August is National Wellness Month. And surprise, surprise; this month focuses on self-care, stress management, and creating healthy routines. In other words, it draws attention to every single thing nurses are terrible at. Yikes! To be fair, nurses are overworked, underpaid, and forever short staffed; leaving minimal (if any at all) time for any sort of self-care. But that needs to change. Today. Right now. The only way a nurse can prevent severe burnout is if she invests in herself. And it doesn’t have to mean a full blown, ten grand vacation to some exotic location. No siree; it can be something small and take only a matter of minutes. As long as you feel like you did something for yourself, you’ll feel a whole lot better when you scrub in for a long shift. Here are my top picks for an all-around, feel-good physical and emotional boost!
1. Track your water intake. Yup; I said it. Sounds super mundane, I know. But keeping yourself healthy and hydrated is one of the easiest, cheapest and BEST ways to take care of yourself. Not only will you feel better, but your skin will look clearer, it’ll keep you fuller and subsequently prevent that mid shift snack binge, and it will 1,000% leave you feeling energized. Get yourself a funky water bottle with some motivational quotes written all over and don’t stop drinking:)
2. Exercise, exercise, do your daily exercise… There is nothing like a good sweaty, workout. You may have a hard time dragging yourself to a class or out the door for a run but you will feel so invigorated when you are done, you will literally be able to conquer the world; uh, I mean your shift! And bear in mind that while an exercise class or a session in the gym is incredible, it can in no way compete with the positive psychological effects that working out in the great outdoors provides.
3. Practice deep breathing. It’s as simple as pie and makes a world of a difference. You and I both know that stress is no good for your health. It may cause you to hold your breath or even to take shallower breaths, all without you even realizing it. So, if your start feeling stressed out, or if you’re about to enter a high-pressure work environment, try the 4-4-8 technique. You’ll breathe in for 4 seconds nice and deep, through your nose and all the way into your abdomen. You will then hold it for 4 seconds. And then let it alllll out through your mouth as you count to 8. Ahhhhhhh!
4. Get your nails done. That’s right; head over to your nearest nail salon and treat yourself to a manicure. You’ll feel like a lady, and your hands will look pretty to boot!
5. Pamper yourself with a massage. If you’re a nurse on your feet all day, I can only imagine what wonders a massage that targets your back and legs will do. And I don’t care if you have all the right compression hose and the most expensive nurse clogs; your feet still have to hurt somewhat and a great, long, relaxing massage is one of the best things you can treat yourself to.
6. Streeeeeetch. It may seem almost useless, but a good stretch in the morning should be as much a part of your morning routine as a cup of coffee is. Not only does stretching preserve mobility as your body gets older, but it also keeps your muscles and joints strong and prevents injury. In fact, according to experts at Harvard Medical School, the most important areas for mobility are in the lower half of your body. Hello nurses are on their feet for 12-hour shifts!
See! Nothing here suggests you break the bank:) By simply taking the time to do YOU, you’ll have the energy to keep working those long shifts!