(This post contains affiliate links. You can find my disclosure page here.)
The benefits of green tea have been touted for decades. But I recently discovered a new shade of green tea that I’m pretty obsessed with called matcha.
I initially tried matcha green tea because I was tired of the caffeine highs and lows that I got with coffee. As a nurse and new mom who works 12 hour shifts in an emergency room I need caffeine, but coffee can be intense. So as an experiment, I decided to switch out my coffee habit entirely with matcha green tea for 30 days to see if I noticed any differences. (And by the way, this was a huge step for me, as I am a coffee addict and a coffee snob!).
I put my Kuerig in the pantry and set my electric kettle in its place. I didn’t want the temptation to brew my regular coffee in a moment of weakness.
And guess what? It has been several months and I’m still drinking a cup of matcha green tea every morning. I feel better when I drink matcha than I do coffee – and I can see a noticeable improvement in my skin as well!
What is Matcha Green Tea?
All green teas, matcha included, are derived from a plant called Camellia Sinensis. As opposed to regular green tea that comes in a tea bag, matcha is 100% green tea leaves that have been ground into a fine powder. That is why matcha is so concentrated and why you only need 1/2 teaspoon per cup!
In addition, matcha is higher in caffeine than
regular green tea so you don’t need to add more then 1/2 to 1 teaspoon per cup of tea. However, you can vary the amount of caffeine based on how much powder you add.
Matcha green tea offers many health benefits compared to coffee.
4 Reasons Nurses Should Drink Matcha Green Tea Instead Of Coffee:
#1. Matcha is healthier for you
Like other green teas, Matcha contains a type of antioxidants called catechins. It is specifically high in a type of catechin called EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), which is known to prevent cancer in the body. Many studies have linked green tea to a variety of health benefits such as weight loss, preventing heart disease and preventing type 2 diabetes.
As a nurse who practices evidence-based care, I know it is important to create healthy habits to help prevent illnesses in my future. Matcha is just another way for me to take better care of myself on the job.
#2. Matcha is high in vitamins
Compared to coffee, matcha scores significantly higher in nutrition. It contains vitamin A and C, iron, calcium, protein, and potassium. In addition, the high chlorophyll content in matcha also makes it an effective detoxifier that helps the body rid itself of toxins and heavy metals.
Coffee does not even compete with the nutrition that you get from matcha. By starting the day off on the right nutritional foot with a cup of matcha tea nurses can help meet their nutritional needs. Not to mention, many break rooms are fills with sweets like donuts and cookies. Adding a cup or two of matcha can help nurses get the nutritional fuel they need to continue giving great patient care.
#3. Matcha creates a sense of calm alertness and concentration
As opposed to the highs and lows that many people get with drinking coffee, matcha provides a less jittery caffeine high. That is because Matcha contains L-Theanine, an amino acid that helps your body to process caffeine differently than coffee. As a result, matcha contains much less caffeine than coffee yet has a more sustained energy boost, without the crash later on.
As front line workers in the hospital, nurses need to stay calm in stressful situations. Our patients lives depend on us to make critical decisions that effect their overall health and well-being. In addition, nurses need to be able to focus clearly, often for hours on end without breaks. A slip-up , such as a medication error, could be deadly.
#4. Matcha gives you whiter teeth
And better oral hygiene as well. Matcha has antibacterial properties that provide vital protection to the teeth, prevent plaque build up and improves oral health. On the other hand, coffee stains the teeth and causes bad breath – a major turn off for patients.
Most nurses I know don’t brush their teeth after drinking coffee or eating meals at work – even if they had the time. Drinking matcha helps eliminate coffee breath and keeps nurses’ oral hygiene healthy to boot.
What you need to make your own matcha green tea at home:
Making matcha green tea at home is an easy as making a pot of coffee. Just add 1/2 teaspoon matcha to 12 ounces hot water. Add sweetener and milk if desired. Enjoy!
