If you know anything about me at all, you know that I absolutely LOVE yoga (its a little obsessive actually).
And as you also know, I really love to write about why nurses need to practice yoga.
In particular, travel nurses have a lot on their plate! They take travel assignments in cities where they’ve never even been and then work in different units with entirely new staff. And then when they finally think they have everything figured out their assignment ends and they go someplace else!
On top of that, they also have the physical and mental stress that comes with working 12 hours shifts.
Travel nurses need yoga.
By taking care of ourselves we are able to replenish our reserves and take better care of our patients and families. There is an endless amount of studies on yoga and its amazing benefits on physical and mental health.
As nurses, we need to practice what we preach and help lead our patients by example. Why should our patients take better care of themselves both physically and mentally if we are not doing it ourselves?
My Yoga Props Essentials:
I love this mat because it doesn’t get slippery once I start getting sweaty during a yoga practice. It is a thicker, more durable mat with a great chakra design.
Cork yoga blocks are the best. I love these blocks because they are durable and have a really good grip. They can assist with alignment and help you get deeper into many yoga poses.
These are amazing for restorative chest opening poses! I have 2 of these in blue and purple. I use them all the time to help me wind down after nursing shifts. I also love using the booster to put my hips and legs up the wall after being on my feet for a twelve hour shift!
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
Yoga for nurses: we need to care for ourselves first.
Yoga’s amazing benefits for physical and mental health are well documented. The Mayo clinic has stated that “yoga helps reduce stress, lower blood pressure and lower your heart rate” among several other benefits.
Every nurse knows that the stress from patient care over a 12 hour shift can be exponential. Yet many nurses aren’t giving themselves the tender loving kindness we give to our patients! (I have written before about why nurses need to practice yoga if you are interested in reading).
Yoga is more then just exercise. It offers caregivers a way to give themselves more self care (ahem, nurses). It helps us take even better care of our families, our patients and ourselves.
Why Nurses Need Yoga And The Essential Props You Need To Start Your Practice- Mother Nurse Love
1. Stress management
Nurses have a high workload in many hospital wards. The stress is compounded by managing patient healthcare needs and treatments, daily occupational stressors and even the many frequent changes in technology.
A study published in the National Institute of Biotechnology Information investigated the effects of yoga on stress coping strategies of ICU nurses. After only 8 weeks of yoga the results showed that the participating ICU nurses had significantly better focus coping strategies and a major reduction in perceived mental pressure. If that is what can happen after only 8 weeks, imagine the impact a regular, permanent yoga practice could have on stress management levels.
2. 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%. Fortunately, the review also presented an overwhelming amount of studies that found that regular yoga significantly reduced symptoms associated with chronic low back pain and greatly improved overall physicality.
Yoga stretching not only increases flexibly, but increases muscle strength and prevents injuries such as chronic lower back pain. In a career as physically demanding as nursing, the more physically stable we are, the better care we can give to ourselves and our patients.
3. Prevent burnout and compassion fatigue
Lack of self-care can easily result in burnout and compassion fatigue in the nursing profession. As much as I hate to admit it, even I have questioned how long I can continue with the immense workload and emotional drain that is required of me as a nurse. Thankfully, I have found a productive way to manage this is through yoga and meditation. They help reignite my passion for encouraging others to take better care of themselves.
A 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.
My yoga prop essentials list to start your yoga journey:
I have practiced yoga pretty religiously for 12 years and have tried many different things along the way. These are a few of the yoga props I use at the studio and at home that are good for anyone starting their yoga journey.
I love this yoga mat. The quality is very good for the price. 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. A Velcro carry strap comes with the yoga mat to keep it rolled up nicely.
Yoga for nurses: yoga mat
I love the cork Manduka 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.
Yoga for nurses: yoga block
This yoga strap is useful for all levels of yoga practice and can provide support, help with alignment and improve posture. This one even comes with a DVD to show several ways you can use the strap.
Yoga for nurses: yoga strap
If you are going to purchase both cork blocks and the strap you can get a little bit of a discount by purchasing them as a bundle.
Yoga for nurses: yoga blocks and strap
Yoga makes you feel good!
