10 Fun Holiday Nurse Mom Gifts

10 Fun Holiday Nurse Mom Gifts

*This post about gifts for nurse moms contains affiliate links.  You can find our disclosure page here.

Nurse moms are pretty incredible humans.

Being a nurse or a mom is hard work in and of itself.  Add the two together and you have one incredibly hard-working, compassionate, multitasking superhero with skills that can save lives.

This holiday season why not give gifts that recognize both talents?  The one that is raising children to be strong, capable adults and the one selflessly helping total strangers.  After all, there is a fair chance that many nurse moms are not being appreciated or recognized for the dedication and hard work they put in, day after day.

The motherhood/nurse combination is a challenging balance.    Next time you run into a nurse mom who looks a little tired, know there is a good chance she hasn’t slept in a week.  And give her a high-five.

We hope you enjoy you holiday season and spend lots of quality time with your loved ones!

10 Fun Holiday Gifts For Nurse Moms

The Ultimate List Of Fun Holiday Nurse Mom Gifts

1.  I’m a Mom and a Nurse Nothing Scares Me Pink Mug

2.  Keep Calm My Mom Is A Nurse Onesie 

3.  Keep Calm I’m A Nurse And A Mom Mug

4.  I’m A Nurse, What’s Your Superpower? 12 oz Wine Tumbler

Additional recommend reading:

5.  I’m A Mom And Nurse Nothing Scares Me

6.  My Mom Is A Nurse Dog T-Shirt

7.  Nurse Mom Boss Mug

8.  Wife Mom Nurse 16 oz Tumbler

9.  Wife, Mom, Nurse Retractable Badge Reel

10.  Nurse Mates Ultimate Nursing Bag For Women

Additional recommended reading:

 

9 Tips To Relieve Foot Pain For Nurses

9 Tips To Relieve Foot Pain For Nurses

(This post about nurse foot pain remedies may contain affiliate links.  You can find our disclosure page here.)

Written by Deborah Swanson from allheart.com

My feet hurt after work.  What should I do?

If I had a dollar for every time I hear a nurse say they have sore feet I would be rich!

Nurses need to be taking care of themselves now more than ever especially when it comes to foot care.  After all, as nurses working long 12+ hour days we often spend it standing and/or walking the entire time.

Unfortunately foot pain for nurses can become a chronic issue, and as much as we want to ignore it, it won’t go away on its own.  In fact, as a nurse who writes a lot about nurse self-care, nurse foot pain and sore foot remedies are on the top of the list!

Did you know that feet are made up of 28 bones and 30 joints (not to mention more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments)?

Our feet are very complex structures, yet they carry our entire body weight around.  It is no wonder foot pain is a common complaint among doctors, nurses and other medical professionals who spend long shifts on their feet!

If you’re a healthcare professional suffering from debilitating foot pain, there are steps you can take to help prevent or relieve the hurt.  Read on for nine top tips to treat foot pain for nurses.

#1.  Choose the right shoe size

measuring foot size and foot

Preventing foot pain as a nurse starts with wearing the correct size nursing shoe.

If you’re having foot pain as a nurse or other healthcare professional, the first step is to make sure that you’re not wearing the wrong size shoes.

To measure your feet, put on socks and stand on a flat ruler.  Measure the length of both feet and then compare it to the brand’s measurement chart.

It’s important to do this for each individual shoe brand you’re shopping for since sizes can differ. If you’re checking the size of your existing shoe, compare it to the measurement you made.

Also remember that some shoes stretch out over time, so if you’ve had your shoes for a while, they might be larger than their original size indicates.

#2.  Invest in comfortable shoes

Nurses rack up hundreds of miles in their shoes, which is why it’s essential to buy comfortable shoes that give your feet the support they need.  In fact, investing in a high quality, sturdy nursing shoe might be the best remedy for sore foot pain due to being a nurse who is on their feet for up to 12 hours a shift.

While it may be tempting to go for the softest, spongiest sole, you actually need a shoe with a bit of firmness and arch support to encourage the proper form. The sole should be thick and flexible enough that it will provide shock absorption as you accumulate steps.

#3.  Buy shoes made for walking and standing

Running shoes may be very comfortable for running, but they won’t give you the support you need during a 12-hour day of walking and standing. Your feet (and therefore your shoes) strike the ground very differently while running vs. walking and standing, so the two types of shoes are constructed completely differently.

That’s why we recommend nursing shoes, which are specifically designed for maximum standing and walking support. If you absolutely must wear athletic shoes, look for walking or hiking shoes rather than running ones.

#4.  Consider orthotic inserts

shoe inserts next to bare feet

Relieving foot pain as a nurse might require orthotic inserts.

