into bed an hour earlier than usual. This small change can help you establish a healthier sleep schedule and reap the benefits of a more restful night’s sleep. Give it a try for one week and notice how much better you feel both mentally and physically.
By prioritizing nurse self-care and adopting these simple yet effective sleep habits, nurses can ensure they are well-rested and energized for their next shift, ready to provide the best possible care for their patients.
Nurse, get your heart rate up!
Regular exercise is a vital component of nurse self-care that can have a significant impact on physical and mental well-being. Not only does exercise help maintain a healthy weight, but it also boosts overall energy levels, improves mood, and reduces stress.
Additionally, exercise can help nurses maintain the stamina needed to provide top-quality care for their patients. (Make sure you talk you your healthcare provider before starting a new exercise routine, especially if you have health concerns).
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Here are some ideas to keep in mind when incorporating exercise into your nurse self-care routine:
- Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on most days of the week. This can include activities such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming.
- Don’t have 30 minutes to spare? Try breaking up your exercise routine into shorter, more manageable segments throughout the day. Even a 10-minute walk can provide physical and mental benefits.
- Make exercise a social activity. Consider joining a workout class or finding a workout buddy to help keep you motivated and accountable.
- Mix up your routine. Incorporate a variety of exercises such as strength training, cardio, and stretching to keep things interesting and challenge your body in different ways.
- Take advantage of outdoor exercise opportunities. Spending time in nature has been shown to have numerous mental health benefits, such as reducing stress and anxiety.
- Don’t forget to warm up and cool down properly to prevent injury and promote recovery.
In addition to its physical benefits, exercise can also help manage stress and reduce caregiver burden. Yoga and other mindfulness practices can be particularly effective in this regard. These types of exercises focus on deep breathing and relaxation techniques, which can help reduce stress and promote a sense of calm and well-being.
By incorporating regular exercise into their nurse self-care routine, nurses can improve their overall health and well-being, better manage stress and caregiver burden, and maintain the stamina needed to provide exceptional care for their patients. So, take the time to get your heart rate up on your days off – it is a win-win for everyone.
#3. Grocery Shop For Healthy Shift Food
A well-balanced diet is essential for nurse health and wellness.
Grocery shopping is so important for nurses and other hospital workers to ensure proper nutrition. It is no secret that healthy food choices are crucial for overall good health and well-being. Make sure you are filling your plate with high-density vitamins and minerals. You simply can’t maintain good energy and stamina over a 12-hour shift on sugary snacks and fast food!
Plan ahead by creating a grocery list of the foods you want to eat while you are at work. That way, you won’t be tempted to reach for something unhealthy when you have a few moments to eat in-between caring for patients.
Tips for nurses to make healthy meals fast: Try making a big batch of quinoa, brown rice, or black bean pasta to have handy in the fridge. These are a few great staples that you can build a nourishing meal around. When you get hungry, you can mix in a protein, veggies, nuts or seeds, dried fruits, or even just enjoy them with a little olive oil and sea salt.
The key is to have healthy food that is easy to prepare BEFORE you get super hungry.
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Here are healthy snacks that nurses can eat during 12-hour shifts to help sustain energy levels:
- Fresh fruit: Apples, bananas, oranges, and berries are all great options for a quick, healthy snack that provides natural sugars for energy.
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, cashews, peanuts, and pumpkin seeds are all great sources of protein and healthy fats that can help keep energy levels stable.
- Greek yogurt: A high-protein snack that can be topped with fruit or nuts for extra flavor and nutrition.
- Hummus and vegetables: Carrots, celery, cucumber, and bell peppers are all great options for dipping in hummus, which is high in protein and fiber.
- Hard-boiled eggs: A quick and easy snack that provides protein and healthy fats to help keep you full and energized.
- Energy bars: Look for bars made with whole food ingredients, such as nuts, seeds, and dried fruit, to provide sustained energy without artificial ingredients or added sugars.
- Cheese and whole-grain crackers: A small serving of cheese and crackers can provide protein and complex carbohydrates to help sustain energy levels.
- Smoothies: Blend up a combination of fruit, leafy greens, protein powder, and healthy fats for a nutrient-dense snack that can be easily consumed on the go.
- Popcorn: Air-popped popcorn is a low-calorie snack that provides fiber and complex carbohydrates to help keep energy levels stable.
- Roasted chickpeas: A crunchy, high-protein snack that can be flavored with a variety of spices for added flavor and nutrition.
By choosing nutrient-dense snacks that provide a balance of protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats, nurses can help sustain their energy levels and avoid the mid-shift energy crash.
Additionally, staying hydrated by drinking water or herbal tea throughout the shift can also help maintain energy and focus.
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#4. Eat A Healthy Breakfast
Oats: a nutritious and easy way to start a 12-hour shift.
Did you know that starting your day with a nutritious breakfast can have a big impact on your 12-hour shift? Studies have shown that a healthy breakfast can provide you with more strength and endurance to:
- Keep up with physical activity
- Maintain stamina throughout the day
- Improve concentration, and
- Provide a diet rich in essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
As a nurse, it’s important to take care of yourself, and preparing a nutritious breakfast before your shift is a great way to start.