As s a nurse I have been exposed to so many stressful situations. I’ve been cussed at by angry patients (more times then I can count), swung at, kicked, had a full urinal thrown at me, been exposed to, been in the middle of dozens of violent patient situations and take-downs, and been the victim of nurse bullying.
In addition, I see other nurses being treated poorly from patients, family members, doctors and even sometimes other nurses. In fact, it’s not even unusual. And, like other nurses, I am expected to continue giving compassionate patient care without regard to my own well being.
This sacrificial attitude of putting myself last on a very long spectrum of compassionate care is just not going to cut it anymore. The thought of spending an entire career with this amount of wear-and-tear is frightening. Something has to give before I completely fizzle and burn to a crisp.
Nurses need to have compassion for themselves too.
I came out of nursing school with equal parts compassion and adrenaline to save lives and make a positive difference in the world! In fact, I left a very lucrative 10 year medical equipment sales career so I could do just that. I was determined to advocate for and serve my patients to the best of my ability. Compassion was one of my greatest strengths.
As an overachiever for most of my life I have always maintained the attitude that I can do anything as long as I try hard enough. And now, after 7 years as a registered nurse, I am discovering that I am failing at the one thing that actually defines a great nurse: compassion.
The nurse burnout is real.
What I am currently experiencing is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion that is more extreme than anything that I have ever experienced in my adult life. I started my nursing career with the determination to give amazing patient care and here I am, 7 years later, losing my compassion.
(And just so you know – this has been hard for me to acknowledge because I have been a “yes” person my entire life.)
There is beauty in the breakdown.
My nursing burnout amplified after the birth of my first child in 2015. Then, it got even worse after my second child in 2018. In fact, I started writing regularly again out of desperation to find an outlet for the exhaustion and overwhelming fatigue I was feeling as a nurse and new mom. My goal was to find more effective ways to take better care of myself and make my life a little easier. And it actually has helped me find a little reprieve.
But most importantly, it has opened my eyes to the fact that I need to make some huge changes in my life. Most of all, I need to find my compassion again. But this time I am unapologetically focusing my compassion on myself, first.
So, in light of this discovery, I am 100% accepting and honoring these uncomfortable feelings. I am using them as a catalyst to make changes in my professional and personal life. My mental and physical pain will be an opportunity for growth and finding self-compassion.
I rarely take the time to do nothing and reflect. This is a good year for more of that.
I am on a mission for self-compassion.
You know how when you fly in an airplane, there is the safety warning before take-off? Passengers are instructed to put the oxygen mask on themselves first, then help others around them. Because if you pass out from lack of oxygen, you’re not helpful to anyone!
So, here is me putting the oxygen mask on myself first. Some of the changes I am making are professional and some are personal. But they are all things I have been wanting to do for a really long time but haven’t because I was thinking about others’ needs before my own.
Here are my new personal nurse self-care and self-compassion goals:
#1. Work two 12 hour shifts a week instead of three
This one is hard for me because it equates to a significant decrease in pay (and I really like money!). With two toddler age children, child care is our biggest expense (besides housing) and it’s not going away any time soon. But fortunately, we are in a position to afford it for the time being and I want to use the extra day off to spend more one-on-one time with my adorable babies.
In addition, since most hospital shifts are 12 to 13 hours I don’t get to see my children at all on the days that I work. I am also staying away from working back-to-back shifts because I just don’t want to be away from my children for more than one day at a time.
#2. Work fewer holidays and as few weekends as possible
After I had children I really hated having to work on holidays. I have missed so many birthdays, Easters, 4th of Julys, Thanksgivings, Christmas and New Years to be working at the hospital. At some point, I started to resent missing that time with my family. Working on holidays is the norm for many nurses, and I expect to work some. But since I will be working a little less anyway this will also equate to working fewer holidays as well. The same goes for weekends.
Self Care for nurses is more important now than ever.
#3. Continue working per diem
There are a lot of benefits and drawbacks to being a per diem nurse. For example, I love that I can schedule myself to work on the exact days I WANT to work. However, it also means that if I am not needed then I get canceled at 0400 and then I don’t make any money for that day. And since I end up paying for a nanny regardless, that’s a double whammy.