Shoe inserts promote proper walking and standing posture and help accommodate various foot problems, including corns and bunions. Inserts can also be used to provide additional arch support or shock absorption if the factory-made sole isn’t up to par.

Basic insoles can be purchased over-the-counter at pharmacies and online retailers, but you can also get custom inserts (called orthotics) molded to your feet if you have specific issues that you need to correct.

Tip:  If you think that you might need orthotics, make sure that whatever shoe you buy has removable inserts so you can replace them.

#5.  Wear compression socks

Gravity is your friend in many ways, but foot pain is not one of them.

Gravity pulls on blood, lymph and other fluids, slowing down their normal flow and encouraging them to pool in your lower body, which leads to swelling. This sluggish blood flow also means that your legs aren’t being replenished with nutrients as fast, which makes them feel tired and achy.

Compression socks provide just the right amount of pressure to keep your blood and lymph flowing to help prevent swelling and fend off lower body achiness.

#6.  Elevate your feet after a shift

You can also take steps to reduce swelling after a shift.

Lie flat on a bed or couch, raise your legs above the level of your heart and rest there for 15-20 minutes at the end of your day. This position will harness the power of gravity to drain the blood and lymph from your legs, encouraging it to flow back to your core instead.

If you struggle with a lot of foot swelling and pain, compression stockings–combined with leg elevation–could really make a significant difference for you.

#7.  Pamper your feet

women pampering her feet in water

A great nurse foot pain remedy after a 12 hour shift is to pamper your feet with a massage and soak them in warm water.

If you were looking for an excuse to spoil yourself, this is it.

A cold bath will help reduce swelling in your feet and calves, while a warm soak will loosen up stiff joints and help you move easier. Add some Epsom salts or essential oils to the water for added benefits and a nice smell.

After you soak, gently massage your feet with moisturizer while you check them for signs of calluses, bunions, injuries and anything else that could lead to foot pain.

#8.  Stretch and exercise your legs

Exercising on your days off can strengthen your feet and lower legs and help prevent pain on the days that you work.

Try calf raises, ankle rolls, toe presses and other similar exercises. Both cardiovascular and strength training activities will build your stamina more generally and make all of your body stronger, including your lower legs.

If your feet are stiff at the end of a shift, it can help to take a few minutes to stretch when you get home. This will lengthen the muscles after 12 hours of work and help keep them from cramping.

#9.  Replace your shoes often

Depending on how hard you are on your shoes and how far you walk each shift, you’ll need to replace your nursing shoes every three to six months. This may sound like a lot, but trust us, it’s worth it.

Wearing worn-out shoes increases your chance of developing both temporary and chronic foot problems. It’s much better to be proactive, buy a new pair of shoes and prevent the problems before they even start.

You only have one pair of feet, so take care of them!

In conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this post about relieving foot pain as a nurse or other healthcare professional who spends a lot of time standing and walking during the day.   Managing foot pain as a nurse or other medical professional is so important.

After all, debilitating foot pain could potentially compromise your ability to do your job and give the best quality patient care that you can.

Follow these nine steps to prevent and manage foot pain so you can take the next step forward in your career!

About The Author

Debbie Swanson, Real Caregivers Program at allheart.com

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

How To Prepare For Nursing School: 9 Tips

How To Prepare For Nursing School: 9 Tips

(This post about how to prepare for nursing school may have affiliate links.  You can find our disclosure page here).  

Written by Deborah Swanson at allheart.com

What is the best way to prepare for nursing school?

Higher education of any kind is a serious commitment, and nursing school is no exception.  Classes are difficult, clinical shifts are long and the environment can be competitive and even cutthroat at times.

So what can you do before nursing school starts to ensure that you get off to a great start?

The truth is that there is so much of nursing school that you will have no control of.  But there is one thing that you can control – and that is to prepare yourself in advance the best you can.

Because not only is preparation the key to succeeding in nursing school, but it also determines how you will succeed in your career as a nurse.

“By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.”  – Benjamin Franklin

9 Super Helpful Nursing School Tips

It feels like ages since I graduated from nursing school.  Yet it is as fresh in my mind as if it was yesterday.  And it is no exaggeration to say that graduating from nursing school is the most challenging thing I have ever achieved in my life.

In hindsight I realize that was actually a good thing.  Because working on the front line of patient care in today’s healthcare environment is more challenging than ever, and the healthcare industry needs amazing nurses.

It is likely that you already know that not everyone who goes to nursing school will make it through.  But with the right attitude, grit and relentless preparation you can do it!

Here are 9 helpful and actionable tips to help you prepare for nursing school:

#1.  Organize your life

nurse writing in a calendar

Organization is crucial for success in nursing school- to be successful you need to manage your time relentlessly.

