Simple Mom Self Care Goals You Need Now

Simple Mom Self Care Goals You Need Now

You can’t pour from an empty cup.  Here are a few helpful mom self-care tips to keep yourself happy, healthy, and sane.

Easy, achievable mom self-care tips:

Go to sleep earlier

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

Sleep is essential for life. That extra episode of television is not worth the agony of next day exhaustion. Browsing through a cell phone before bed will make it harder to fall asleep and may even disrupt the quality of your sleep. 

Insufficient sleep hurts mental health. There is a reason sleep deprivation has been used in history as a torture method.

Find a way to relax that works for you

Woman doing child's pose.

For me, taking a bath is like flipping an internal switch from action mom to zen mom. No matter how crazy the day is, I can turn it off with a bath. I add a few essentials oils and bath salts and voila! It’s a makeshift spa session. 

Eat more plants

Eat whole, organic foods, including many plants. There is no secret diet menu, no matter what the billion-dollar diet industry is telling you.

Instead of continually focusing on what you are eating, try the 90-10 rule. If you eat healthy nourishing food 90% of the time (plant-based, organic, whole foods), then you can relax and not worry about it the other 10% of the time (have some wine, yummy dessert, chill). On special occasions, it may be closer to an 80-20 rule (because mom needs to have a little fun sometimes too!).

The point is that the occasional indulgence is a beautiful thing so long as you treat your body well regularly.

Besides, we can’t expect our kids to eat well if we don’t. We are responsible for teaching our children healthy habits from a young age so that they grow up with the nourishment they need to grow, learn, and be amazing humans.

Limit your social media

moms on cell phones

By limiting your social media exposure, you unconsciously stop comparing your life to others, and in turn, decrease your stress levels. Also, reducing your use of social media will leave you less distracted and be more present in more critical daily activities.

We all know that social media is not a real representation of what is going on in people’s 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). 

Take the time that social media is stealing from you and read a book, go for a walk, or meet a friend for coffee.

Say no more often

Permit yourself to prioritize the things that are most important to you. Mom’s needs come before getting every little chore completed. The laundry can wait until tomorrow if needed. The toys aren’t doing any permanent damage by lying on the floor a little longer. 

Sometimes when I put my daughter down for a nap, I have the intention of getting several chores out of the way. But I end up taking a nap myself instead. And I feel so much better as a result. 

It’s impossible to do every little thing. At some point, we have to say no. No apologies, just no.

What are you going to do to take better care of yourself this year?

Additional recommended reading:

9 Tips To Relieve Foot Pain From Standing All Day

9 Tips To Relieve Foot Pain From Standing All Day

(This post about how to relieve foot pain from standing all day may contain affiliate links.  Please see our disclosure page here.)

How can I relieve foot pain from standing all day for work?

If I had a dollar for every time I hear a nurse say they have sore feet I would be rich!  Where I work, it seems like everyone has sore feet at the end of the day.

Nurses know what it feels like to be on their feet for hours at a time.  And they need to care for themselves now more than ever – especially when it comes to foot care.

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 always on the top of the list.  It seems like everyone else wants to know how to relieve foot pain from standing all day as well.

Do your feet hurt after standing for 8-12 hours a day?

It’s no surprise that foot pain is such a common ailment.  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 or other professional who stands all day and is suffering from debilitating foot pain, there are steps you can take to help prevent or relieve the hurt.

Here are 9 helpful tips for how to relieve foot pain from standing all day:

#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 high quality, sturdy nursing shoes 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 how to relieve foot pain from standing all 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.

Additional recommended reading:

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.

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Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] 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.

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Prices 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 [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] 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 essential for good health.  A lack of sleep is connected to everything from an 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 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 essential 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 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.

Also, 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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You can make matcha green tea at home or work.

 

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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 strange 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 making 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 use that time to make my 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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A lunch bag makes it easier to pack healthier foods for work.

 

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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. 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 repeat it –  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 colossal time-suck, but the light from your cell phone 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 mind 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.  Many nurses are walking several miles and 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.  This 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 roughly 3.7 liters (125 ounces daily) of total water.  However, the reality is that a person’s size, activity level, and medical needs, among other factors, will result in different fluid intake requirements for different people.

Stay hydrated during your shifts by keeping your water bottle close by.


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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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Are you 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 can get a good night of sleep!

