Nursing is a demanding job both in terms of the time it takes and the strain that it can place on workers. Keeping your cool and maintaining good health can be hard as a nurse, so here are some tips for making it easier.

Eat Before Your Shift

If you try to work an entire shift without any food in your body to provide fuel, then you’re going to find yourself becoming burnt and worn out very quickly. Everyone’s heard the expression that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but most of us don’t really take this quite as seriously as we perhaps should. Breakfast is definitely important, and if you are missing out on this initial boost at the beginning of the day, then it can throw you off for the rest of it.

This isn’t just an old platitude either, there is now good scientific evidence that suggests that a breakfast high in carbs can make a big difference to our body’s energy supply during those vital morning hours. If you are one of the many people who can’t face the morning without a good hit of caffeine, then you will be able to appreciate the difference that the right food or drink can make to your levels of alertness first thing in the day too.

Perhaps somewhat counterintuitively, research to the mayo clinic has shown that adults who eat breakfast are also better able to control their weight than those who don’t. Those who eat breakfast every day also are more likely to have the recommended levels of vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients in their diet.

Try to get into the habit of having something to eat before you start your shift even if it is only something small. The different shifts that a nurse has to work can often make it difficult to maintain a healthy and well-balanced diet, but if you fail to do so, then you will begin to notice the effects on your physical and emotional health.

Prepare Your Own Food to Bring

Many of us, including people who don’t work in the nursing industry, are guilty of taking the lazy option with our lunch almost every day. It is much easier to just walk into a nearby store and buy a prepackaged lunch to have. However, this is way more expensive than preparing your own food. Consider the difference in the price between a loaf of bread and a single pre-packaged sandwich. 

If you are willing to make your own food to bring in with you every day, then not only can you save money, but you can have control over exactly what you are eating. Maintaining a healthy and well-rounded diet is essential if you are going to maintain good, all-round health. Every single component of your physical health and your emotional health is dependent upon on you providing your body with the nutrients and essential amino acids it needs.

Another advantage to bringing in your own food with you is that you can always have some on hand. Sometimes, you won’t have time to get down to the canteen and get yourself a full meal, and the best you will be able to do is have a small snack. If you are feeling very hungry, then having even a small amount of food is better than having none, so keeping a stash of snacks in your locker is not a bad idea.

Make Sure You Have a Healthy Sleep Schedule

It is hard to overstate just how much of a difference our sleep schedules make to our overall health. Both your physical and emotional health is heavily dependent upon you getting enough rest at the end of each day. If you are experiencing sleep deprivation, then not only can it negatively impact all aspects of your health, but it can seriously compromise your job performance, which can, in turn, cause its own set of stresses and other issues.

Sleep deprivation is one of those things that affect far more people than most of us realize. In fact, it is something that is almost endemic among many populations. Nursing is perhaps among the most notorious jobs for the antisocial hours required of workers. Nurses do not have regular schedules in the way that most workers do and will often find themselves working additional shifts or working flexible hours in order to ensure the hospital can continue to run properly.

This lack of routine in their daily lives makes it more difficult for nurses to set a reliable sleep schedule. However, it is still possible to ensure that whenever the opportunity to make up for lost sleep arises, you take it. The effects of sleep deprivation are cumulative and can take some time to fully dissipate. You should, therefore, minimize the amount of sleep deprivation you experience as much as possible.

Balance Your Time

It is all too easy for any dedicated nurse to get a little bit too invested in their job, sometimes to the point where it interferes with their personal life. You should aim to try and strike a healthy balance between personal and professional considerations, which is often easier said than done. Not only are nurses kept busy while on the job, but the role of the nurse can sometimes be very emotionally taxing, which can, itself, be physically draining. Nurses, therefore, often bring their work home with them, and it can be difficult to simply switch off when you get home.

As nurses progress through their careers, many of them will also undertake studies for more advanced nursing qualifications. If you are going to be studying on top of everything else, then it is important that you don’t let it overwhelm you.

Nurses who are struggling to balance their time but still want to advance their careers should consider online degree programs like these nurse practitioner programs in Texas. Studying online provides nurses with more flexibility in terms of the time scale over which they will have to complete their studies and can significantly reduce the amount of stress involved.

Try to Avoid Caffeine Later in the Day

We mentioned the importance of ensuring that you get enough sleep earlier on. While most people are aware that caffeine can cause disruption to sleep, fewer people are aware that it can lower the quality of your sleep for around 12 hours after you ingest it. Ideally, you should try to eliminate caffeine beyond the first hours after waking up. For most people, this means not drinking any caffeine after the middle of the day, but for nurses whose daily schedules can vary so much, it is more difficult to set a specific time.

Wherever possible, you should try to maximize the amount of time you leave between your last cup of coffee, and the time at which you will next need to get to sleep. 

As a nurse, you will no doubt be doing a lot of your sleeping in the on-call room and will sometimes only be snatching hours of sleep whenever you can rather than settling in for a good night’s sleep. However, even if you cannot get a complete night’s sleep, you can still take measures such as avoiding caffeine to ensure that your sleep is as restful as possible.

Stay Hydrated

This is another very basic and yet very often overlooked health tip and one that can solve a number of common ailments. If you, for example, experience frequent headaches, then simply drinking more liquids throughout the day can sometimes be better than popping painkillers. There is some debate about what liquids are good and which are bad, and some people seem to think that it is only water itself that is worth drinking.

In actual fact, any liquid can hydrate your body, and while there are definite health benefits to trying to drink more water during the day, that doesn’t mean that you need to be drinking only water. And, if you drink too much liquid, not only can it ultimately cause problems of its own, but you will end up simply passing out useful nutrients as urine as you overload your body.

Nursing can be a stressful and high-pressure job, so it is no wonder that so many nurses find it difficult to stay on top of their own health as well as that of their patients. Nursing can quickly overtake physical, emotional and mental health unless nurses are prepared to defend them. Unless nurses take active steps to keep themselves healthy and lead as healthy lifestyles as they are able to, the pressures of the job can rapidly get too much even for the most resilient of nurses.

The advice above can help any nurse maintain their health throughout even the most challenging periods of their job. If your own health begins to fail, then it will become harder to treat that of your patients. Therefore, nurses should always try to take care of themselves like they would a patient.