Before nursing school starts, take stock of your life and get things in order.

Inventory your existing school supplies, clear out your closet and deep clean your house—all those chores you always meant to get around to, but never had the time.

You definitely won’t have the time to do these time-consuming tasks during the academic year, and since they don’t need to be done that often, getting them out of the way before you start school is an excellent idea.

As a result you’ll feel much more centered so you can focus your energy where you need it most – on your school work.

 

#2.  Create your schedule for the semester

Once you’ve enrolled in classes and finalized your schedule, input everything into a master calendar: class times, exams, assignment due dates, clinicals, whatever is relevant. Then add in everything from your non-nursing school life, such as doctor’s appointments and family commitments.

Many nursing school students swear by paper planners, but a digital calendar on your phone or computer makes it really easy to update events if the dates change around (no messy crossing out necessary!).

Get into the habit of adding things to your calendar as soon as they come up so you never forget a deadline.

 

#3.  Buy all your nursing school supplies

The most important nurse supplies you need as a nurse

Click to read more about some of the most important nurse supplies you need.

Your school should provide a list of everything you need for your classes.

Of course, you’ll need school supplies such as textbooks, notebooks, pens, pencils, highlighters, sticky notes and more.

However, you’ll also need a whole host of nursing-specific supplies, including scrubs, nursing shoes, a stethoscope, a watch, a lanyard or badge clip and various clinical supplies.

Take yourself shopping before the first day of school, and if you’re buying online, give yourself plenty of lead time for shipping so the items will arrive before classes start.

#4.  Follow nursing forums and blogs

While your mileage may vary depending on the quality of the writers, nursing forums and blogs are a great way to get your questions answered by more experienced nurses.  It may also give you a peek behind the scenes of real nursing work.  (For example, you are reading information from a nursing blog right now at www.mothernurselove.com!)

As podcasts have taken off, audio content has also become another great resource for nursing students.  Here are a few quality podcast resources out there for the aspiring nurse:

The Fresh RN podcast is hosted by experienced nurses from FreshRN.com who discuss the basics of that first year of nursing school. They discuss everything from (but not limited to) orientation, tricks of the trade, personal nursing experiences, time management, delegation, and even dealing with patient deaths.

  • Your Next Shift, with Elizabeth Scala, a podcast for nursing career stories and career techniques

The Your Next Shift podcast is great for helping you think outside of the nursing box!  There are so many ways that nurses can practice nursing.   Elizabeth has interviewed hundreds of nurses creating new career paths for themselves.  Her weekly episodes present listeners with “mindset shifts to be themselves and career techniques to do their best.”   It is also great inspiration for nursing students!

#5.  Connect with fellow classmates

nursing school students

Nurses should connect with other nurses to find additional support through the challenges of nursing school.

Your nursing school classmates will be in the trenches with you and understand exactly what you’re going through, which is why forging relationships with them is so important.

Most schools will host various social events during orientation, so make an effort to attend as many of them as possible. If you feel a connection with someone, don’t be afraid to make the first friendship move and ask them to get coffee or study together.

As the semester goes on, study groups will become invaluable to both your social life and your homework success, so join one or start it yourself.

 

#6.  Find a mentor

“Nurses eat their young” is a saying for a reason, and this mentality is what makes having a supportive mentor so much more important.

Ideally, you’ll have at least one mentor who is a much more experienced nurse and works in the specialty you want to pursue.

It can also be hugely beneficial to find a second mentor, this one a nursing school student who’s a year or two ahead of you. They can advise you on classes, faculty and all things school-related and give you inside tips on how to succeed.

 

#7.  Aim for the best…

smiling nurse

Prepare for the best as a nurse by setting goals!

Of course, you want to do well in school, but setting specific goals and documenting them will go a long way towards helping you succeed.

Figure out what doing your best looks like for you. This could be getting an A- or above in all your classes, doing some extra shadowing or taking advantage of every extra credit opportunity.

Then, break down each of your goals into specific concrete steps that you can complete one at a time to attain your goal.

#8.  …but prepare for the worst

That being said, life happens, and nursing school is hard.

While you can and should set big goals for yourself, be realistic about what you can achieve and don’t be too hard on yourself if you fall short. Getting a poor grade in a class—or even failing it—isn’t the end of the world or your journey to becoming a nurse.

If you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help and surround yourself with the support and resources that you need.

 

#9.  Make time for yourself

You’ll get overwhelmed really quickly if your life is all nursing school and no play.

Remember that master calendar you created? Now go back and schedule in some you time throughout the year. Read a book, take a hot bath, get a massage, do something for yourself that’s not work-related.