One easy and delicious option is to make overnight oats in mason jars with a variety of flavors, such as:
- Peanut butter and maple
- Banana and walnut, or
- Almond and raisin
You can also add ground flaxseed or chia seeds for extra protein and antioxidant benefits. And don’t forget to top it off with a dash of cinnamon for some added flavor!
By taking the time to prepare a nutritious breakfast, you’ll have the energy and focus needed to provide the best possible care to your patients throughout your 12-hour shift. So give it a try and see how it can make a difference in your day!
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#5. Pack Your Lunch
Healthy nurse habit: pack your lunch!
As a nurse, it’s essential to fuel your body with nutritious food to keep you energized throughout your 12-hour shift. Bringing a packed lunch not only helps you make healthy food choices, but it can also save you money in the long run.
Here are some items that can make packing your lunch for work easier and more enjoyable:
- Insulated lunch bag to keep your food fresh and at a safe temperature
- Bento box for portion control and organization of your meals
- Ice holder to keep perishable items like yogurt and fruit cool
- Hot and cold containers for soups, salads, and other dishes
- Mason jars for preparing overnight oats or salads
- Insulated coffee cup to keep your coffee or tea warm
- Reusable water bottle to keep you hydrated throughout the day
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When packing your lunch, try to include a balance of lean protein, whole grains, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Some healthy options include:
- Grilled chicken or turkey breast
- Quinoa or brown rice
- Baby carrots or sugar snap peas
- Greek yogurt or cottage cheese
- Apple slices or berries
- Mixed nuts or seeds
By packing your lunch and choosing nutritious options, you’ll have the energy and focus to provide excellent patient care. Plus, you’ll feel good knowing that you’re taking care of yourself too!
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#6. Incorporate Healthy Snacks Into Your Shift
Almonds: a healthy nurse snack!
As a hardworking nurse, you deserve to have the energy to make it through your 12-hour shift without relying on sugary snacks in the breakroom. While it may be tempting to indulge in those donuts or cookies, there are healthier options that will keep you fueled and focused throughout the day.
Here are some snack ideas that are easy to pack to maintain energy:
- Crunchy baby carrots, broccoli, or other veggies with a side of hummus for protein
- Celery sticks with almond butter for a satisfying combination of healthy fat and fiber
- Fresh strawberries and blueberries for a sweet and nutritious pick-me-up
- Granola and yogurt for a quick and filling snack
- Almonds or cashews for a protein-packed option
- Avocado toast for a tasty and satisfying snack
- Sliced apples with peanut butter for a classic and delicious combination
- Cottage cheese with pineapple or banana for a protein-rich and refreshing snack
- Trail mix with nuts, dried fruit, and seeds for a convenient and tasty option.
By bringing your own nutritious snacks to work, you can fuel your body and brain without experiencing the sugar crashes that come with breakroom donuts.
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#7. Switch Your Caffeine Source
Green tea: a healthy drink for 12-hour shift workers!
Green tea is a popular beverage that is enjoyed all over the world, and for good reason! Here are some reasons why green tea is a healthy choice:
⇒ Rich in Antioxidants
Green tea is loaded with antioxidants called catechins that help to protect your body from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cells and contribute to aging and diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. The antioxidants in green tea help to neutralize these harmful molecules and keep your body healthy.
⇒ Boosts Brain Function
Green tea contains caffeine, a natural stimulant that can help to improve brain function, including memory, reaction time, and mood. Additionally, green tea contains an amino acid called L-theanine, which has a calming effect on the brain and can help to reduce stress and anxiety.
⇒ It may Aid in Weight Loss
Green tea has been shown to boost metabolism, which can help to increase calorie burning and aid in weight loss. It also contains a compound called EGCG, which has been shown to help break down fat and reduce the formation of new fat cells.
⇒ Supports Heart Health
Drinking green tea regularly has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease. It may help to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, reduce blood pressure, and improve blood flow, all of which can contribute to a healthy heart.
Incorporating green tea into your daily routine is a simple way to boost your health and well-being. Whether you enjoy it hot or iced, with honey or lemon, green tea is a delicious and healthy choice that you can feel good about.
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#8. Wear Supportive Shoes
Nurses must invest in good shoes to maintain foot health.
As a nurse, your job demands long hours on your feet, and it is crucial to take good care of them. Choosing the right shoes can make a huge difference in your comfort and well-being during and after your shifts. Here are some reasons why wearing good shoes is essential for nurses:
⇒ Comfort: Wearing comfortable shoes is a must for any nurse who wants to work without experiencing any foot pain, leg cramps, or backaches. Good shoes offer proper cushioning and arch support, which reduces the pressure on your feet and legs.
⇒ Safety: Wearing the right shoes can also help prevent slips, trips, and falls in the workplace. Shoes with non-slip soles will provide a better grip on slippery floors, decreasing the risk of accidents and injuries.