Don’t we all want to feel good in our own skin? Yoga empowers nurses to create a happier, healthier and more productive work environment by making us the best version of ourselves.
For better or worse, nurses serve as role models in the healthcare community. We need to practice what we preach. Why would a patient listen to our advice on how to life a healthy life if we are not living one ourselves?
Are you a busy nurse or mom who is interested in starting a yoga practice? Do you already have a yoga practice? What are your thoughts? I would love to hear!
Happy yoga practicing!
Sarah, Mother Nurse Love
(This post may contain affiliate links. My disclosure page is really boring but you can find it here.)
An app for meditation? Huh?
Those were my thoughts when my husband told me about an app called Headspace that he had been using for 30 days straight. And then he suggested that I start using it too (apparently he can tell when I’m not handling stress very well).
Headspace is an app that has many different meditations each lasting 10 minutes. So I really don’t have an excuse that I don’t have time because it’s only 10 minutes!
Meditation is harder than it looks.
Meditation is harder than it looks.
I have been practicing yoga for about 11 years on a regular basis. In that time I have probably meditated (or attempted to meditate- it can be a challenge!) hundreds of times.
The only thing that is consistent for me in meditation for me is that it’s always a little bit different each time. In other words, it’s not consistent at all.
Some days when I reach Savasana at the end of my practice I drift peacefully and effortlessly into the depths of meditation and I feel like I’m floating on a cloud.
On other days, my brain won’t stop reminding me of my to do list or rehashing a conversation with a really mean, difficult patient from my last shift at the hospital.
Like yoga, meditation is a practice. There is no good or bad. It just is 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.
Setting aside time for meditation is the first step.
Since the birth of my daughter 20 months ago meditation has been a stretch for me and it than it has in a really long time. It’s hard to train your brain to relax when your mother of a toddler with a career as an RN.
And I really just don’t have a time like I used to (isn’t that everyone’s dilemma?). Since Zoe graced us with her presence the only times I have really truly been able to meditate have been when I have been lucky enough to squeeze in an actual studio yoga class. Which to be honest, is not frequently.
I do some yoga at home every day. But it’s mostly some stretching, a couple a sun salutations, an inversion or two, and then I call it a day. Sometimes I may even get to do it twice (usually next to my daughter if she’ll play long enough by herself) for anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes or so.
Thing is I never actually get to the meditation part. And I am really craving more meditation in my life.
So one of my new goals is to try and fit in 10 minutes of meditation every day. No excuses!
This is where the app, Headspace, comes into play.
Mediation requires at least a few minutes of uninterrupted time. Don’t confuse meditation with taking a nap!
As I mentioned earlier, my husband introduced me to this app a couple of months ago. He had just completed 30 straight days of practicing meditation with it. I had noticed that he had been chill in recent days, and now I know why.
I had thought he was just laying down to take a quick nap. Ha! He was actually listening to the app on his headphones under the covers. Sneaky…
I dabbled with the app for the first time a few weeks ago. I tried sitting still with my headphones on while sitting on my couch while my daughter was napping. But my heart wasn’t in it and I just couldn’t get into the idea of using an app for meditation. So I quit.
But this week I got some interesting news that reminded me that I need to be taking better care of myself and not stressing myself out to the max! I won’t go into that now. But the point is it can be a good thing to get a little nudge of consciousness that says the only person responsible for your health is you!
Funny, that’s the exact thing I say to my patients. Hmmm….
So now I’m giving this Headspace app thingy a whole new chance. If it works so well for my husband, why am I not all over this thing?
I tried it tonight and it was, well, nice actually. I definitely chilled out, felt my muscles melting into the floor, much like I used to after yoga class.
The instructor has a nice soft British voice that was calm and cool and walked me through the process of letting go of my thoughts.
It felt really awesome to be meditating again actually. I’m going to try to do it tomorrow before I get out of bed. If I happen to wake up before Zoe does.
Ill let you know how I feel after 30 days!
Sarah, Mother Nurse Love
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Nurse Life: How To Find A Work Life Balance
Why Nurses Need To Practice Yoga: Self Care For The Caregiver
7 Ways To Beat Nurse Burnout