While many people recharge through being alone, don’t forget to schedule some social time as well, and keep nurturing your relationships outside of nursing school. Your non-nursing school friends might not understand exactly what you’re going through, but they will provide a much-needed reality check when you’re in the trenches.

In conclusion

Nursing school is an exciting but stressful time in any aspiring nurse’s life. Thankfully, being prepared can make everything go more smoothly.  We hope that these tips help prepare you for nursing school and move you towards a rewarding career as an RN.

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About The Author

Debbie Swanson, Real Caregivers Program at allheart.com

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

Additional recommended reading:

Don’t forget to sign up for our email list below!

how to prepare for nursing school

A Nurse’s Guide To Soothing Common Aches And Pains

A Nurse’s Guide To Soothing Common Aches And Pains

(This post about managing nurse aches and pains may have affiliate links.  You can find our disclosure page here).  

Written by Deborah Swanson at allheart.com

Nursing is tough on your body – even a single shift can lead to a variety of aches and pains!

Nursing also has incredibly high rates of occupational injuries, with 19,790 nonfatal injuries and illnesses occurring in 2016 due to workplace hazards.

While not every injury is avoidable, there are certain steps that nurses can take to prevent and manage some of the most common complaints.

Here are 9 strategies that will help you manage the aches and pains that come with being a nurse:

 

#1.  Wear comfortable shoes

NIKE shoes for nurses

Nurses must wear comfortable shoes to help manage and prevent back and body pain.

Wearing comfortable nursing shoes in the proper size will go a long way towards preventing and managing foot pain. Invest in good quality shoes, even if they cost a bit more, and replace them every three to six months depending on how much you walk per shift.

If you have foot issues, such as high arches or bunions, custom orthotic inserts will help correct your walking form and accommodate the unique shape of your foot.

 

#2.  Use proper form

Nurses standing tall

Standing correctly and using proper body mechanics will help decrease the likelihood and intensity of the aches and pains that come with working 12 hour shifts as a nurse.

Walking, standing and lifting with good body mechanics will help prevent occupational injuries. Walk and stand with your head high and shoulders back to keep your spine in alignment, while keeping your feet planted firmly on the floor and your knees slightly bent.

When lifting patients or objects, use your legs and not your back, and don’t twist at the waist while holding anything. When in doubt, ask for assistance rather than risk injury to yourself.

 

#3.  Try hot and cold therapy

Nurse using hot therapy to help manage neck pain

Using hot and/or cold therapy can help manage some of the minor aches and pains that come with working long 12 hours shifts.

If you’ve ever iced a swollen ankle or soaked your stiff muscles in a warm bath, you’ve used hot and cold therapy.

Heat promotes blood flow to an area by dilating the blood vessels, while cold reduces swelling by constricting them. Just make sure to match the type of therapy to your ailments—heat will make swelling worse, for example.

Ice Pack (2-Piece Set) – Reusable Hot and Cold Therapy Gel Wrap Support
  • Adjustable hot and cold packs offer therapeutic relief for myofascial, soft tissue soreness as well as stiff joints and aching muscles.
  • Safe for the microwave and freezer to easily rotate between icing and heating injuries.
  • Keep one in the freezer and one bag with your first aid kit ready to be heated up.
  • Includes Comfort Strap

Prices and images pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the respective Amazon site that you are redirected to at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

#4.  Book yourself a massage

If you can afford the time and money, booking yourself a massage can really help with serious muscle stiffness.

While you can massage your own feet at home, it’s hard to reach other areas like your back, which is why it helps to see a professional. You can book a standard Swedish massage or, if you can stand it, a deep tissue massage that really kneads the muscles.

Some massages also offer other add-ons such as hot stones or essential oil rubs if you’d like to treat yourself a bit.

 

#5.  Exercise and stretch regularly

female nurse doing yoga for exercise

Yoga can help relax the body and manage some aches and pains that come with working as a nurse.

The last thing you may feel like doing on your days off is exercise—but trust us, it really makes a difference.

The heat from exercise can help alleviate stiffness and soreness, and it strengthens your heart, lungs and muscles to better withstand a 12-hour shift.

For maximum benefits, you should do a mix of cardiovascular and strength training exercises, which can take many forms. Many nurses find Pilates and yoga especially beneficial for their gentle, low-impact poses and focus on core strength and proper form.

 

#6.  Wear compression stockings and sleeves

Man wearing compression socks

Compression socks and stockings can help nurses manage leg and foot swelling.

If you struggle with swollen, aching legs, compression stockings can help prevent them.

Gravity pulls down on blood, lymph and other fluids throughout the day, causing them to pool and making your legs feel tired and painful. Compression stockings provide just the right amount of graduated pressure to keep blood flowing and prevent fluids from pooling.