⇒ Durability: The right pair of shoes can also withstand the demands of the job. Investing in a pair of durable and well-made shoes will ensure that they last longer and need to be replaced less often.
⇒ Style: Good shoes can be stylish too! You don’t have to sacrifice fashion for function. Many brands now offer shoes that are both comfortable and stylish, so you can feel good and look good at the same time.
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The Nike Women’s Air Zoom Pegasus Running Shoes have great cushioning and are often worn by runners training for and running in marathons. They have great cushion and arch support without being too heavy.
Also, the cushion provides additional support for the knees and ankles. That is why these shoes are also great for nurses who often walk 15,000-20,000 steps or more in a single shift. There are over 25 other great colors to choose from.
#9. Stay Hydrated: Keep a Reusable Water Bottle
Drink water throughout your 12-hour shift and stay hydrated!
Have you ever worked an entire shift and realized at the end that you forgot to drink water for the whole day? It is so easy to do when you are extremely busy with back-to-back patients and heavy work assignments.
Invest in a good water bottle with a sealable lid (to prevent accidental spillage). Keep it where you do most of your charting in the nurse’s station. And try to make it a priority to drink your water every hour during your shift to stay hydrated.
Here are some of the most important reasons why nurses (and all healthcare workers) should drink water during their shifts:
⇒ Dehydration can cause a range of negative effects, including headaches, fatigue, dizziness, confusion, and muscle cramps.
⇒ Drinking water can help keep nurses alert and focused, which is crucial in a fast-paced, high-pressure healthcare environment.
⇒ Staying hydrated may help prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs), which can be a problem for people who are not drinking enough fluids. UTIs can be particularly uncomfortable and disruptive for nurses, who may not have easy access to bathroom breaks during their shifts.
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Make your own chia seed water: Add 3 tbsp of organic chia seeds to your water bottle and mix well (you can add more or less to your liking). Within a few hours, the seeds will blow up in size and into a gelatinous consistency.
(Chia seeds are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, rich in antioxidants, fiber, iron, and calcium. Just another easy way to add nutrients to your busy day!)
#10. Wear compression socks
Nurse health & your venous system: wear compression socks!
Compression socks or stockings are non-negotiable for healthcare workers who are on their feet for 12-hour shifts! Here are three fundamental reasons why compression socks are a must-have for every shift worker:
- Prevention of varicose veins: Standing for extended periods causes valves in the veins to become weakened, causing blood to collect in the veins. This causes the veins to enlarge, increase in pressure and stretch, causing unsightly varicose veins.
- Improved blood flow and decreased risk of blood clots: 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.
- Decreased swelling of ankles and feet: Swollen ankles and feet are a common side effect of being on one’s feet for a 12-hour shift.
Many nurses who wear compression socks say that their legs “feel more energized” after a 12-hour shift. Pregnant shift workers are especially at risk of leg swelling (due to increased blood volumes during pregnancy) and should consider wearing them to prevent venous issues.
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#11. Do Yoga
Nurses need to practice yoga for self-care.
Nurses need yoga, period. Not only does yoga replenishes depleted reserves after a 12-hour shift, but a relaxed and more focused nurse can give better patient care.
Yoga’s amazing benefits on physical and mental health are well documented in the literature. The Mayo Clinic reports that “yoga may help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and lower your heart rate,” among many other benefits.
Nurse self-care in the form of yoga is scientifically proven to be beneficial:
A study published in the National Institute of Biotechnology Information investigated the effects of yoga on stress coping strategies of ICU nurses. After only eight weeks of yoga, the results showed that the participating ICU nurses had significantly better focus coping strategies and a major reduction in perceived mental pressure.
Prevent or eliminate chronic low back pain.
Chronic back pain in the nursing population is a common ailment. An evidenced-based review at the Texas Women’s University reported that estimates of chronic low back pain among nurses range from 50%-80%. Yoga not only increases flexibility but increases muscle strength and prevents injuries such as chronic lower back pain.
Prevent burnout and compassion fatigue.
A study published in Workplace Health & Safety on yoga for self-care and burnout prevention of nurses found that yoga participants “reported significantly higher self-care as well as less emotional exhaustion upon completion of an 8-week yoga intervention.”
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Nurse Health & Self Care for Nurses Frequently Asked Questions
What is self-care as a nurse?
Self-care for nurses involves intentional actions that promote physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. It’s a way for nurses to prioritize their own health and wellness so that they can continue to provide effective care for their patients.
What is an example of an effective self-care strategy for a nurse?
An effective self-care strategy for a nurse could be taking regular breaks during their shift to stretch, hydrate, or engage in a calming activity such as deep breathing. Another example could be making time for activities outside of work that they enjoy, such as exercise, reading, or spending time with loved ones.
Why is self-care important for nurses?
Self-care is important for nurses because it helps prevent burnout, reduces stress, and improves overall job satisfaction. When nurses take care of themselves, they are better able to provide high-quality care to their patients.
What are the four basics of self-care?
