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

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!

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

An eye mask will make it easier to nap during the day.

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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?

Leave your yoga mat out so you are reminded to use it!

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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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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:

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

Cat Pose

Cat 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.

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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.

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Additional Recommended Reading:

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

Simple Stress Management For Nurses

Simple Stress Management For Nurses

(This post about simple stress management for nurses may contain affiliate links. See our disclosure page for more information.)

Nurses are more stressed-out than ever.

It is no surprise that prolonged stress damages the body.  Yet many nurses are dealing with unchecked, chronic stress for years, or even decades.  Still, the passion that many nurses have for helping others drives them to continue forward in their nursing careers.  But who is helping nurses?

The unfortunate truth is that nurses themselves are the ones who must take care of themselves first.   Nurse safety and well-being are not being taken seriously by the very own hospitals where we work so hard and strive to give only the very best patient care.   Nationwide, it appears that hospital administrator’s main priority is making money for the hospital, and the health and well-being of their nurses doesn’t even make the list.

Nurse Stress Relief And Coping Tips

Simple stress management for nurses

Do some hospitals see nurses as indispensable?

For some nurses, it may feel like it.  Even I have felt that despite my own dependability, clinical knowledge, and positive attitude that it wouldn’t matter in the slightest if I left.    The feeling is disheartening.

For example, I became a per diem nurse after the birth of my first child because a unit director stated that they were “unable” to give me consistent scheduling so I could plan daycare for my child.  Per diem nursing gives me the flexibility to schedule my days to fit my childcare situation; however, now I have no benefits, no disability, no retirement, and no maternity leave – and I had another baby this year!  Needless to say, it was a hyper-expensive year for us and caused a lot of stress for me.

But, they knew another nurse would come along and fill my spot.  So why be flexible with my schedule so that I could stay?

I still have a passion for nursing, despite the stress.

Workplace stress in nursing is common.  I am not leaving the profession soon because my children are still very small, and I still do have a strong desire and passion for helping others.  So in the meantime, I make stress management a huge priority in my life.

If you are a nurse who feels like me, keep an eye out for nurse burnout symptoms that could be wreaking havoc on your overall health and happiness.  And start taking simple steps to help keep stress in check, so you don’t end up as a patient yourself.  Nurses shouldn’t be creating unhealthy habits to cope with their stressful nursing careers.  And if it becomes too much where your health is severely being affected negatively, then consider other nursing options away from the bedside.  Nurse, you need to take care of yourself first!

Simple Stress Management Techniques For Nurses:

1.  Watch a funny movie

When was the last time you had a good laugh?  Do you even remember how good it feels to laugh out loud?  Watching a funny movie is a great way to passively tune out and focus on something more light-hearted.  Especially for nurses who deal with immense stress in the workplace.

Studies show that laughter is so good for your health.  A good laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.  Also, laughter increases your immune system by decreasing stress hormones and increasing immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.

Laughter makes people feel good, which is precisely what stressed-out nurses need.   It releases endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Studies show that laughter has the power to promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

Woman watching a funny movie and laughing

2.  Get moving:  endorphins are natural stress reducers

Get your heart rate up on your days off!  The benefits of exercise have been well documented is essential for nurse self-care.  It is no secret that regular exercise helps control weight, boosts overall energy, improves your mood, and helps decrease stress levels.  Not only does exercise benefit the nurse personally, but it also allows nurses to have the stamina to give better care to patients as well.

Need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A brisk 30-minute walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed.  Which, in turn, will help manage caregiver burden and help you feel your best.

3.  Yoga:  learn the art of how to relax

Yoga is a great stress management tool for nurses. Compassion fatigue can be overwhelming for nurses, and learning how to use yoga for relaxation can help.

study published in Workplace Health & Safety on yoga for self-care and burnout prevention of nurses found that yoga participants “reported significantly higher self-care as well as less emotional exhaustion upon completion of an 8-week yoga intervention.” While the control group demonstrated no change throughout the course of the study, the yoga group showed a significant improvement in scores for self-care, mindfulness, and emotional exhaustion outcomes.

Nurse self-care in the form of yoga is scientifically proven to be beneficial:

  • Stress management.  A study published in the National Institute of Biotechnology Information investigated the effects of yoga on stress coping strategies of ICU nurses. After only eight weeks of yoga, the results showed that the participating ICU nurses had significantly better focus coping strategies and a significant reduction in perceived mental pressure.  (If that is what can happen after only eight weeks, imagine the impact a regular, permanent yoga practice could have on stress management levels!).
  • Prevent or eliminate chronic low back pain.  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%.  Yoga not only increases flexibility but increases muscle strength and prevents injuries such as chronic lower back pain.
  • Prevent burnout and compassion fatigue:  study published in Workplace Health & Safety on yoga for self-care and burnout prevention of nurses found that yoga participants “reported significantly higher self-care as well as less emotional exhaustion upon completion of an 8-week yoga intervention.”

