5 Ways Nurses Can Practice Holistic Self-Care

5 Ways Nurses Can Practice Holistic Self-Care

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

Written by Deborah Swanson at allheart.com.

5 Ways Nurses Can Practice Holistic Self Care

Self care for nurses should not be an afterthought.

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

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

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

5 Ways Nurses Can Practice Holistic Self Cares

Holistic self care for nurses

Nurse Nutrition

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

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

Additional recommended reading:

Nurse Lifestyle

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

Additional recommended reading:

Woman Running

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

Environment

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

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

Additional recommended reading:

Nurse Financials

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

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

Additional recommended reading:

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

About The Author

Debbie Swanson, Real Caregivers Program at allheart.com

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

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

Why A Social Media Break Is Healthy For Nurses

Why A Social Media Break Is Healthy For Nurses

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

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

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

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

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

I did a social media break challenge for one week.

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

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

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

Why nurses need a social media break

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

3 Reasons Why A Social Media Break Is Healthy For Nurses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Recommended Reading:

13 Must Have Apps For Nurses

13 Must Have Apps For Nurses


Written by Debbie Swanson from allheart.com.

Smartphone and tablet apps can clutter your screen and bombard you with unnecessary notifications—or they can make your life as a nurse much easier and less stressful. But with literally millions of apps available, how can you tell which ones are winners and which are total duds?

Luckily for you, we’ve done all the research for you and rounded up 13 apps that nurses should download today.

13 must have apps for nurses, nurse using app on her phone

Here are 13 must have apps for nurses!

#1.   Eponyms

Ever have the name of a disease on the tip of your tongue, but couldn’t actually remember the term? Eponyms is for those moments. The app contains 1,800 common and obscure medical terms and offers full text search as well as 26 categories you can browse. Plus, you can star any eponyms you constantly forget for easy reference and use the “learn” mode to teach yourself new terms.

#2.  Medical Spanish

If you don’t speak Spanish, then this app can help you learn relevant medical terms and/or communicate with patients who do. The app includes over 6,000 entries over multiple categories such as subjective/questions, objective/instructions, assessment and plan and basic Spanish. As a bonus, the app does not require Wi-Fi and works offline.

#3.  MediBabble Translator

For those nurses who need to translate more languages beyond Spanish, MediBabble is a free, professional-grade medical translation tool that is currently available in five languages—Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Russian and Haitian Creole—with more coming soon. Spanish comes preinstalled and the other languages can be downloaded inside the app for free.

#4.  NCLEX Flashcards

This app helps nurses-to-be study for all aspects of the National Council Licensure Examination test: Safe and Effective Care Environment, Health Promotion and Maintenance, Psychosocial Integrity, Physiological Integrity and General Review. The app also offers five different learning modes—Study, Slide Show, Matching, Memorize and Quiz—to help you learn the 2,400 flashcards loaded on the app. Nurse on smart phone using nurse apps

#5.  Skyscape Medical Library

Skyscape has partnered with more than 35 publishers to offer more than 400 “greatest hits” pieces of content from the most trusted medical resources. The free base version of the app includes Skyscape Rx (comprehensive information on thousands of brands and generics), Skyscape Clinical Calculator (medical calculator with more than 200 interactive tools), Skyscape Clinical Consult (evidence-based clinical information on hundreds of diseases and symptom-related topics) and Skyscape MedBeats™ (news and information tailored to your specialty). Other premium pieces of content are available for in-app purchase.

#6.  Pill Identifier

Drugs.com’s searchable database comes in app form, covering more than 24,000 Rx/OTC medications found in the U.S. You can search by imprint, drug name, shape and color, and the app will return information including drug images, description/indication, pregnancy category, CSA schedule, strength and Rx/OTC availability.

#7.  Nursing Central

Don’t be fooled by the old school icon. This app gets rave reviews from nurses everywhere. As the name suggests, Nursing Central combines five best-selling resources (Davis’s Drug Guide, Taber’s Medical Dictionary, Davis’s Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, Diseases and Disorders and Prime PubMed) all in one app. It’s an efficient, easy-to-use, one-stop-shop for many of the most common questions that nurses have.

