Time-Saving Strategies for Nurses to Prioritize Their Health
Time-Saving Strategies for Nurses to Prioritize Their Health
by Greta Kviklyte
Life Saver, AMC
Co-authored by Kim Murray, RN, M.S.
posted on Jun 28, 2023, at 5:15 am
In the demanding world of nursing, time is a precious resource, often in short supply. With increasing patient influx and heightened precautions, nurses face the challenge of balancing their own health while dedicating long hours to public welfare. This blog post delves into the effective strategies employed by nurses globally to maintain their well-being, both within and outside the hospital environment. By implementing these proven techniques, nurses can optimize their time, enhance their productivity, and contribute to improved public health outcomes.
Mindfulness: Staying Present-Focused for Optimal Health
Nurses recognize the significance of staying present. By cultivating mindfulness practices, such as meditation and deep breathing exercises, nurses can manage stress, enhance emotional well-being, and make better choices for their health. Research indicates that mindfulness reduces the intensity of emotional responses, leading to increased adaptability and resilience.
According to one study, individuals who practiced mindfulness for eight weeks exhibited reduced amygdala responses to emotional stimuli when compared to the control group, as observed through MRI scans. This finding indicates that the mindfulness group developed better resilience towards stressful events and improved their ability to regulate their emotions, preventing them from becoming overwhelmed.
Organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emphasize the detrimental effects of unchecked stress on immune function when faced with extreme situations, such as pandemics. Experiencing high levels of stress increases the likelihood of falling ill. Therefore, if you aim to maintain optimal health, it is crucial to take proactive steps to manage stress, and this begins with cultivating a present-focused mindset.
Harnessing the Power of Positive Affirmations
Positive affirmations play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy mindset. Nurses can apply evidence-based techniques rooted in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to reframe negative thoughts and foster a positive outlook. Studies demonstrate the effectiveness of CBT in managing anxiety, depression, and other lifestyle-related conditions, empowering nurses to prioritize their well-being.
What affirmations could be used to maintain a healthy mindset? Here are several of them you could start using:
“Each day, I am filled with vitality and positivity.”
“I am committed to nurturing my body with healthy choices and self-care.”
“I am proactive in maintaining my health and well-being during challenging times.”
“I radiate confidence and optimism, knowing that I am taking care of myself.”
“I attract positive energy and wellness into my life.”
“I am surrounded by a supportive and caring healthcare community that uplifts and inspires me.”
Not only does this uplift your mood, but when you incorporate CBT principles, you increase the likelihood of making further healthy choices due to your optimistic perspective.
Seeking Inspiration by Consuming Uplifting Content
Taking a few minutes each day to engage with inspirational materials can have a profound impact on nurses’ well-being. Whether it’s reading a positive book passage, listening to a motivational podcast, or practicing guided meditation, these activities promote relaxation, mental clarity, and overall focus. Such intentional breaks contribute to improved psychological and physical well-being.
Seeking Professional Support
Nurses facing overwhelming situations can benefit from professional counseling. Allocating even an hour a week for a therapy session can make a significant difference in managing stress and fostering emotional resilience. Many medical employers offer employee benefits packages that cover these sessions, making them easily accessible.
Relaxation and Stress Reduction
Stress is a common companion in the nursing profession. Deep breathing exercises provide a simple yet effective technique to counter the physiological effects of stress. By reducing cortisol levels and activating relaxation hormones, nurses can feel more calm, energized, and better equipped to handle their demanding roles.
Healthy Alternatives for Relaxation
To unwind after a long day, nurses often turn to unhealthy substances or habits. However, prioritizing self-care involves seeking healthier alternatives. Engaging in physical activity, taking a relaxing shower, disconnecting from electronic devices before bedtime, or maintaining a gratitude journal are effective alternatives that promote restful sleep and a refreshed mind.
Opting for alternative approaches can help calm the mind and improve sleep quality. Engaging in exercise a few hours before bed, taking a relaxing shower before bedtime, keeping electronic devices aside at least 30 minutes before sleep, or writing in a gratitude journal are all effective methods. By adopting these practices, you can experience enhanced sleep and a greater sense of productivity throughout your day.
Emotional Reflection: Processing Feelings for Personal Well-being
Suppressing emotions can lead to increased stress and mental exhaustion. Nurses now acknowledge the importance of dedicating time to process their feelings. By allowing themselves to experience and process emotions such as anger, fear, or grief, nurses can practice self-care and improve their ability to provide compassionate care to patients and loved ones.
Prioritizing Healthy Eating Habits
Preparation is key to maintaining a healthy diet amid a busy nursing schedule. Nurses can save time and make healthier choices by packing nutritious meals and snacks for their shifts. Incorporating a variety of vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains into pre-cooked meals ensures access to balanced nutrition and reduces reliance on unhealthy options.
Quality Sleep is a Vital Component
Incorporating adequate sleep into your routine is crucial for maintaining optimal health. Studies show that sleep deprivation can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of sickness. Getting enough sleep allows your body to produce cytokines, which help fight infections and reduce inflammation, promoting better overall health.
