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.

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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

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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!

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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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Top 21 Best Nurse Coffee Mugs

Top 21 Best Nurse Coffee Mugs

*This post about nurse coffee mugs contains affiliate links.  For more information please see our disclosure page.

Coffee, anyone?  Yes, please.

Since becoming a nurse and the mother of two amazing little humans, my caffeine consumption has reached and all-time high.

In fact, I’ve been so tired for so long that I don’t even remember what my life was before I became a daily coffee consumer.  (Parenthood will do that to ya!).

But being a tired nurse and mom is where life is for me at the moment.  Coffee for me, quite literally, is my life blood.  Not to mention, it bring me joy.

After all, they say that its the little things in life that make us the happiest, and for most of my mom and nurse friends, drinking a great cup of joe fits that statement perfectly!

 

Great coffee needs a great coffee mug

I appreciate having a great mug or travel container to drink coffee now that I am constantly on the go.  Mainly because nurses and moms knows there is no time to sit and rest – there are just too many people to take care of!

I’m not even a little ashamed to say I have even become a bit of a coffee snob.  (Although I have recently switched it up a but by adding matcha green tea into my caffeine regimen for a little extra antioxidant power.)

But developing my coffee habit isn’t the worst thing that could have ever happened.  After all, there is scientific evidence that drinking coffee is may be beneficial to overall health in many ways:

Coffee benefit #1. Drinking coffee may undo liver damage caused by booze.

Even though my college party days are long behind me, this was still great news to hear.  Researchers analyzed data from nine previously published studies with a total of more than 430,000 participants and found that drinking two additional cups of coffee a day was linked to a 44% lower risk of developing liver cirrhosis!

Coffee benefit #2:  Coffee may help you live longer.

A Stanford University study that tracked 100 people over several years, and found that coffee drinkers tended to live longer than non-coffee drinkers.  The authors theorized that  increased caffeine consumption might counteract the “fundamental inflammatory mechanism associated with human aging.”

Coffee benefit #3:  Regular coffee consumption may be good for your heart and brain.

The American Heart Association and the University of Colorado School of Medicine found that risk of heart failure or stroke went down 8 percent for each additional cup of coffee per day.

The top 25 best nurse coffee mugs:

Now that we know that coffee is not only essential for our daily function as nurses and also may benefit our brains and body, there is only one more thing left to do. And that is to find the best nurse coffee mugs to enjoy our delicious brew…

With no further ado and is no particular order, here are the top 25 best nurse coffee mugs!

[amalinkspro type=”showcase” asin=”B0073J9K0W” associate-id=”mothernurse0b-20″ new-window=”true” addtocart=”false” nofollow=”true” sc-id=”4″ imgs=”LargeImage” link-imgs=”false” specs=”Yellow background with raised message Im a Nurse, Whats your super power?~~~Hand painted ceramic decal message mug in exquisite deisgn~~~Interior of Mug is green! Measures: 4 1/2 H x 3 Opening. Holds 12 oz.~~~Dishwasher safe/FDA approved/Microwave safe.~~~Comes in beautiful coordinating gift box” btn-color=”#ff9900″ btn-text=”View on Amazon” alignment=”aligncenter” hide-prime=”1″ hide-image=”0″ hide-reviews=”0″ hide-price=”1″ hide-button=”0″ width=”750″]Nurse 12 Oz Coffee Mug/cup with”I’m A Nurse” What’s Your Super Power?” Great Gift For Nurses[/amalinkspro]

[amalinkspro type=”showcase” asin=”B07FXM9DPL” associate-id=”mothernurse0b-20″ new-window=”true” addtocart=”false” nofollow=”true” sc-id=”4″ imgs=”LargeImage” link-imgs=”false” specs=”Awesome gift for nursing students~~~Arrives ready to be gifted: packaged perfectly and ready to wrap as a gift~~~Proudly produced and printed in the USA” btn-color=”#ff9900″ btn-text=”View on Amazon” alignment=”aligncenter” hide-prime=”1″ hide-image=”0″ hide-reviews=”0″ hide-price=”1″ hide-button=”0″ width=”750″]Nursing School Survival Mug [/amalinkspro]

[amalinkspro type=”showcase” asin=”B01FV18OO6″ associate-id=”mothernurse0b-20″ new-window=”true” addtocart=”false” nofollow=”true” sc-id=”4″ imgs=”LargeImage” link-imgs=”false” specs=”Made with high quality ceramic~~~Microwave and dishwasher safe, high quality ceramic~~~Printed on both sides~~~Personalized for you favorite nurse!~~~Created in the USA” btn-color=”#ff9900″ btn-text=”View on Amazon” alignment=”aligncenter” hide-prime=”0″ hide-image=”0″ hide-reviews=”0″ hide-price=”1″ hide-button=”0″ width=”750″]Personalized!! Stethoscope coffee mug for nurses[/amalinkspro]