Take care of your health, nurse!

Additional recommended reading:

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7 Energizing Yoga Poses For Nurses (With Photos!)

7 Energizing Yoga Poses For Nurses (With Photos!)

Here are seven great yoga poses for nurses to start their shifts off on the right foot.

(This post is not a substitution for medical care.  Please consult with your physician before starting any exercise routine.  This post also contains affiliate links.  You can find my disclosure page here.)

Nurse practicing yoga pose

7 Energizing Yoga Poses For Nurses

What do you think would happen if every nurse did an energizing 20-minute yoga routine before every shift?  

Its likely nurses have a chance to clear their heads, connect with themselves, and give themselves a moment to prepare for the busy 12-hour shift ahead.  Not a bad way to start off the day.

Many nurses may underestimate the physical and mental wear-and-tear of long shifts.  The start the day fueled on cups of coffee and then they are not getting the rest and recovery they need afterward.

So, as nurses, we must do the best we can to take care of ourselves the best we can (obviously no one else at the hospital is going to help up out with that).  This includes giving our bodies the rest, rejuvenation and tender love that we give to our patients each shift!  No more self-sacrificing attitudes!

Yoga is a fantastic way for nurses to reconnect with their bodies and make sure they are in a healthy and happy mental state – both before and after a nursing shift.

7 Energizing Yoga Poses For Nurses To Start The Shift Off Right:

#1.  Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

A

Mountain Pose is a great yoga pose for nurses to start within the morning. Ground your feet and press evenly through all four corners of each foot.  Stretch your arms towards the floor and draw your abdominals in and up.

Hold for five to eight breaths to get focused and ready to move deeper into your practice.

Benefits of Mountain Pose:

  • Improves posture
  • Strengthens thighs, knees, and ankles
  • Increases awareness
  • Increases strength and mobility in the feet, legs, and hips
  • Firms abdomen and buttocks

#2. Upward Salute Pose (Urdhva Hastasana)

Upward Salute Pose

This is a great awakening pose for nurses before a shift.  From Mountain Pose, lift your arms up overhead and press your palms firmly together. Keep the tops of your shoulders released away from your ears and activate your triceps. Keep the abdominals engaged and the legs firm.

Hold for five to eight breaths.

Benefits of  Upward Salute Pose:

  • Stretches the sides of the body, spine, shoulders, and belly
  • Tones the thighs
  • Improves digestion
  • Helps to relieve anxiety and fatigue.
  • Helps create space in the chest and lungs

#3.  Cat-Cow Pose

Start on your hands and knees with your wrists directly under your shoulders, and your knees directly under your hips. Point your fingertips to the top of your mat. Place your shins and knees hip-width apart. Center your head in a neutral position and soften your gaze downward.

Cow Pose:  Inhale as you drop your belly towards the mat. Lift your chin and chest, and gaze up toward the ceiling.

Cat Pose: As you exhale, draw your belly to your spine and round your back toward the ceiling. The pose should look like a cat stretching its back.  Release the crown of your head toward the floor, but don’t force your chin to your chest.

Inhale, coming back into Cow Pose, and then exhale as you return to Cat Pose.

Repeat 5-20 times, and then rest by sitting back on your heels with your torso upright.

Benefits of Cat Cow Pose:

  • Brings flexibility to the spine
  • Stretches the back torso and neck
  • Softly stimulates and strengthens the abdominal organs
  • Open the chest, encouraging the breath to become slow and deep.
  • Calms the mind
  • Helps develop postural awareness and balance throughout the body and brings the spine into correct alignment

#4.  Downward-Facing Dog Pose (Adho mukha svanasana)

Downward-Facing Dog Pose

Downward-Facing Dog Pose

From neutral Cat Cow pose, push your hips up into Downward-Facing Dog Pose.

Press firmly into your hands and roll your up arms outwards. Lengthen up through your torso and keep your abdominals engaged. Actively use your legs to keep bringing your torso back in space.  Bend your knees if needed.

Hold here for eight to ten breaths.