 

4.  Have a social life

Good friends can help you manage chronic stress.  It is essential to find balance when you work as a nurse, and that includes making time for friendships and a social life outside of the hospital.

Nurses with strong social support have a reduced risk of many significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure, and an unhealthy body mass index.  Talking with other nurses who are struggling with the same stressors, you are can help provide support when you need it most.

Having a good social support group can help in many other ways:

  • Increase your sense of belonging and purpose as a nurse
  • Boost your happiness and reduce your stress
  • Improve your self-confidence and self-worth
  • Help you cope with traumatic situations in the workplace, such as patient deaths and abusive or combative patient situations
  • Supportive friendships can encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise

5.  Meditate

Meditation is the practice of focusing your mind on a particular thought or activity to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state.  It is claimed to reduce stress, anxiety, and burnout, and enhance resilience.  And stressed-out nurses working long, arduous shifts with often changing schedules need this more than anyone.

A few benefits of meditation:

  • Decreased burnout
  • Better focus and ability to ignore distractions
  • Boost compassion
  • Better sleep
  • Stress relief
  • Happier state of mind



Headspace is an app for your phone that has many different meditations, each lasting 10 to 60 minutes. If you can find 10 minutes in your day, then you have no excuse not to meditate!  Meditation is attainable for even the busiest of nurses!

Like yoga, meditation is a practice. There is no good or bad. It is just what it is at the time. You can keep practicing to train your mind to do better the next time. And then eventually your brain is rewired by the habitual repetition of meditation, and it becomes easier.

It is not uncommon for hospitals to have a space for spiritual prayer or meditation for patients and their families.  However, nurses should also be offered a meditative space to clear their heads and have a quiet moment to themselves.  This would help nurses return to their work environments with renewed energy and focus on giving better patient care.

6.  Eat nutritious foods

Nurse break rooms are notorious for having sugary snacks like donuts, cookies, or other unhealthy junk food all within an arms reach.  Sweets are so tempting to nibble on when you are tired and need a little extra energy.  But then a few moments later you crash and are even more tired.   On another note, eating nutritious and easy snacks will keep you energized during a 12-hour shift. 

Pack snacks like these in your lunch bag to help keep your blood sugar levels balanced during your shift:

  • Baby carrots, broccoli or other veggies & hummus
  • Celery and almond butter
  • Strawberries, blueberries
  • Granola and yogurt
  • Almonds or cashews
  • Avocado toast
  • Sliced apples and peanut butter
  • Cottage cheese with pineapple or banana
  • Trail mix

Tips for nurses to make healthy meals fast:  Try making a big batch of quinoa, brown rice, or black bean pasta to have handy in the fridge.  These are a few great staples that you can build a nourishing meal around.  When you get hungry, you can mix in a protein, veggies, nuts or seeds, dried fruits, or even just enjoy them with a little olive oil and sea salt.   The key is to have healthy food that is easy to prepare BEFORE you get super hungry.

P.S.  HEY, NURSES!  Remember to grab your FREE E-Book “The Nurse’s Guide To Health & Self Care” below! (scroll down)

Additional Recommended Reading:

Nurses Nurturing Nurses Interview With Jessica Smith, RN

Nurses Nurturing Nurses Interview With Jessica Smith, RN

In case you missed it, last week I was interviewed by the amazing Nurse Coach Jessica Smith and we talked about bouncing back from burnout.

Well, guess what?  I got ANOTHER chance to talk with Jessica this week about a topic that is near and dear to my heart:  nurses nurturing nurses!  (I had so much fun the first time, what can I say?!)

Our ‘Nurses Nurturing Nurses‘YouTube interview can be found HERE!

During the interview, we discussed:

  • Strategies you can use to attain a work-life balance with a busy nursing schedule;
  • How you can design your life around how you want to feel;
  • How doing simple things each day can make a BIG impact on your overall health and well-being;

I’d love for you to listen in – and even better – leave a comment!

Again, the link to listen in can be found here!

Take care,

Sarah

Additional Recommended Reading:
7 Ways To Beat Nurse Burnout
Nurse Burnout:  How Administration Can Help
How To Achieve A Work-Life Balance As A Nurse
Nurse Health:  Self- Care For 12 Hours Shifts