[amalinkspro type=”showcase” asin=”B07B4CH59Y” associate-id=”mothernurse0b-20″ new-window=”true” addtocart=”false” nofollow=”true” sc-id=”4″ imgs=”LargeImage” link-imgs=”false” specs=”White 11 ounce coffee mug with easy grip high quality ceramic. Dishwasher & microwave safe.~~~Makes the perfect nurse gift!~~~These are ORIGINAL LICENSED Designs Made By Estis Baby Couture. Made in the USA~~~IMAGE PRINTED ON BOTH SIDES” btn-color=”#ff9900″ btn-text=”View on Amazon” alignment=”aligncenter” hide-prime=”1″ hide-image=”0″ hide-reviews=”0″ hide-price=”1″ hide-button=”0″ width=”750″]Cute Enough To Stop Your Heart Skilled Enough To Restart It Nurse Mug[/amalinkspro]

[amalinkspro type=”showcase” asin=”B00R6PQD12″ associate-id=”mothernurse0b-20″ new-window=”true” addtocart=”false” nofollow=”true” sc-id=”4″ imgs=”LargeImage” link-imgs=”false” specs=”Design: Light blue mug with cream trim on the rim and on the top of the handle. ~~~Size: 4 3/4H X 3 Opening and holds 18oz~~~Material: Porcelain~~~Dishwasher/Microwave safe, FDA approved” btn-color=”#ff9900″ btn-text=”View on Amazon” alignment=”aligncenter” hide-prime=”1″ hide-image=”0″ hide-reviews=”0″ hide-price=”1″ hide-button=”0″ width=”750″]I’m a Nurse Superpower Light Blue 18 Oz Mug[/amalinkspro]

[amalinkspro type=”showcase” asin=”B0798RVQZW” associate-id=”mothernurse0b-20″ new-window=”true” addtocart=”false” nofollow=”true” sc-id=”4″ imgs=”LargeImage” link-imgs=”false” specs=”11oz coffee and tea cup~~~Makes a great nurse gift!~~~Satisfaction guaranteed~~~Made in the USA” btn-color=”#ff9900″ btn-text=”View on Amazon” alignment=”aligncenter” hide-prime=”1″ hide-image=”0″ hide-reviews=”0″ hide-price=”1″ hide-button=”0″ width=”750″]I Love Caffeine PO Q4H PRN[/amalinkspro]

[amalinkspro type=”showcase” asin=”B07DRD3N9N” associate-id=”mothernurse0b-20″ new-window=”true” addtocart=”false” nofollow=”true” sc-id=”4″ imgs=”LargeImage” link-imgs=”false” specs=”Nurse Uniform mug from Our Name is Mud~~~Message reads: Nurses Call the Shots~~~Shipped in decorative gift box~~~High-quality stoneware is dishwasher and microwave safe~~~16 oz. capacity” btn-color=”#ff9900″ btn-text=”View on Amazon” alignment=”aligncenter” hide-prime=”1″ hide-image=”0″ hide-reviews=”0″ hide-price=”1″ hide-button=”0″ width=”750″]Nurses Call The [/amalinkspro]

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[amalinkspro type=”showcase” asin=”B01EA3EZSK” associate-id=”mothernurse0b-20″ new-window=”true” addtocart=”false” nofollow=”true” sc-id=”4″ imgs=”LargeImage” link-imgs=”false” specs=”Great Present Idea for Mothers Day, Nurses Week / Christmas.~~~The ideal gift thats personal, always useful and never fails to please.~~~HIGH QUALITY CERAMIC MUG – This perfect sized Coffee mug is available in 11oz or 15oz sizes.~~~MICROWAVE AND DISHWASHER SAFE – guaranteed to last – HIGH QUALITY CERAMIC MUG.” btn-color=”#ff9900″ btn-text=”View on Amazon” alignment=”aligncenter” hide-prime=”1″ hide-image=”0″ hide-reviews=”0″ hide-price=”1″ hide-button=”0″ width=”750″]I Am A Mom And A Nurse – Nothing Scares Me Funny Coffee Mug [/amalinkspro]

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5 Simple Steps For Laundry Room Safety

5 Simple Steps For Laundry Room Safety

*This post is sponsored by the American Cleaning Institute to help parents understand how important it is to practice laundry safety, including properly storing and handling laundry packets. You can find our disclosure page here.

Children are so naturally curious

In the early baby days, I knew if I walked away for a few minutes that my babies would be in the exact spot I left them. Therefore, the urgency to child-proof every nook and cranny in our home wasn’t there…yet. After all, they were completely immobile for almost the first year of life!

But with each new, curious day comes another baby milestone (or so it seemed).

First, it’s the rollover (so exciting!). Then baby develops an army crawl. And, before you know it, they pull themselves up to a stand.

Then, boom, you have your very own baby-walking machine! A little unstable, but a baby on the move nonetheless. All the while putting anything and everything they come in contact with into their mouths.

As exciting and adorable as it is to watch, it is also the time those curious minds can do their wobbly, little Frankenstein walk and come into contact with substances that they should not touch – such as household cleaning supplies… 

So, in case you didn’t already know: now is the time to make sure your house is 100% baby-proofed! No excuses!