While compression socks are the most popular type of compression gear among nurses, if you suffer from swelling in other parts of your body—such as the upper arms—other types of sleeves and wraps are also available.

 

#7.  Consider losing weight

women on scale

Carrying extra body weight puts more pressure on joints and may cause additional body aches and pains for nurses working 12 hour shifts.

You can be unhealthy at any weight, but it’s true that carrying around excess pounds does put a lot of added pressure on your joints and muscles. Nursing already does a number on your body even if you are fit, but extra weight can compound the problem.

Losing even just a few pounds can lighten the load (literally) and help reduce inflammation and pain. Rather than trying to crash diet and lose a bunch of weight at once, focus on sustainable changes you can maintain over time. It’ll be easier to keep the weight off if you slowly transition to a permanently healthy diet rather than eating a very restrictive fad diet for a short amount of time.

 

#8.  Stay hydrated

water bottles for nurses working 12 hour shifts

Keep yourself accountable by keeping a water bottle with you at work

What if we told you there was a magical elixir you could drink that would lubricate your joints, protect sensitive tissues, regulate your body temperature, prevent kidney damage, deliver oxygen to your body, open up your airways, flush out waste and even boost skin health?

Well, that elixir exists—and it’s called water. Yep, good old H20 provides all these benefits to your health, which is why it’s so important to stay hydrated. In general, men need about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day while women need about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) a day. These fluids can come from food and other beverages as well as water. Make it a point to sip water throughout your shift as well as on your days off.

Hydro Flask 32 oz Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle
  • Meets your everyday hydration needs in one container, all while keeping it piping hot or ice cold

Prices and images pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the respective Amazon site that you are redirected to at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

#9.  Pay attention to warning signs

nurse foot pain

Don’t ignore aches and pains as a nurse, especially if they are not getting better with rest.

Don’t ignore your aches and pains. That’s how they develop into chronic problems. If you notice yourself developing the same symptoms over and over again after a shift, take action rather than waiting for them to become “something serious.” As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and you don’t want to risk developing a serious chronic condition that will impair your ability to do your nursing job or forces you to go on medical leave (or worse, make a career change entirely). If you take care of your body, in many cases, it will take care of you.

In conclusion

Nursing is hard on your physical health, but you don’t have to take it lying down—er, standing up. Follow these nine preventive tips to help fend off common aches and pains that often follow a 12-hour shift.

And always take care of yourself first, nurse!

 

About The Author

Debbie Swanson, Real Caregivers Program at allheart.com

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

Additional recommended reading:

Don’t forget to sign up for our email list below!

Tired Nurse Health Tips: When Sufficient Sleep Isn’t Possible

Tired Nurse Health Tips: When Sufficient Sleep Isn’t Possible

(This article about tired nurse health tips contains affiliate links.  Please see our disclosure page for more information.)

Nurses are needed round-the-clock, so what if getting enough sleep just isn’t possible?

It is no surprise to hear that getting enough sleep is important for good health.  In fact, a lack of sleep is connected to everything from increased risk of obesity, heart disease, depression and even getting in a car accident on the way home from work.

This is not great news for nurses working long 12 hours shifts.  Especially if they work mid-shifts, night shifts or swing shifts (alternating day and night shifts).

There is an abundance of information on why sleep is good for us and how to get more of it.  Those are easy tips to give when you don’t work long 12+ hour shifts throughout the day and/or night as a nurse.

But, when you add parenthood into the picture, getting enough quality sleep sometimes becomes impossible.  Just ask a shift worker with kids!

Getting enough quality sleep is always the goal

When we sleep our bodies do a lot of necessary and important work. Throughout the night (or day if you are a night shift worker) our body enters REM sleep (our dream state) between 3-5 times.  This is controlled by our body’s circadian rhythm, which is also responsible for helping to regenerate every cell in our body.

Without restorative sleep cycles our body loses the opportunity to regenerate our organs and cells.  We essentially lose our battery power.  Then we feel tired, cranky and unwell when we get up the next day.

But patient care is needed 24/7, 365 days a year and nurses are working some pretty crazy hours.

So the question is:  how are sleep deprived nurses supposed to care for their health when getting enough sleep is sometimes not a realistic option?

7 Nurse Health Tips When Getting Enough Sleep Isn’t Possible

Again – getting enough restorative sleep is the goal.  But if that is not an option due to your work and/or family schedule, here are a few tips to take better care of yourself in the interim.

1. Drink matcha green tea instead of coffee

a mug of match tea

Tired nurse health tip #1: drink matcha tea instead of coffee

Matcha green tea contains vitamin A and C, iron, calcium, protein, and potassium – none of which are found in coffee.  Matcha also contains types of antioxidants called catechins, which are 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.