The four basics of self-care are eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, engaging in regular physical activity, and managing stress.
What are three examples of self-care?
Three examples of self-care could be taking a relaxing bath, going for a walk in nature, or practicing meditation or yoga.
Why do nurses lack self-care?
Nurses often lack self-care because they are so focused on caring for others that they neglect their own needs. Additionally, many nurses work long hours and have demanding schedules, which can make it difficult to find time for self-care.
What are the seven pillars of self-care?
The seven pillars of self-care are sleep, nutrition, physical activity, hygiene, social connection, stress management, and spiritual practice.
What are the ABCS of self-care?
The ABCs of self-care are Awareness, Balance, Connection, and Support. These elements are essential for maintaining a healthy self-care practice.
What are the five domains of self-care?
The five domains of self-care are physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, and professional.
What is a nurse’s barrier to self-care?
A nurse’s barrier to self-care could be a lack of time, resources, or support. Additionally, some nurses may feel guilty for taking time for themselves instead of focusing on their patients.
How can nurses prevent burnout?
Nurses can prevent burnout by practicing effective self-care, setting realistic expectations, seeking support from colleagues and loved ones, and making time for activities outside of work that they enjoy.
Why is nursing the hardest job?
Nursing is considered one of the hardest jobs because it is physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding. Nurses are often required to work long hours and deal with high levels of stress, while also providing compassionate care to patients who may be in pain or distress.
What is the highest form of self-care?
The highest form of self-care is to cultivate a sense of self-compassion and self-love. This involves treating yourself with kindness and understanding, and prioritizing your own well-being in a way that feels authentic and fulfilling.
Additional Recommended Reading:
Don’t Sacrifice Your Leg Health For 12-Hour Nursing Shifts
*Post contains affiliate links/Updated from 12/2018
If there is one profession that needs compression socks, it’s nurses (or any healthcare professional who is on their feet for long shifts). Knee high compression socks are beneficial for leg health for the following reasons:
- Prevent or reduce varicose veins
- Improve the flow of blood and decrease the risk of blood clots
- Decrease or prevent swelling of the lower legs and ankles
Compression socks always improved my lower leg muscle fatigue and made my legs feel more energized at the end of a shift. I started wearing them to have more support when I was pregnant and was able to continue working as an ER nurse until I was almost eight and a half months pregnant.
I have always appreciated that my job as a medical professional is not sedentary. But as it turns out, being on my feet for such long hours can be worse for my health than sitting all day. Compression therapy is one of the best ways for many nurses to prevent some of the chronic leg health issues that come with working in a profession that requires being on your feet all day (hello, nurses!)
How We Chose the Best Compression Socks For Nurses & Healthcare Workers
We chose these top-rated compression socks for nurses based on factors like comfort, durability, prevention of foot odor, and any additional features like arch support, padding in sensitive areas, and breathable fabric. We also considered customer reviews and ratings to ensure that nurses are getting the best socks for their needs. So, whether you need something lightweight and breathable or want a bit more cushioning with your socks, we’ve got you covered!
We hope you enjoy your selection of compression socks and that they help you to stay comfortable and healthy on the job.
The Best Compression Socks for Nurses and Medical Professionals
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Why We Love Them
Physix Gear Sport Compression Socks are designed with a unique blend of spandex and nylon that offers superior comfort for long shifts on your feet. The 20-30 mmHg pressure rating ensures that you get the right amount of support to help reduce swollen legs and feet. They’re also breathable, moisture-wicking, and feature an antibacterial finish to help you stay fresh during the day. Plus, they come in a variety of fun colors and patterns so you can show off your style.
- Made of 70% Nylon and 30% Spandex
- Hand wash only
- Designed for style and confidence on your legs
- Double-stitched fabric for durability and comfort
- Compression and support located on the heel, foot, and calves for maximum benefits
- Moisture-wicking properties for rapid air drying
- Stay-put cuffs for a soothing feeling at the bottom and sides of the foot with no pinching
- Washable with quality Lycra fabric built for durability
- Provides shock absorption to reduce fatigue and swelling in your lower leg.
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♥ Over 70,000 Customer Reviews & Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Why We Love Them
These compression socks are available in various colors, sizes, and compression levels to suit your needs. And because it comes in packs of seven, you have fun styles for every day of the week without needing to do the wash.
♥ Over 70,000 Customer Reviews & Rating: 4.5 out of 5
- Get a multicolor combo of your choice with these compression socks. Perfect for a whole week without daily wash.
- Made of 85% nylon and 15% spandex, these socks deliver 360-degree stretch for greater flexibility and durability.
- Compression is proven to allow you to move faster, react quicker, and use less energy. These socks provide varying levels of support, from moderate to extra firm, with targeted compression zones.
- The breathable, high-performance fabric keeps an optimal temperature, ensuring your comfort all day long.
- These socks make a great gift choice for joggers, athletes, workout fanatics, office workers, or anyone who uses their legs extensively.
- Shop with confidence, knowing that this product comes with a money-back guarantee. Whether you work long hours standing on your feet or have a fitness lifestyle, these compression socks are necessary.