Dedicated Time for Family: Reducing Stress and Boosting Immunity
Spending quality time with loved ones is essential for reducing stress and enhancing immunity. Being in a safe and comfortable environment activates the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting happiness and well-being. Additionally, this helps reduce inflammation and improves the body’s response to emotional stress and physical pathogens.
Increasing Confidence in Emergencies: Enhancing Preparedness and Reducing Stress
Feeling confident in emergency situations allows nurses to respond quickly and effectively, potentially saving lives. Confidence also helps reduce stress levels. Staying up to date with ILCOR-approved best practices for cardiac emergencies and utilizing algorithms can boost confidence and ensure patient and personal safety.
Algorithms designed for cardiac events offer precise instructions to strike a balance between a nurse’s safety and the well-being of the patient. These algorithms encompass various scenarios and are categorized as follows:
- Adult Basic Life Support Algorithm
- Advanced Cardiac Life Support Algorithm
- Pediatric Cardiac Arrest Algorithm
- Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Algorithm
In addition to these algorithms, there are user-friendly mobile applications like the MediCode app. This app enables nurses to conveniently access the algorithms on their smartphones during emergency situations.
Mindfully Following Safety Protocols for Personal Safety
Maintaining personal safety is crucial for nurses’ well-being. Following medical center safety protocols and taking extra precautions as necessary can protect nurses from unnecessary risks. By valuing their own health and safety, nurses contribute to protecting national health and their ability to care for patients effectively.
It is officially stated and emphasized that safeguarding medical workers is an effective means of safeguarding national health. As a nurse, your role in saving numerous patients is invaluable. However, if you become ill, your ability to provide care diminishes. While altruism is commendable, it is not the primary requirement in a world grappling with situations like the recent pandemic. What the world truly needs are medical professionals who prioritize their own well-being and take appropriate measures to maintain their health whenever possible.
Preparing Easy Meals in Advance
Preparing meals in advance can help nurses maintain a healthy diet, even with a busy schedule. Pre-cooking staples like beans, lentils, and whole grains provide quick and nutritious meals. Adding various flavors and ingredients ensures a diverse and enjoyable weekly culinary experience.
Getting Fresh Air: Improving Mental and Physical Health
Spending time outdoors and breathing in fresh air has significant benefits for both mental and physical well-being. Research suggests that spending just 15-30 minutes in nature can improve overall health. Opening windows for cross-circulation and removing infectious particles is also recommended to reduce the risk of contracting diseases.
Finding Opportunities to Laugh: Activating the Parasympathetic Nervous System
Laughter, even if forced, activates the parasympathetic nervous system and boosts immune function. Incorporating humor into daily life, such as following fun social media accounts, can provide a daily dose of laughter and promote overall well-being.
Cultivating Healthy Work Relationships: Surrounding Yourself with Positivity
Positive work relationships are essential for maintaining good health. Spending time with negative individuals can negatively impact well-being, so it’s important to foster a positive outlook and encourage the same in coworkers. Limiting exposure to negative influences helps prevent being drawn into a cycle of negativity.
Setting Realistic Goals: Incremental Steps Towards Health
Setting realistic goals is crucial for long-term success in maintaining health and well-being. Instead of overwhelming yourself with multiple changes at once, approach it like you would a patient. Choose one realistic and achievable goal, commit to it, and practice it consistently until it becomes a habit. Once you have successfully integrated one goal into your routine, move on to the next one. By taking incremental steps, you’ll make sustainable progress without feeling overwhelmed.
Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself
It’s important to remember that nobody is perfect, and setbacks may occur along your health journey. Don’t let past mistakes or slip-ups discourage you from continuing your efforts to stay healthy. Embrace each day as a fresh start and an opportunity to do better. Learn from any setbacks and use them as motivation to improve. By adopting a positive and forgiving mindset, you’ll maintain the motivation and resilience needed to prioritize your health.
Create a Stretch Goal: Striving for Ultimate Health and Achievement
While setting realistic goals is essential, it’s also important to have a long-term vision for your health. Consider creating a stretch goal, which is a more ambitious objective that aligns with your ultimate health aspirations. This could be improving the management of a chronic condition to reduce medication needs or training to participate in a marathon within a specific timeframe. By setting a big goal, you’ll stay focused and motivated while working on smaller, more achievable goals along the way.
Make Exercise a Priority: Boost Energy and Reduce Work-Related Risks
Regular exercise is vital for maintaining energy levels, reducing stress, and improving overall health. Even if you already engage in physical activity while working on the hospital floor, it’s important to dedicate specific time for exercise. Incorporate activities that build strength, endurance, and flexibility into your routine. By prioritizing exercise, you’ll enhance your physical well-being, reduce the risk of work-related injuries, and feel more energized to tackle your daily tasks.
As a nurse, prioritizing your health and well-being is essential for maintaining your overall vitality and providing quality care to your patients. By implementing these effective techniques, such as setting realistic goals, being kind to yourself, striving for stretch goals, and making exercise a priority, you can enhance your physical and mental well-being. Remember, each day presents an opportunity for improvement, so embrace the journey toward a healthier lifestyle. Share your own strategies for staying healthy in the comments section below and inspire others in the nursing community.
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