The best part of being a per diem nurse is that it offers me a much better work-life balance. When I worked as a career nurse it was almost impossible for me to secure childcare because my work schedule was always changing. Some weeks I got the schedule I needed and others I didn’t. So on the whole, being a per diem nurse is the right choice for me and my family.
#4. Continue writing and growing my website to help other nurse moms
In 2016 I became a nurse blogger. My venture was born out of my frustration with burnout as a registered nurse and my desire to create a more flexible work-life balance. Writing about nurse lifestyle topics that interest me and exploring ways that nurses can take better care of themselves helps me to take care of myself better too.
My little blog is even starting to make a small monthly income, which absolutely thrills me. I have a dream that if I keep working hard my website will make enough money that I can work one day a week instead of two.
#5. Take a comprehensive course in website management and blogging
Last week I signed up for a comprehensive blogging course that will probably take me the next 6-8 months to complete. I honestly haven’t been more excited to do something for myself like this in a really long time. In fact, I can’t wait to see my progress over the next year!
#6. Explore other medical-related career options
A few weeks ago I interviewed for an aesthetic sales position. Although I didn’t end up working for the company, it did open my eyes to the fact that there are so many other great opportunities that I could be interested in and also fit my skill set as a nurse. A nursing practice can take many forms and I am giving myself permission to continue learning about other nursing career options.
#7. Focus more energy into my family and friends
One of my New Years resolutions this year was to “choose fun.” So many studies have shown that spending quality time with family and friends is incredibly helpful in decreasing stress and improving burnout symptoms. Since I will be working a little less I will have more time to focus my energy on the people who matter most to me.
#8. Enjoy my new fancy gym membership (with childcare on site!)
In the spirit of investing more in myself, I started 2019 off with a gym membership. It has been a complete game-changer for me. In fact, the old me would never have never splurged on a fancy gym membership. Making regular time to work out always makes me feel great, clears my head and gives me more stamina. And my 1 year old loves the Kid’s Club, so it’s a win-win.
As a nurse and mom, my life basically revolves around caring for everyone else, and I am SO GRATEFUL to be able to do that. But if there is one thing I have learned through my own compassion fatigue it is that I need to put the same care into myself as I do into my patients and family. So in the spirit of self-compassion, I am metaphorically putting on my oxygen mask first, before helping those around me.
#9. Practice more yoga
I have been regularly practicing yoga for 14 years. Finally, in 2o15 I completed Yoga Works’ 4 month Urban Zen Integrative Therapy program for medical professionals. I learned how to teach simple yoga, do guided meditation and perform Reiki. It was amazing!
However, in recent years I have not been practicing as much as I would like, and that is going to change. My goal is to incorporate yoga into my busy schedule every single day. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes. Yoga helps me stay balanced in times of great stress, gives me flexibility (both physically and mentally) and has been extremely grounding. In fact, I recently started teaching my 3-year-old daughter a series of yoga poses and it is bringing us both great joy!
These two are already happy about self-care goal #1: Work two 12 hour shifts a week instead of three. Job flexibility has never been so important to me.
Nurse self-care matters. If we don’t care for ourselves then how can we expect patients to listen to our health advice and education? I am taking this opportunity to give myself compassion and hopefully lead others by example.
If other nurses find themselves feeling as unappreciated and burnt out as me I encourage them to find ways to care for themselves first. Otherwise, we are perpetuating a broken system that does not acknowledge that nursing burnout is a real issue and ignoring nurse health and well being.
So nurse, what are you going to do to take care of yourself today? Leave a comment!
Here are seven great yoga poses for nurses to start their shifts off on the right foot.
(This post is not a substitution for medical care. Please consult with your physician before starting any exercise routine. This post also contains affiliate links. You can find my disclosure page here.)
7 Energizing Yoga Poses For Nurses
What do you think would happen if every nurse did an energizing 20-minute yoga routine before every shift?
Its likely nurses have a chance to clear their heads, connect with themselves, and give themselves a moment to prepare for the busy 12-hour shift ahead. Not a bad way to start off the day.