In addition, matcha green tea provides a less jittery caffeine high than coffee.  That is because matcha contains L-Theanine, an amino acid that helps your body 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 you probably know, nurse break rooms are filled with junk foods like donuts and cookies.  Not getting enough shut eye may make you more likely to reach for those unhealthy snacks for extra energy.  Adding a cup or two of matcha green tea instead can help nurses get a little extra nutritional fuel while also maintaining alertness throughout the day.

MatchaDNA 1 LB Certified Organic Matcha Green Tea Powder (16 OZ TIN CAN)

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2. Get some exercise

Woman Running

Tired nurse health tip #2:  get moving for more energy!

When you’re sleep deprived, the last thing you want to think about is moving more.  But, sleep and exercise are inter-correlated with one another in a way that may benefit the sleep-deprived nurse.

First of all, when you are fatigued, getting in a little exercise might be exactly what you need to feel more energized and boost overall health.  I know what you’re thinking – lack of sleep makes people not want to exercise.  However, even a 20-30 minute brisk walk can help you feel better when you are fatigued.

Second, exercise has long been associated with achieving higher quality sleep.  Many nurses work odd hours – so the opportunity for slumber can fall at really odd times.   Evidence demonstrates that exercise helps you fall asleep faster and achieve better quality sleep – a benefit to shift workers who have difficulty sleeping during unusual times.

3. Pack a lunch bag

lunch box preparation

Tired nurse health tip #3: pack your lunch so you don’t reach for unhealthy snacks when you are tired!

When nurses are tired and short on time we tend to gravitate towards unhealthy convenience foods.   A helpful way to prevent this from happening is to prepare all of your meals and snacks for your shifts ahead of time.  By preparing ahead, you can plan healthy easy-to-grab snacks instead of reaching for the donuts or other junk food lurking in the break room.

Start by meal prepping one day a week, or if you are like me, just pack your lunch the day before your shifts.  As a mom, I’m always preparing food for my kids so I just use that time to make my own lunches as well.

Then it’s easy to pack it into your lunch bag the night before.

Here are a few healthy, easy snack foods for tired nurses on-the-go:

  • apples and almond butter
  • almonds or trail mix
  • smoothies (put all the chopped ingredients in a Nutribullet, add liquid and blend when you are ready to eat!)
  • veggies and hummus or guacamole dip
  • hard boiled eggs
  • cottage cheese and pineapple
  • string cheese
  • peanut butter and celery
  • pumpkin seeds
  • edamame
  • overnight oatmeal

BALORAY Lunch Bag for Women Insulated Lunch Box with Adjustable Shoulder Strap,Water-Resistant Leakproof Cooler Lunch Tote Bag for Work Picnic(G-206 Black&White Strip)

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4. Power napping

To be a healthy nurse you must get a good night's sleep.

Tired nurse health tip #4:  take power naps to recharge during the day.

Taking a power nap helps refuel your body in the middle of the day.

According to the National Sleep Foundation naps can:

  • Restore alertness, enhance performance, and reduce mistakes and accidents. In fact, a study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness 100%!
  • Naps can increase alertness in the period directly following the nap and may extend alertness a few hours later in the day.  Great for nurses working 12+ hour shifts!
  • Napping is psychologically beneficial and provides an easy way to get some relaxation and rejuvenation.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again –  nurses should have sleep pods at the hospital they can access during any break.  Imagine how much more productive we would be!

Mavogel Cotton Sleep Eye Mask - Updated Design Light Blocking Sleep Mask, Soft and Comfortable Night Eye Mask for Men Women, Eye Blinder for Travel/Sleeping/Shift Work, Includes Travel Pouch, Grey

Sleep Eye Mask (with travel pouch)

 

5. Avoid mindless social media browsing when you do have the opportunity to sleep

Nurse on smart phone using nurse apps

Tired nurse health tip #5:  sleep when you have the opportunity to sleep.  

Not only is 99% of social media browsing a huge time-suck, but the light from your cell phone really messes up your 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 its time for slumber. As a result, smartphone light can disrupt the sleep cycle which makes it hard to fall and stay asleep.

In other words, better quality sleep = happier, healthier nurse.

 

6. Drink lots of water (get a water bottle!)

Helpful tips to stay hydrated for nurses

Tired nurse health tip #6:  always have a water bottle with you at work so you drink enough water during shifts!

Nursing is a physically active profession.  In fact, many nurses are walking several miles and/or are on their feet for most of a single shift.  Making sure you are adequately hydrated can make a big difference in how you feel because dehydration can make sleep deprivation even worse.