#8.  Taber’s Medical Dictionary

Speaking of Taber’s Medical Dictionary, this resource also comes as a standalone and is worth highlighting on its own merits. Taber’s contains over 65,000 terms, 1,200 photos, 32,000 audio pronunciations, 100+ videos and more than 600 patient care statements. The app also goes beyond definitions, providing nutrition and alternative therapy, medical abbreviations, symbols and units of measurement, immunization schedules, nursing diagnoses and updates.

nurse looking at app on phone

#9.  Nurse’s Pocket Guide

Nurse’s Pocket Guide provides all the information you need to look up the signs and symptoms of medical conditions, identify the associated nursing diagnoses and develop appropriate plans of care. The latest version of the app includes updated NANDA-I 2015-2017 diagnoses as well as NIC/NOC classifications. The app can be downloaded to your device and then used offline, so you can reference it even when you don’t have an internet connection.

#10.  Medscape

The classic medical information website for clinicians can also be downloaded to your phone in app form. The app allows you to look up medications and dosages with the Drug Reference Tool, research adverse drug combinations with the Drug Interaction Checker and find evidence-based patient care information with the Disease & Condition reference. The Medscape app also offers the latest medical news as well as other helpful resources, including step-by-step procedural articles, medical calculators, a pill ID tool, image collections, formulary information and more.

#11.  PEPID

PEPID has provided clinical and drug information to healthcare providers, hospitals and schools for more than 23 years. The company’s app combines information about drug interactions and allergies, medical calculators, a pill identifier, a note-taking function and more into a tool that one reviewer said “you’ll use as much as your stethoscope.”

#12.  Med Mnemonics

A mnemonic is a short rhyme, phrase or other mental technique that makes information easier to memorize. This app comes with more than 1,900 mnemonics to help you learn terms, symptoms and more, and it also includes the ability to add your own mnemonics to your personal version of the app. You can even submit your own mnemonics for potential inclusion in the next version of the app.

#13.  NurseGrid

Nurses are notorious for their complicated, shift-based schedules, which is why a couple of RNs created NurseGrid, the first calendar just for nurses. The app lets you easily add shifts, share your availability with your manager, sync with your favorite external calendar, swap shifts with colleagues, add shifts from up to eight different work sites and message both individuals and groups within the app itself.

If managing your schedule feels like a job in itself, NurseGrid can make things way easier on you and help remove some of the headache. From translation to dictionary references to calendars, these 13 apps cover a wide range of resources that nurses rely on every day. As a nurse, you’ve already got enough on your plate to juggle, so let these apps help you make your life easier. You deserve it!

Additional Recommended Reading:

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

About The AuthorDebbie Swanson, Real Caregivers Program at allheart.com

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

3 Reasons Why Nurses Quit

3 Reasons Why Nurses Quit

Why do nurses quit the profession?

Nursing is the most trusted profession in America and has been considered so for decades.   Yet, nurses are burning out at a rate unparalleled to any other profession.

Turns out that nurses may not be getting the same respect and care that they give to their patients and employers.   As a result, many nurses are looking for alternative ways to practice nursing or are even leaving the nursing professional altogether.

I became a nurse as a second career.  Nursing called to me because I genuinely wanted to help people and I thought that a nurse’s schedule would work better for me as a mom.  Now, 7 years into my nursing career, my passion for nursing is still high.

Yet I, like many other nurses, struggle with burnout.  I have even started looking outside of patient care for alternative ways that I can practicing nursing to deal with my struggle.

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

Reasons Why Nurses Quit

#1.  Not having control over work schedules

Hospital nurses are expected to work all hours of the day and night, holidays, and weekends.  And on top of that many nurses don’t even have control of their schedules (unless they work per diem – which has been a game changer for me). I can’t tell you how many times I have missed Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years parties, Easter Sunday, Fourth of July weekend and so many other special events with my family.

Now that I have my own children, missing these events is so much harder for me, especially if I have to work on one of their birthdays.  This past Christmas I was lucky enough to NOT work on Christmas Day, but I worked the entire 2 weekends before, the 2 days before Christmas and the day after Christmas, so I missed several Christmas parties and I was so tired on Christmas day that I could barely keep my eyes open.

Thankfully I am not working graveyard shifts anymore, but if I did I would have quit being a nurse a long time ago.  Working night shifts literally made me feel like I was going to explode.  I felt sick all the time, I was in a constant fog and I even started to get a little depressed.

Here is an idea that can help:  Work per diem or switch to another nursing position that requires a more regular 9 to 5 work schedule such as occupational health or the Cath lab.