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♥ Over 16,000 Customer Reviews & Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Why We Love Them
FITRELL 3 Pairs Compression Socks offer superior comfort and support. Their graduated compression helps to improve circulation and reduce swelling, while the ergonomic design ensures a secure fit. The breathable fabric is designed to keep you cool and dry all day long, while the reinforced heel and toe provide extra durability. Plus, with a money-back guarantee, you can be sure you’re getting the highest quality product.
- Material: 72.1% polyamide, 18.4% polyester, 9.5% spandex
- Machine washable
- Size Tips: Choose based on calf size for optimal compression (20-30 mmHg). Size down for tighter compression.
- Sizing options: S/M (Calf size 9-15in, Men’s US shoes 6-8.5, Women’s US shoes 7-9.5), L/XL (Calf size 14-16in, Men’s US shoes 9-12, Women’s US shoes 10-12)
- Moisture-wicking & Breathable: High-performance fabric with a moisture-wicking effect keeps feet dry and mesh design allows for breathability.
- Seamless toe reduces friction, and thick, soft cushions in the sole absorb shock and prevent overuse injuries.
- Circulation & Muscle Support: 5 zones of graduated compression boost venous flow, protect the Plantar Fascia, support the Achilles, improve circulation, and reduce swelling. Helps relieve shin splints, and painful joint and muscle stiffness, reduces fatigue, and treats varicose veins.
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♥ Over 50,000 Customer Reviews & Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Why We Love Them
SB SOX compression therapy socks provide a comfortable, snug fit that offers extra stability and support. These non-binding socks are ideal for running, walking, sports activities, and even 12-hour nursing shifts.
- The socks are made of 80% nylon and 20% spandex and are imported.
- These compression socks improve blood circulation and provide relief from leg pain, swelling, and fatigue. They are a must-have for anyone who needs such support.
- The socks are designed to be comfortable, lightweight, and breathable so that you can wear them all day long. The reinforced and cushioned heel and toe support ensure unmatched comfort.
- The graduated compression of these socks decreases swelling and fatigue in your feet and legs, making them ideal for any activity.
- Our socks are highly recommended by repeat customers who come back to buy another pair after trying them. We offer several different colors to choose from.
- To find your perfect fit, refer to our size chart (4th product image) and measure your calf circumference. We offer four different sizes to ensure the socks fit your feet and calves perfectly.
How do Compression Socks Work?
Compression socks work to improve blood circulation by helping increase the velocity or speed of blood flow. By squeezing 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 can move up the leg, but it has less area in which to move.
Compression socks work by:
Improving blood flow: The pressure applied by compression socks helps to improve blood flow in the legs, promoting better circulation and reducing the risk of blood clots.
Reducing swelling: Compression socks can help the legs by preventing fluid build up, particularly after long periods of sitting or standing. They may also help to relieve pain in the legs.
Providing support: Compression socks provide support to the muscles and joints in the legs, which can help to prevent or reduce injuries and improve athletic performance.
Decreases fatigue: Compression socks can reduce leg fatigue by improving blood flow and providing extra support, particularly during long periods of standing or physical activity.
Helps with recovery: Compression socks can also aid in muscle recovery after physical activity by reducing inflammation and improving circulation.
Medical compression stockings for the treatment of varicose veins.
Understanding Compression Sock Levels
Choosing the right compression socks can be difficult if you do not understand what a compression level means. Compression socks have a range of numbers to indicate how much graduated compression the garment has. Here is a quick and dirty breakdown:
- 15-20 mmHg
- Suitable for everyday wear to help with welling and fatigued legs due to long periods of travel, sitting, or standing.
- 20-30 mmHg
- Medical grade compression. Useful for managing swelling, spider veins, travel, sports, and after some surgeries. Also suitable for pregnant mothers to alleviate swelling and achy legs.
- 30-40 mmHg
- Recommended when you have a blood clot, deep vein thrombosis DVT, or lymphedema.
- 40-50 mmHg
- robust compression for severe venous stasis, wound management, and lymphedema.
The unit of measurement (mmHg) is called “millimeters of mercury,” which is a measurement of pressure, also used in blood pressure. It is a measurement of how tight the compression on your legs is.
The sweet spot for nurses and other medical professionals on their feet all day usually falls in the 20-30 mmHg range to ensure enough compression.
You should discuss compression stockings with your healthcare provider, especially if you have any medical conditions.
Keep in mind that you get what you pay for when it comes to good compression stocks. Generally speaking, with all products, if the price seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
Healthcare professionals should consider wearing compression socks.
Compressions Socks for Nurses and Healthcare Professionals Frequently Asked Questions
What do compression socks do for you?
Compression socks apply pressure to the legs, ankles, and feet, promoting blood oxygen flow and reducing swelling. They can improve circulation in the lower extremities, reduce muscle fatigue and soreness, prevent blood clots, and help manage conditions like varicose veins and lymphedema. If you have swollen feet and ankles or tired legs at the end of a shift, compression socks may help you. Talk to your healthcare provider to make sure there is not a more serious medical condition.