Benefits of Downward-Facing Dog Pose for nurses:

  • Helps build bone density in the arms
  • Builds upper body strength
  • Decreases fatigue
  • Helps to decrease back pain and stiffness.
  • Helps boost circulation by putting your heart above your head

#5.  Warrior I (Virabhadra I)

Warrior I Pose

Warrior I Pose

Step your feet 3 1/2 to 4 feet apart. Raise your arms perpendicular to the floor (and parallel to each other), and reach your hands actively towards the ceiling. Firm your scapulas against your back and draw them down toward the coccyx.

Turn your left foot in 45 to 60 degrees to the right and your right foot out 90 degrees to the right.  Align the right heel with the left heel. Rotate your torso to the right, squaring the front of your pelvis to the front of your mat. As the left hip point turns forward.  Lengthen your coccyx toward the floor, and arch your upper torso back slightly.

Exhale and bend your right knee over the right ankle so the shin is perpendicular to the floor Reach strongly through your arms, lifting the rib cage away from the pelvis.

Stay for 30 to 60 seconds and switch sides.

Benefits of Warrior I Pose:

  • Stretches the chest and lungs, shoulders and neck and belly
  • Strengthens your shoulders, arms, legs, ankles, and back
  • Strengthens and stretches the thighs, calves, and ankles
  • Opens your hips, chest, and lungs.
  • Improves focus, balance, and stability
  • Energizes the whole  body

#6.  Forward Fold (Uttanasana)

Forward Fold Pose

Forward Fold Pose

Stand in Mountain Pose with your hands on your hips.  Exhale as you bend forward at the hips, lengthening the front of your torso. Bend your elbows and hold on to each elbow with the opposite hand. Let the crown of your head hang down. Press your heels into the floor and lift your sit bones toward the ceiling. Turn the tops of your thighs slightly inward. Don’t lock your knees.

Engage your quadriceps and draw them up toward the ceiling.  Bring your weight to the balls of your feet. Keep your hips aligned over your ankles. Let your head hang.

Hold the pose for up to one minute. To release, place your hands on your hips. Keep your back flat as you inhale and return to Mountain Pose. Repeat 2-5 times.

Benefits of Forward Fold:

  • Helps to relieve stress, headaches, anxiety, fatigue, mild depression, and insomnia
  • Stretches and lengthens your hamstrings and calves
  • Opens the hips and can relieve tension in the neck and shoulders.

#7.  Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Child's Pose

Child’s Pose

Child’s Pose is a beginner’s yoga pose often performed to rest between more difficult poses. The position stretches the thighs, hips and ankles and helps relax the body and mind.

Kneel on the floor with your toes together and your knees hip-width apart. Rest your palms on top of your thighs.

On an exhale, lower your torso between your knees. Extend your arms alongside your torso with your palms facing down. Relax your shoulders toward the ground. Rest in the pose for as long as needed.

Benefits of Child’s Pose:

  • Stretches the hips, thighs, and ankles
  • Reduces stress and fatigue
  • Relaxes the muscles on the front of the body
  • Elongates the lower back
  • Improves digestion
  • Calms the mind
  • Rests the body

Care for yourself first through yoga, so you can care better for patients after.

Nurses must get into the practice of taking good care of themselves first, so they can continue to take great care of patients as well.  After all, nurses serve as role models for our patients.   If we don’t take our own health advice, why should our patients listen to us about anything else?

A good way to start is by practicing these energizing pre-shift yoga poses for nurses.  And then see how much better you feel heading into your shifts!

Essential yoga props to start your yoga practice:

After 13 years of yoga practice and have tried many yoga props along the way.  You don’t need much to get started.  Here are a few of the yoga props I use at the studio and at home.

Yoga Mat

I love this yoga mat.   The quality is very good for the price.  I have this exact mat in my living room and after 2 years it still looks brand new.  It is soft with a relatively nice thickness compared to other yoga mats I have tried.  In addition, it has nice grooves that keep the mat in place.

ORDER NOW!

Yoga blocks (with strap included)

Yoga straps are useful for all levels of yoga practice and can provide support, help with alignment and improve posture.  In addition, I love the Manduka cork yoga blocks because I have had mine for 6 years and they still look brand new!  Unlike foam blocks, these don’t disintegrate over time due to sweat and regular use.  They are also heavier and more sturdy with a trustworthy grip.  It is a good idea to purchase 2 because many yoga poses require the need for two blocks.

ORDER NOW!

Additional Recommended Reading:

What are you doing to take better care of yourself, nurse?  Feel free to leave a comment below!

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.

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