Many nurses may underestimate the physical and mental wear-and-tear of long shifts. The start the day fueled on cups of coffee and then they are not getting the rest and recovery they need afterward.
So, as nurses, we must do the best we can to take care of ourselves the best we can (obviously no one else at the hospital is going to help up out with that). This includes giving our bodies the rest, rejuvenation and tender love that we give to our patients each shift! No more self-sacrificing attitudes!
Yoga is a fantastic way for nurses to reconnect with their bodies and make sure they are in a healthy and happy mental state – both before and after a nursing shift.
7 Energizing Yoga Poses For Nurses To Start The Shift Off Right:
#1. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Mountain Pose is a great yoga pose for nurses to start within the morning. Ground your feet and press evenly through all four corners of each foot. Stretch your arms towards the floor and draw your abdominals in and up.
Hold for five to eight breaths to get focused and ready to move deeper into your practice.
Benefits of Mountain Pose:
Strengthens thighs, knees, and ankles
Increases strength and mobility in the feet, legs, and hips
Firms abdomen and buttocks
#2. Upward Salute Pose (Urdhva Hastasana)
Upward Salute Pose
This is a great awakening pose for nurses before a shift. From Mountain Pose, lift your arms up overhead and press your palms firmly together. Keep the tops of your shoulders released away from your ears and activate your triceps. Keep the abdominals engaged and the legs firm.
Hold for five to eight breaths.
Benefits of Upward Salute Pose:
Stretches the sides of the body, spine, shoulders, and belly
Tones the thighs
Helps to relieve anxiety and fatigue.
Helps create space in the chest and lungs
#3. Cat-Cow Pose
Start on your hands and knees with your wrists directly under your shoulders, and your knees directly under your hips. Point your fingertips to the top of your mat. Place your shins and knees hip-width apart. Center your head in a neutral position and soften your gaze downward.
Cow Pose: Inhale as you drop your belly towards the mat. Lift your chin and chest, and gaze up toward the ceiling.
Cat Pose: As you exhale, draw your belly to your spine and round your back toward the ceiling. The pose should look like a cat stretching its back. Release the crown of your head toward the floor, but don’t force your chin to your chest.
Inhale, coming back into Cow Pose, and then exhale as you return to Cat Pose.
Repeat 5-20 times, and then rest by sitting back on your heels with your torso upright.
Benefits of Cat Cow Pose:
Brings flexibility to the spine
Stretches the back torso and neck
Softly stimulates and strengthens the abdominal organs
Open the chest, encouraging the breath to become slow and deep.
Calms the mind
Helps develop postural awareness and balance throughout the body and brings the spine into correct alignment
#4. Downward-Facing Dog Pose (Adho mukha svanasana)
Downward-Facing Dog Pose
From neutral Cat Cow pose, push your hips up into Downward-Facing Dog Pose.
Press firmly into your hands and roll your up arms outwards. Lengthen up through your torso and keep your abdominals engaged. Actively use your legs to keep bringing your torso back in space. Bend your knees if needed.
Hold here for eight to ten breaths.
Benefits of Downward-Facing Dog Pose for nurses:
Helps build bone density in the arms
Builds upper body strength
Helps to decrease back pain and stiffness.
Helps boost circulation by putting your heart above your head
#5. Warrior I (Virabhadra I)
Warrior I Pose
Step your feet 3 1/2 to 4 feet apart. Raise your arms perpendicular to the floor (and parallel to each other), and reach your hands actively towards the ceiling. Firm your scapulas against your back and draw them down toward the coccyx.
Turn your left foot in 45 to 60 degrees to the right and your right foot out 90 degrees to the right. Align the right heel with the left heel. Rotate your torso to the right, squaring the front of your pelvis to the front of your mat. As the left hip point turns forward. Lengthen your coccyx toward the floor, and arch your upper torso back slightly.
Exhale and bend your right knee over the right ankle so the shin is perpendicular to the floor Reach strongly through your arms, lifting the rib cage away from the pelvis.
Stay for 30 to 60 seconds and switch sides.
Benefits of Warrior I Pose:
Stretches the chest and lungs, shoulders and neck and belly
Strengthens your shoulders, arms, legs, ankles, and back
Strengthens and stretches the thighs, calves, and ankles
Opens your hips, chest, and lungs.
Improves focus, balance, and stability
Energizes the whole body
#6. Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
Forward Fold Pose
Stand in Mountain Pose with your hands on your hips. Exhale as you bend forward at the hips, lengthening the front of your torso. Bend your elbows and hold on to each elbow with the opposite hand. Let the crown of your head hang down. Press your heels into the floor and lift your sit bones toward the ceiling. Turn the tops of your thighs slightly inward. Don’t lock your knees.
Engage your quadriceps and draw them up toward the ceiling. Bring your weight to the balls of your feet. Keep your hips aligned over your ankles. Let your head hang.
Hold the pose for up to one minute. To release, place your hands on your hips. Keep your back flat as you inhale and return to Mountain Pose. Repeat 2-5 times.
Benefits of Forward Fold:
Helps to relieve stress, headaches, anxiety, fatigue, mild depression, and insomnia
Stretches and lengthens your hamstrings and calves
Opens the hips and can relieve tension in the neck and shoulders.
#7. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Child’s Pose is a beginner’s yoga pose often performed to rest between more difficult poses. The position stretches the thighs, hips and ankles and helps relax the body and mind.
Kneel on the floor with your toes together and your knees hip-width apart. Rest your palms on top of your thighs.
On an exhale, lower your torso between your knees. Extend your arms alongside your torso with your palms facing down. Relax your shoulders toward the ground. Rest in the pose for as long as needed.
Benefits of Child’s Pose:
Stretches the hips, thighs, and ankles
Reduces stress and fatigue
Relaxes the muscles on the front of the body
Elongates the lower back
Calms the mind
Rests the body
Care for yourself first through yoga, so you can care better for patients after.
Nurses must get into the practice of taking good care of themselves first, so they can continue to take great care of patients as well. After all, nurses serve as role models for our patients. If we don’t take our own health advice, why should our patients listen to us about anything else?
A good way to start is by practicing these energizing pre-shift yoga poses for nurses. And then see how much better you feel heading into your shifts!
Essential yoga props to start your yoga practice:
After 13 years of yoga practice and have tried many yoga props along the way. You don’t need much to get started. Here are a few of the yoga props I use at the studio and at home.
I love this yoga mat. The quality is very good for the price. I have this exact mat in my living room and after 2 years it still looks brand new. It is soft with a relatively nice thickness compared to other yoga mats I have tried. In addition, it has nice grooves that keep the mat in place.
Yoga straps are useful for all levels of yoga practice and can provide support, help with alignment and improve posture. In addition, I love the Manduka cork yoga blocks because I have had mine for 6 years and they still look brand new! Unlike foam blocks, these don’t disintegrate over time due to sweat and 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.
Helpful tips for nurses to stay hydrated during 12-hour shifts
Hey nurses – how much water do you drink during a 12-hour shift?
If you are like most hard-working nurses, the answer is probably “not much.”
As nurses, we always encourage our patients to take the best possible care of themselves that they can. However, many nurses either forget or don’t have time during very intensive shifts. I asked several nurses recently what their water intake while they were at work, and here is some of the feedback I got back:
“I try to remember to drink water, but I always get so busy that I forget. By the time I remember, I am so thirsty!”
“I chug water whenever I can remember to drink. Usually, a few times a shift.”
“I almost always go home feeling so dehydrated because I do drink enough water during the day. It’s hard because every day is so hectic!”
Many nurses don’t drink enough water during busy shifts. Nurse health matters too.
Water is essential for nurse health.
It is no surprise that adequate amounts of fluid intake are vital to good health. Additionally, drinking enough water prevents dehydration – which can result in unclear thinking (a lousy situation for nurses giving patient care).
According to the Center For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC), dehydration causes:
Decreased physical performance
And it sucks your energy and just makes you feel crummy
On the flip side, staying hydrated results in:
Better mental clarity
Better bowel movements
A happier mood
How much water should nurses drink during a 12-hour shift?
The Food And Nutrition Board set general recommendations for women at approximately 2.7 liters (91 ounces) of total water each day, and men an average of roughly 3.7 liters (125 ounces daily) of total water.
However, the reality is that a person’s size, activity level, and medical needs, among other factors, will result in different fluid intake requirements for different people.
Also, since many nurses are walking several miles and are on their feet for most of a single shift, I would consider nursing a very high activity level career. Therefore, many nurses may require a higher fluid intake on days they work.
How do you know if you are staying hydrated?
Checking your urine is an excellent way to gauge dehydration. If you’re well-hydrated, your urine will be mostly clear and just slightly yellow. A darker yellow or amber color is a signal that you are not drinking enough fluids.
Also, by the time you are feeling thirsty, likely, you are already dehydrated. Thirst is an excellent body mechanism that prevents us from going too long without drinking water!
Keep yourself accountable by keeping a water bottle with you at work
6 Tips For Nurses To Reach Daily Water Goals
Drinking enough water can be difficult for busy nurses with 1000 things already on their plate. Especially since we are putting the needs of our patient’s lives first. With these easy tips, you can reach your water goals in no time.
#1. Bring a seal-able lid water bottle to work with you every single day. Having a container within arms reach maximizes the chances that you are going to drink water when you think about it.
#2. Keep track of your fluid intake. This is easy when you use your container as a gauge. Decide how many refills you want to drink every shift and stick to it. It makes staying hydrated a realistic goal.
#3. Drink two glasses of water as soon as you wake up. Drinking at least 16-24 oz of water first thing before a 12-hour shift will help set you up for success. By making significant progress early in the day, hitting your water goals seems much more attainable.
#4. Eat your water. Fruits and vegetables are not only excellent break room snacks, but they are loaded with water that contributes towards your total water intake for the day.
#5. Make your water more exciting. Infuse your water with chopped fruit, veggies, and other herbs to make your water more appealing. Consider the following ideas:
Stir in a tablespoon of chia seeds for more Omega three’s
Lemon or lime slices
Fruits such as apples, blueberries or strawberries
A veggie such as cucumber slices
You can infuse your water at home and bring it to work with you
#6. Spice up your water. Consider drinking a few glasses of carbonated water in addition to your regular water. Bubbly water often tastes more refreshing then flat water and may encourage you to drink a little more. Have an expensive sparkling water habit? Consider buying a Sodastream and make your own bubbly water at home!
#7. Do a “water challenge” with your co-workers. Make your co-workers and yourself more accountable for drinking enough water during a shift by challenging each other to make it a priority! Set a goal for how many times you will fill up your water bottles throughout the day. Then, make it official by putting stickers on your water bottles and adding a checkmark each time you fill them up. That way, you are sure you are all drinking enough and staying hydrated!
A few great water bottle suggestions:
If you are working long nursing shifts, then you need a water bottle to help you reach your water intake goals. When you always have your water bottle with you, hitting your water intake goals are so much more attainable.
Water is essential for staying hydrated, maintaining stamina, and overall health and well-being. Nurse health is as important as our patient’s health and must be prioritized to prevent dehydration during busy hospital shifts.
If you are are looking to find ways to take better care of yourself as a busy nurse, join our email list!
(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.
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.
Holistic self care for nurses
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.
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.
Running is a great fast and easy workout for busy nurses to fit into their schedules.
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.
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.
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
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.
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Between my time working as an 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 bit of 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 it be to take a social media break?
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. 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 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 addiction recovery! (Nurses are solution finders, what can I say!?).
Do you remember what it feels like not to 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 an authentic 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 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 typical workday. Mindless internet and social media browsing can kill off the equivalent of almost one 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 healthcare-related issues, including many cancers, depression, and weight gain. In other words, better sleep = happy nurses.
Taking a social media break is an excellent 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?
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