How many hours should you wear compression socks?
The recommended duration of compression sock wear varies depending on the reason for use. Talk to your doctor about what a safe level is for you. In general, it is safe to wear compression socks for up to 16 hours a day.
Is there a downside to wearing compression socks?
Compression socks can sometimes cause discomfort, skin irritation, or allergic reactions. Additionally, compression socks with too much pressure can potentially restrict blood flow instead of improving it. It is important to consult a healthcare provider before using compression socks.
What level of compression socks do I need?
The level of compression socks you need depends on your individual needs and the reason for use. Mild compression (8-15 mmHg) is typically used for preventative purposes, while moderate compression (15-20 mmHg) is used for mild swelling and varicose veins. Higher levels of compression, such as 20-30 mmHg or 30-40 mmHg, are typically used for more severe conditions and require a prescription.
What does 20-30 mmHg compression socks mean?
The term “20-30 mmHg” refers to the level of pressure exerted by the compression socks on the legs. This range of pressure is considered moderate to high and is typically used to treat conditions like deep vein thrombosis, varicose veins, and lymphedema.
What is the difference between 8-15 mmHg and 15-20 mmHg compression socks?
The main difference between 8-15 mmHg and 15-20 mmHg compression socks is the level of pressure they exert on the legs. 8-15 mmHg compression socks provide mild pressure, making them suitable for preventative use and for individuals who stand or sit for long periods. 15-20 mmHg compression socks provide moderate pressure, making them suitable for individuals with mild swelling or varicose veins.
How tight should 20-30 compression socks be?
20-30 mmHg compression socks should fit snugly, but not be overly tight or uncomfortable. The pressure should be evenly distributed along the legs, with the highest pressure at the ankle and gradually decreasing up the leg.
Can you sleep in 15-20 mmHg compression socks?
While it is generally safe to sleep in 15-20 mmHg compression socks, it is not recommended to do so without consulting a healthcare provider first. Some individuals may find compression socks uncomfortable to sleep in, and others may not need compression while lying down.
Do you need a prescription for 20-30 compression socks? In most cases, 20-30 mmHg compression socks require a prescription from a healthcare provider. However, some compression socks in this range may be available without a prescription, depending on the brand and intended use.
Where does the fluid go when you wear compression socks? Compression socks help to push fluid and blood from the legs back up to the heart. The pressure applied by the socks compresses the tissues in the legs and helps to reduce the diameter of the veins, improving blood flow and reducing swelling. The fluid and blood then circulate back through the body’s lymphatic system and are filtered out by the kidneys and liver.
Sacrificing Your Leg Health is Just Not Worth It.
Healthcare professionals such as nurses spend a lot of time on their feet and experience enough occupational hazards during a nursing shift as it is. Make sure you have on a pair of compression socks or stockings during every single shift. You can help to prevent future circulation and venous issues and still have a long, rewarding medical field career as a nurse.
Additional Recommended Reading:
Yoga For Nurses
*This post contains affiliate links.
Nurses, as dedicated healthcare professionals, often find themselves facing high levels of stress, physical demands, and emotional exhaustion. The demanding nature of their work, long hours, and exposure to distressing situations can take a toll on their overall well-being. This is precisely why nurses can greatly benefit from incorporating yoga into their lives. Yoga provides a holistic approach to self-care, offering numerous advantages for nurses both physically and mentally.
Physical Benifits of Yoga
Physically, the practice of yoga helps nurses maintain their strength, flexibility, and endurance, which are essential for their physically demanding job. The various asanas or poses in yoga help to improve posture, relieve muscle tension, and enhance overall body awareness.
By engaging in regular yoga sessions, nurses can alleviate chronic pain, prevent injuries, and improve their balance and coordination, enabling them to carry out their duties more effectively. Moreover, yoga encourages deep breathing and relaxation, reducing the physical symptoms of stress and promoting a state of calmness and rejuvenation.
Mental Benifits of Yoga
Mentally, yoga acts as a powerful tool for nurses to manage stress and promote emotional well-being. The mindfulness and meditation components of yoga allow nurses to cultivate present-moment awareness and develop resilience in the face of challenging situations. By focusing on their breath and practicing mindfulness, nurses can reduce anxiety, improve mental clarity, and enhance their ability to stay calm under pressure.
Additionally, yoga offers a space for self-reflection, allowing nurses to process their emotions, release tension, and restore inner balance. The practice also fosters a sense of community and connection as nurses can participate in group yoga classes, providing them with an opportunity to engage in self-care while building supportive relationships with colleagues. Ultimately, incorporating yoga into their lives empowers nurses to prioritize their well-being, leading to improved overall health and a more sustainable and fulfilling career in healthcare.
Nurses Must Care For Themselves First
Yoga’s amazing benefits for physical and mental health are well documented. The Mayo Clinic has stated that “yoga helps reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and lower your heart rate,” among several other benefits.
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 before about why nurses need to practice yoga if you are interested in reading).