Water helps carry nutrients to your body’s cells and helps remove waste.  Which is why when you are dehydrated you may feel tired and weaker than usual. Consuming a sufficient amount of fluids in beverages and water-filled food (such as fruits, vegetables, and soup) will help replenish the water your body loses throughout your shifts and can help you maintain your energy.

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 approximately 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.
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7. Do restorative yoga before bed

Woman doing child's pose.

Tired nurse health tip #7:  restorative yoga will help you fall asleep faster.

Restorative yoga is a great way to wind down from a shift at work, especially when you need a little TLC.  The practice allows you to be still, focus on your breathing and invite a sense of calm into your body.  All of which helps to relax the nervous system and prepare your body for a good sleep.

Yoga also helps relieve stress and anxiety that come with busy nursing shifts, especially when they are exacerbated by chronic sleep deprivation.  Start with a few rounds of deep breathing and tune into yourself.  Follow with a seated twist, knees-to-chest pose, happy baby, a reclining twist and then end your practice with your legs up the wall.

Why not start a nightly restorative yoga ritual to help to drift off to sleep peacefully instead of losing sleep by getting stuck on your phone?

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Tired yet?

Sleep is crucial for overall good health.  Unfortunately many nurses work unpredictable and unusual hours compared to the rest of the world.  That often leaves nurses in a position where no matter what they do, getting enough sleep during the night doesn’t always happen.

But when you prepare ahead, there are still other ways that you can take good care of yourself.  At least until you are able to get a good night of sleep!

Take care of your health, nurse!

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My 6 Biggest Nursing Career Fears As An Experienced RN

My 6 Biggest Nursing Career Fears As An Experienced RN

I recently wrote an article about my #1 biggest nursing career fear.

It was a hard post to write, to say the least.  It brought up a lot of emotions for me, but also helped clarify new career goals that I needed to set for myself.

At first glance it may seem to some that I did that to torture myself.  But there was a method to my madness.

I recently began a comprehensive writing and website development course that will take me at least 12 months to complete.  And one of my first assignments was to write about a major fear that I have that pertains to my current writing niche.

As a nurse mom blogger who writes about finding ways to help nurses take better care of themselves, I really put a lot of thought into this.  And I have come to the conclusion that one of the ways I want to take better care of myself is to NOT work as a floor nurse for my entire career.

Unfortunately, the wear-and-tear is starting to break me down.  I am afraid that what was once a cerebral challenge is starting to turn into full-fledged irreparable nurse burnout.

Never let feat decide your fu

Never let your fear decide your future:  my 2021 nursing career fear mantra

As a nurse blogger who frequently blogs specifically about the topic of nurse burnout, I have worked very hard to find solutions for my own exhaustion.

In fact, my #1 reason for starting a website was to create an outlet for my own overwhelm and fatigue as a nurse and new mom.

Over the last two years I have spent nearly every minute of my free time researching and exploring possible solutions for these struggles.  Then I write it all out clearly as I can with the hope that I am able to help myself and (hopefully) other nurse moms in my position.

And voila, it works!  For a while anyway.

But, sadly, I eventually find myself feeling burned out again.

So, in the spirit of continuing the blogging assignment I mentioned earlier, I am going to dive in and open up about all of my fears about my nursing career.

It saddens me to think that I may not be a direct patient care nurse for much longer.  The healthcare system needs great nurses. But I will always be a nurse, and as I like to say, a nursing practice can take many forms.

My biggest fears as a bedside nurse:

#1.  I fear physical injuries from years of nursing.

nurse neck injury

Nursing career fear #1:  physical injuries on the job

There is alarming evidence now that even proper lifting techniques expose nurses’s spines to dangerous forces.

In addition, 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%.

Many non-nursing professionals may be alarmed to hear that after only 7 years as a bedside nurse I am already feeling the wear-and-tear of being on my feet all day.  I already have chronic back pain.  My legs and feet ache for days after a 12 hour shift.

I do a lot of yoga as a preventative measure and it helps tremendously.  But as soon as I have another busy shift with a heavy patient load, the pain returns.  Especially, when I work with total-care patients.

#2.  I fear a life of burnout and constant exhaustion.

Nurse tired sitting in hospital hallway

Nursing career fear #2:  years of chronic exhaustion

I have written many times about my own exhaustion as a nurse and have even come up with several solutions to beat my own nurse burnout (at least temporarily).  But if I’m being honest, the only way I really even recover from burnout is to just not work at all.  It is amazing how much better l feel after stepping away from bedside nursing for a week.

Admittedly, I have created a few of my own unhealthy habits to cope with my nursing career.  Which is why one of my goals this year is to start taking simple steps to help keep my stress in check so that I don’t end up becoming a patient myself.