Safety first, always

As an emergency room nurse, I have witnessed first-hand plenty of accidents involving children that could have been prevented- including the ingestion of household items. It only takes a second for those tiny, delicate hands to get into trouble when a home isn’t properly child-proofed.

But I get it, I’m a mom too – parenthood can be overwhelmingly busy and I also sometimes feel I’m being run over by a tiny human army I created myself (and I usually am!).

It is so easy to forget to child-proof your home when you have 1,000 things on your to-do list. But if you take a few simple steps and have systems in place that will prevent accidents from happening, then it will make your life so much easier in the long run. Especially if something bad happens that could have easily been prevented.

Babies and children of all ages need safe spaces to move around and learn in safe environments. Many accidents that bring our little ones to the emergency room can be prevented and avoided altogether.

So in honor of Emergency Nurses Week in October and my desire to encourage other parents to take an active stance in child-proofing their homes, my #1 safety message this year is to encourage parents to put their Packets UP!

Keep laundry packets up and away from kids!

Don’t forget to child proof the laundry room

The laundry room is one of those places in the home that is the last to be childproofed, if it even gets child-proofed at all.

That’s why I’ve partnered up with the American Cleaning Institute to help parents understand how important it is to practice laundry safety, including properly storing and handling liquid laundry packets. Accidents involving liquid laundry packets are 100% preventable!

I’m talking about taking simple steps to keep the laundry room safe at all times. By putting a few simple systems in place, you won’t have to worry about accidental poisoning and you will be proactively preventing avoidable child injuries.

Think of it like this: Playtime + child-proofed home = SAFE SPACE for baby and child growth and learning opportunities!

(The ER nurse in me geeks out about safety-proofing.  You should see our home – even my husband has a hard time getting into closets and drawers.  But at least I know our kids are safe!).

Laundry room safety. Packets up!

Keep the laundry room safe by keeping your packets up!

Simple child safety tips in the laundry room

Step #1: Keep liquid laundry packets out of reach

Keep all laundry products in a designated out of reach and in an area that children can’t get into.

If you don’t have a cabinet with doors to hide your cleaning products available, place liquid laundry packets (in the original packaging) into a larger bin with other laundry and household products and put it up high where children won’t be able to see it.  

Step #2: Don’t keep laundry packets on display

While clear or glass jars can be an Instagram-worthy way to display household items, storing liquid laundry packets visibly in these jars could attract unwanted attention from young children. Always keep liquid laundry packets tightly secured in their original packaging, stored up and out of reach.

Step #3: Keep laundry packets separate from groceries

When purchasing laundry packets and other household cleaners from the store, have them bagged separately and put them away in their designated safe storage spot – out of sight and out of reach – as soon as you get home and unpack your groceries.  

Step #4: Make safety checks a priority

Conduct routine safety checks in the home to prevent accidents.

Tip: Consider making a sign in the laundry room to remind yourself to check your laundry packets and make sure they are stored properly and out of children’s reach. That way use can ensure safety each time you do the laundry. If you have a housekeeper or someone else who does the laundry, have a conversation with them about how important it is that they also follow your laundry room safety rules.  All adults in the house need to be on the same page.

Toddler playing with household cleaners at home

If a liquid laundry packet is ingested:

Call the Poison Help Line immediately at 1-800-222-1212.

In conclusion

I hope this messaging can help parents understand how important it is to practice laundry safety, including properly storing and handling laundry packets. Safety is the number one message here, and I hope this helps to encourage and remind all parents to find simple ways to keep all laundry products up and away from little ones in the home.

Let’s have ZERO accidental laundry product accidents this and every year. Safety first!!

Remember these key laundry packet safety points:

  • It is so important to store liquid laundry packets up high and out of sight and reach.
  • Don’t forget to completely close and seal liquid laundry packet containers after use.
  • Finally, always store liquid laundry packets in their original containers.

For more information about the Packets Up campaign:

Visit packetsup.com for more information and tools to help you prevent exposures from liquid laundry packets.  You can also join the conversation: follow #PacketsUp for the latest laundry room safety tips and information.   

Order a free cling and put it on your cabinet as a safe storage reminder.

Stay safe!

4 Reasons Why Nurses Should Drink Matcha Green Tea

4 Reasons Why Nurses Should Drink Matcha Green Tea

(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.

Nurses should drink matcha green tea instead of coffee

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!

Electric Kettle

 

Organic Matcha Green Tea

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Additional Recommended Reading:

9 Personal Self Care Goals I Set For Myself as a Nurse

9 Personal Self Care Goals I Set For Myself as a Nurse

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.

9 Personal Nurse Self Care Goals

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 less 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 less holidays as well.  Same goes for weekends.

9 Personal Self Care Goals I Set For Myself As A Nurse

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 whammie.

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 its 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’s 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!

9 Personal Nurse Self Care Goals

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.

In conclusion….

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!

Additional Recommended Reading:

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