Yoga is more than just exercise. It offers caregivers a way to give themselves more self-care (ahem, nurses). It helps us take even better care of our families, our patients, and ourselves.
Why Nurses Need Yoga And The Essential Props You Need To Start Your Practice- Mother Nurse Love
1. Stress Management
Nurses have a high workload in many hospital wards. The stress is compounded by managing patient healthcare needs and treatments, daily occupational stressors, and even the many frequent changes in technology.
A study published in the National Institute of Biotechnology Information investigated the effects of yoga on stress coping strategies of ICU nurses. After only eight weeks of yoga, the results showed that the participating ICU nurses had significantly better focus coping strategies and a major reduction in perceived mental pressure. If that is what can happen after only eight weeks, imagine the impact a regular, permanent yoga practice could have on stress management levels.
2. Prevent or Eliminate Chronic Low Back Pain
Chronic back pain in the nursing population is a common ailment. An evidenced-based review at the Texas Women’s University reported that estimates of chronic low back pain among nurses range from 50%-80%. Fortunately, the review also presented an overwhelming amount of studies that found that regular yoga significantly reduced symptoms associated with chronic low back pain and greatly improved overall physicality.
Yoga stretching not only increases flexibility but increases muscle strength and prevents injuries such as chronic lower back pain. In a career as physically demanding as nursing, the more physically stable we are, the better care we can give to ourselves and our patients.
3. Prevent Burnout and Compassion Fatigue
Lack of self-care can easily result in burnout and compassion fatigue in the nursing profession. As much as I hate to admit it, even I have questioned how long I can continue with the immense workload and emotional drain that is required of me as a nurse. Thankfully, I have found a productive way to manage this through yoga and meditation. They help reignite my passion for encouraging others to take better care of themselves.
A study published in Workplace Health & Safety on yoga for self-care and burnout prevention of nurses found that yoga participants “reported significantly higher self-care as well as less emotional exhaustion upon completion of an 8-week yoga intervention.” While the control group demonstrated no change throughout the course of the study, the yoga group showed a significant improvement in scores for self-care, mindfulness, and emotional exhaustion outcomes.
Yoga Props To Start Your Yoga Journey
I have practiced yoga pretty religiously for 12 years and have tried many different things along the way. These are a few of the yoga props I use at the studio and at home that is good for anyone starting their yoga journey.
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IUGA Yoga Block 2 Pack with Yoga Strap
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Yoga For Nurses Frequently Asked Questions
Why is yoga important for nurses?
‘Yoga is important for nurses because it offers a variety of physical, mental, and emotional benefits that can help manage the stress and demands of their profession. It provides relaxation, improves strength and flexibility, promotes mindfulness, and enhances overall well-being. These benefits can help nurses maintain their own health and better care for their patients.
How is yoga related to nursing?
Yoga and nursing are related in that both focus on holistic well-being and promoting health. Yoga can complement nursing by providing nurses with tools to manage stress, improve self-care, and enhance their own physical and mental health. Incorporating yoga into their lifestyle can help nurses cultivate compassion, self-awareness, and resilience, which are important qualities in nursing practice.
Who should not do yoga exercises?
While yoga is generally safe for most people, there are certain individuals who should exercise caution or avoid certain poses or practices. People with certain medical conditions, such as uncontrolled high blood pressure, severe osteoporosis, or recent injuries, should consult with their healthcare provider before starting a yoga practice. Pregnant women, individuals with certain musculoskeletal conditions, and those with specific medical concerns should seek guidance from a qualified yoga instructor or their healthcare professional.
Why is yoga good for burnout?
Yoga is beneficial for burnout because it provides a holistic approach to stress reduction and self-care. It helps manage stress levels, promotes relaxation, improves mental focus, and enhances overall well-being. Regular practice of yoga can lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels, reduce anxiety and depression, increase resilience, and foster self-compassion—all of which are essential in preventing and managing burnout.
How is yoga used in healthcare?
Yoga is increasingly being used in healthcare settings as a complementary therapy. It can be integrated into treatment plans for various conditions, such as chronic pain, anxiety, depression, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. Yoga is often used alongside conventional medical treatments to improve overall health outcomes, manage symptoms, and enhance quality of life.
Is yoga a nursing intervention?
Yes, yoga can be considered a nursing intervention. Nurses who have training in yoga can incorporate it into their practice to support patient care. They can teach patients yoga techniques, guide relaxation exercises, and encourage mindfulness practices as part of a holistic approach to health promotion, disease prevention, and symptom management.
What are the 20 benefits of yoga?
While the specific benefits of yoga can vary among individuals, here are 20 potential benefits:
- Increased flexibility
- Improved strength
- Enhanced posture
- Better balance and coordination
- Stress reduction
- Increased relaxation
- Improved sleep quality
- Boosted mood and emotional well-being
- Enhanced focus and concentration
- Lowered blood pressure
- Improved respiratory function
- Enhanced digestion
- Increased energy levels
- Boosted immune system function
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Reduced anxiety and depression symptoms
- Enhanced body awareness
- Better pain management
- Increased self-confidence
- Promotion of a healthy lifestyle
What is the role of yoga in preventive healthcare?