I realize now more than ever that, in order to care for others, I must to take care of myself first.   And the only proven way I have been able to do that thus far is to step away from the bedside and practice nursing in a different realm.

#3.  I fear verbal abuse and violence.

Stop violence against nurses

Nursing career fear #3: violence against nurses in the workplace

Abuse against nurses is very common.  In fact, nurses are expected to put up with levels of abuse that would NEVER be acceptable in any other professional setting.  I have been cussed at more times than I can count, in just about every colorful way you could imagine, for just doing my job.  And guess what?  Not one single abusive patient or family member as EVER been asked to leave the hospital.  Sadly, it appears that nurse abuse is acceptable and that nurses must deal with it as a part of the job.

Here is a recent example:  I had a patient verbally assault me in the most vile way possible when I brought them their scheduled life-saving anti-rejection medicines.  I explained that I was there to help them and calmly asked the patient several times to stop using vulgar language at me.  Finally, I told them I would find them a different nurse and left the room.

Tearfully, I told my charge nurse, who supported me and assigned the patient a different RN.  I found out later that the patient was so offended that I refused to be their nurse that they filed a complaint against me.  I also found out later that their were several other nurses in the days prior who had been putting up with the same exact verbal abuse.

Even worse, violence against nurses is prevalent (especially emergency room nurses) and  it usually isn’t even routinely tracked.  I have been lucky not to find myself the victim of direct physical violence as a nurse as of yet.  Many nurses have not been so not lucky.

#4.  I fear not having more earning potential.

To do list; make more money

Nursing career fear #4: not reaching a higher earning potential

Working for an hourly wage kind of sucks.  I am very driven and I have a great work ethic.  But no matter how hard I work as a nurse, I’m just not going to make any higher (or lower) than my hourly wage.  I could work more hours, but I am already experiencing a lot of nurse burnout and I have a family to take care of as well.

I often think how nice it would be to get paid more for working harder.  And I really want the opportunity to earn a better living.  Especially because we live in one of the most expensive cities in the US, and it’s only getting more expensive.

#5.  I fear having a terminal position with no growth opportunity.

nursing career growth

Nursing career fear #5: not growing professionally in my career

There are opportunities for nurses who want to move into administrative roles or become nurse practitioners if you are willing to go back to graduate school for a masters degree or PhD in nursing. (When you work in the UC system in California, you MUST have have Masters Degree In Nursing to move into administration.  No exceptions).

However, my bachelors degree in nursing was already my second college degree as I am a second career nurse  (I have a prior BA in journalism).  Not only was going to nursing school in my early 30’s the single hardest thing I have ever done in my life, it was also extraordinarily expensive.  In fact I know nurses graduating with over $100,000 in nursing school loan debt (I don’t have it in me to tell them they will likely never pay it off on a nurse’s salary- at least not in California).

In addition, I have a family now with two toddlers who need me – and I’m already a working mom.  So, I could spend a ton of money going back to school, spend almost no time with my family, have a whole bunch of brand new student loan debt, and have a terrible quality of life for the next 3+ years.

And quite honestly, the idea of being a hospital administrator doesn’t even sound very appealing to me.  Not to mention, many nurse practitioners are making less then bedside nurses.  Thus, I have a hard time seeing the benefit in more school at the moment.

#6.  I fear not putting my own needs first.

Make your dreams bigger then your fears

Nursing career fear #6:  putting my own needs last

In my first career I was a medical device sales person because I wanted the opportunity to make a significant amount of money.  A decade later, I became a nurse because I genuinely wanted to help people and save lives.  I wanted to do something that was so much bigger than myself.

I was proud to become a nurse, and I still am.  However, this profession revolves around constantly putting other peoples’s need first.  And it must, because our patients’s lives often depend on it.

But I have a family to care for too. And as a mom of young children I often feel that I am in constant “survival mode.” This leaves very little time for self care.

Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself

Thinking about the things I fear most is probably my least favorite thing to do.  In reality, I am a non-confrontational person and it feels unnatural for me to do a deep-dive into the things I am most afraid of.  Especially listing them one-by-one and publishing them on my website!

But, if I can’t be honest with myself about what I feel in my gut when it comes to my nursing career, then how am I supposed to grow and create a better future for myself and my family?

As a busy working mom, I hardly have time to think about myself as it is.  It would be a lot easier to pretend my fears didn’t exist and stay super busy until my kids turn 18 and go off to college.  But making big life changes is hard, even when they are the best thing for you.

Plus, I would be well into my 50’s by then!

And I don’t have time to waste on being afraid!

Do you have any fears as a bedside nurse?  Please leave a comment below!

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