#2.  Bullying in the workplace

You have probably heard the phrase “nurses eat their young.”  That is just a clever way of saying that there are many experienced and burned out older nurses bullying less experienced nurses.  It’s also a main culprit as to why nurses quit working in patient care.

I remember one of my own experiences with bullying very clearly. When I was a new nurse grad a nurse I gave report to at shift change would question everything I had done for my patients that day, and drill me about why I didn’t do things differently.  Her attitude was awful and I could tell she hated her job and being on the unit.  She had been there for many years and she treated several other new nurses the same way.

There were days where my shift had gone great up until I had to deal with her at the very end.  Then I left the hospital feeling defeated and inadequate just because of some unhappy, grumpy nurse. I did my best to hold my ground and keep my reports as simple as possible.

Eventually, (and thankfully) she quit and we never had to deal with her again.  Things got better for me, but unfortunately there are still nurses “eating their young” who are lurking within the hospital.

Here is an idea that may help: I took a course called “Crucial Conversations” during my second year as a nurse and it was so helpful for me.  It taught me how to deal with difficult situations with other co-workers. Sometimes addressing a bully head on or finding a way to avoid them entirely is the best way to handle the situation.

#3.  Abusive patients and/or family members

By and large, most patients and family members in the hospital treat the medical staff respectfully.  However, that is not always the case.

In my 7 years career as a nurse I have been kicked, swung at (thankfully never hit head on!), had a full urinal thrown at me, been cussed out, and told I should “kill myself.” And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  There are patients who, despite having full capability to execute all activities of daily living by themselves, take advantage of nurses and other medical staff by asking that everything be done for them.  It’s as if we have nothing to do all day except be a personal butler.  At least it can feel that way sometimes. I’d rather not be a character from Downton Abbey though!

Often when people are in the hospital it is because they are sick and need to be there.  Nurses are happy to bend over backwards to give the best patient care we can for those patients.  Unfortunately, there are people who take advantage of the caregivers and, over time, it leads to decreased morale and ultimately, burnout. This is another big reason why nurses quit the profession.

Here is an idea that can help: Nurse abuse is never okay and can be traumatizing for nurses.  Communicate with management any time a patient or family member is being abusive.  Ask for help.  Call security if you feel threatened.   Ask for another assignment or take turns with other nurses giving care to extremely difficult patients.   Talk to staff, family and friends to help talk out your experience. All of these things can help make dealing with difficult patients and their family a little easier.

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

If you are considering leaving the nursing profession altogether here are a few ideas to help rekindle your nursing career:

Are you a nurse struggling with burnout and considering leaving the nursing profession?  What experiences lead you there.  Please leave a comment!

Additional Recommending Reading:

Why I Quit My Corporate Sales Career To Become A Nurse

Why I Quit My Corporate Sales Career To Become A Nurse

I am a second-career RN who took an unconventional path into the nursing profession.

I began my first post-college career as a medical device sales representative selling medical equipment to hospital operating rooms.  Then after nearly 10 years in the business I decided to go back to college and earn a Bachelors of Science in nursing.

I hear about nurses becoming second-career medical device or pharma reps all the time.   But I have never known anyone who worked in medical device sales and then went back to college for a nursing degree.  Not once.

Here is my journey from budding journalist, to corporate sales manager, to nurse…  and the lessons that I have learned along the way.  

Nurse with stethascope discussing career change

As a young college grad, my priority was making money.

After graduating with a BA in Journalism in 1999, I was ready to start making money.  After all, I was broke and tired of being poor.  I was also passionate about living a healthy lifestyle, so a sales job in the healthcare field seemed like a natural fit.

Over the course of my decade career in sales I worked for a fortune 500 company and a few startups.  I covered huge territories and at one point even spent almost an entire year living out of a hotel.  It was a lot of hard work, but the money was there.

But I got better every year, despite a gnawing feeling that my calling was somewhere else.  My twenties flew by before my eyes.

One day after a lot of soul searching I finally decided to go back to school and earn a BSN.  My sales counterparts couldn’t believe I would leave the medical device industry after what most would consider a very financially successful career.  I tried to explain the best I could – that I wanted to be a part of something bigger then myself.  And medical sales just wasn’t doing it for me anymore.

Why I Left Medical Device Sales To Be A Nurse

At 22, my first priority was making money.  I knew if I worked hard in medical device sales I could earn more then most college grads my age.

I wanted to jump into procedures as a part of the medical team.

Even though I wasn’t an actual healthcare professional at the time, I got to work in hospital operating rooms and observe almost every kind of surgery.  It was through those experiences that I learned I wanted to be more truly clinical – instead of just repeat a sales pitch with each new physician who gave me the time of day.

More specifically, I wanted to jump in to the procedures that I was selling products and actually be a part of the medical team. Not sit and wait on the side lines for hours until they used the product I was selling (if they used it at all).

More importantly though, I was continually drawn to help people and learn clinical life-saving skills.  I was tired of going home every day feeling as if I wasn’t doing enough with my life to make the world better.

Sounds a little cliche, I know.  But this little voice in my head kept telling me that one day all I was going to say about my life was that I was a “sales person.”  And I wanted more than that.

So one day, l quit my career and went back to school to earn my RN.

Nursing school is the hardest thing I have ever done in my professional life.

I paid my own way through my nursing prerequisites and another college degree.  And let me tell you – college is so much more expensive now then it was in 2000.  I was lucky that I had such a large savings from my prior career to help get me through.

In addition, I also worked as a bartender at night – sometimes until midnight – and then had to be at a clinical rotation by 0700 the next morning.  I studied nonstop for 3 years.  Nursing school was so much harder then medical sales, or my first college degree for that matter.  In fact, I didn’t even know school could be that hard.

Still, I pressed on, feeling like I was going to get kicked out at any moment for failing a test (and 1/4 of my cohort actually did get kicked out, its a miracle I wasn’t in that group).  To this day, nursing school is the most difficult thing I have ever done in my professional life.

From Medical Device Salesperson To Registered Nurse

From medical device sales person to nursing school student (this is the only photo I have of myself in my nursing school scrubs).

I worked as a Certified Nurses Assistant in nursing school.

I worked as a CNA during my last year of nursing school and I both loved and hated it.  It was such as honor to give care to my patients in some of the worst times of their lives.   It was primary, basic care  – and it was important!  I tried to give my patients humility.   I helped people feel human when they felt invisible.

But being a CNA was also so challenging- both physically and physiologically.   This is because for the first time in my life I was not at the top of the food chain.  I sometimes felt like just a staff person boss around.  No longer did I have my salary plus commissions, my company car and expense account, my catered lunches, my bonuses and my stock awards at the end of the year.  And I really missed that.

I finally attained my RN, BSN title.

After three years of nursing school and a lot of sweat and tears, I finally graduated with my BSN.   I began my career specializing on a neuroscience and stroke unit and earned certifications as a Stroke Certified Registered Nurse and Public Health Nurse. In 2017, I began a new phase in my nursing career as an emergency room RN.

As I nurse there is always an opportunity to learn.

While being a nurse is exhausting and I have moments of extreme burnout, I do feel that nursing is my calling. I am a closet science geek and the love cerebral stimulation that I get as a nurse. I have had the opportunity to see more disease states, complex injuries and unusual diagnoses then I ever could have imagined even existed. It would not be an exaggeration to say I learn ten new things everyday at work.

To top it off, I am surrounded by some of the most intelligent people I have ever met. Many of my co-workers have the same drive for helping people I do. They motivate me to keep learning.

I am thankful for the professional experience I received in the corporate world as a medical device salesperson.

In fact, I am so grateful for my time in medical sales.  My experiences have given me a much different perspective than many of my nurse peers.  And I see my experiences as a huge advantage for my professional development.

Working in the medical sales industry gave me valuable business and communication skills.  I met a lot of great friends with whom I still have close relationships with.  My organizational and time management skills are much more fine-tuned and I learned how to be a professional in the workplace.

I just like to think of myself as being a little more well-rounded now. After all, the business women in me still exists.  But now I have the clinical prowess and expertise to match.

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

Additional Recommended Reading:

I would love to hear stories from other second-career nurses.  What did you do in your first career and how did you know you wanted to be a nurse?  Leave a comment below!

7 Quick And Easy Workouts For Busy Nurses

7 Quick And Easy Workouts For Busy Nurses

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

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

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

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

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

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

7 Quick And Easy Workouts For Busy Nurses

7 Quick And Easy Workouts For Busy Nurses

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

Bodyweight Exercises

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

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

Running

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

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

Plyometrics

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

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

Kickboxing

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

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

Aerobics

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

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

Abs

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

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

Women doing bodyweight exercises

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

HIIT Workouts

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

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

Now, its time to get moving!

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

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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 interviewing caregivers and writing about them and loves gardening