Yoga plays a role in preventive healthcare by promoting overall wellness and disease prevention. Regular yoga practice can improve physical fitness, manage stress, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and enhance mental and emotional well-being. By incorporating yoga into their lifestyle, individuals can take a proactive approach to maintaining their health and preventing potential health issues.
Yoga Helps You Feel Good!
Don’t we all want to feel good in our 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 live a healthy life if we are not living one ourselves?
Happy yoga practice!
Additional Recommended Reading:
Effective Strategies To Combat Nurse Burnout and Moral Injury
Have you ever experienced an overwhelming amount of stress or exhaustion from work? You wouldn’t be the only one. These extreme feelings are often referred to as burnout, which is categorized by a decrease in emotional, physical, and psychological energy resulting from work-related stress. This is a problem employees face in all industries but is particularly trying for those in demanding professions such as healthcare.
How can you tell if an employee is suffering from burnout or moral injury instead of just normal levels of work-related stress? Researchers have indicated that there are three primary aspects of burnout in employees.
#1. Emotional Exhaustion
Emotional exhaustion results from the feelings of immense stress and pressure on employees that leave them feeling emotionally and physically spent by the time they’ve finished their shift.
Emotional exhaustion goes hand in hand with another aspect of burnout, depersonalization. This type of detachment reduces the amount of empathy an employee is able to expend toward the people they work with and for. In the healthcare industry, this can raise questions regarding the quality of care that nurses are able to provide when they’re experiencing burnout.
#3. Feelings Of Low Accomplishment
The final aspect of burnout is described as a feeling of low accomplishment. Employees may feel worthless despite their established skills and contribute less toward the responsibilities of their position. This can have some serious implications in the case of nurses and other healthcare professionals.
For as common as burnout and moral injury is in the healthcare industry, not many organizations feel they have a good grasp on programs to address these issues. Below are a few strategies that would serve as effective tools for combating nurse burnout.
- Creation and Implementation of Wellness Programs: programs designed to educate nurses on stress reduction and wellness strategies are a great start. These programs would provide methods that can be incorporated in their days to maintain stress levels.
- Healthy Work Environments: providing nurses with an environment where they’re respected and able to communicate about their issues openly has a positive effect on their performance and stress levels.
- Incorporation of Scheduling Software: integrated scheduling tools that provide clear information for nurses allows for a higher quality of care for patients.
- Establishing Healthy Habits: though it may seem cliché, the basics are often the most important. A nutritious diet, a full night’s sleep, and exercise go a long way in terms of positive mental health.
- Management Involvement: for the management staff, allowing nurses to bring attention to workplace issues with confidence and establishing an open dialogue will allow for a greater understanding of the employees and how they respond to stress.
For more information on how burnout affects the healthcare industry and nurses, as well as strategies to combat this burnout, be sure to review the accompanying infographic courtesy of ScheduleAnywhere.
Additional recommended reading:
There isn’t much time to relax when you work as a nurse, especially during the middle of a pandemic. Too much time standing takes a bigger toll on our bodies than we may believe, even if we’re not lifting heavy objects or doing vigorous exercise. The physical pain of your regular workday builds up and can affect your mood if you don’t take care of yourself regularly.
Before you hurt yourself or break down, take time to practice these self-care tips for nurses who stand all day at work.
Practice relaxation right after work
Once you leave work, you are absolutely done working. This statement might seem redundant—but I promise that it makes sense if you’re the type who can’t look away from work even when you’re at home. There are some times, especially now, when you need to have your work phone at the ready in case you get called in, but on days when you aren’t on call, it’s time to set the phone down and breathe. You deserve a break from both standing and working. Whether you decide to relax by taking a bubble bath or lounging on the sofa with your family’s favorite TV show is up to you.
Additional recommended reading: 9 Tips To Relieve Foot Pain From Standing All Day
Schedule chiropractor appointments
Sometimes, the tension we acquire from standing at work all day is more than a little at-home self-care can handle. A chiropractor is perfect for relieving back pain caused by standing and even preventing injuries related to tense muscles. If you’re a new mother or a soon-to-be-mother, chiropractors are capable of relieving back and pelvic pains related to your pregnancy as well. Trusting a chiropractor to take care of you can be difficult, but if you look for a chiropractor with trustworthy qualities and certifications, it will be worth every penny.
Purchase specialized clothing
Even though we have strict dress codes as nurses, that doesn’t mean we have to settle for shoes that fail our feet and lack support for our backs. A good pair of shoes is worth the investment and will save your back while you work. If you need extra support on the floor, consider purchasing a knee brace or compression socks or stockings.
As a nurse and a mother, it can be easy to forget that, in addition to taking care of others at work and home, we need to take care of ourselves, too. With these self-care tips for nurses who stand all day at work, you can re-energize yourself after a long shift at work and prepare yourself for the next day.
Additional recommended reading: