Nursing is about helping people in need, our ability to perform our jobs well can be affected by our mental and physical wellbeing. What happens when strain, fatigue and stress, affects us?
Stress can happen to the best of us, no matter how much we care for ourselves. Here, we’ve outlined a few actions that nurses can take to maintain positive mental health in their profession.
Make The Most Of Your Downtime
Once your working hours are confirmed by your employer, plan some interesting activities to do around your shifts that will take your mind off your time spent at work. Your free time is important to re-energising and relaxing. Think about actions to promote self care than anything else to really restore yourself.
Make plans with friends, whether that’s a lunch or a trip to the cinema. If you want some time to yourself, spend some time outside and go for a walk — if you’ve got a dog this is a perfect chance to get some fresh air and relax.
Focus on something creative, such as journaling, for instance, a great way of documenting your emotions. Reading, gardening or even just watching your favourite TV show will help you create some escapism from the pressure of your work shifts.
Take A Well-Deserved Break
Wasting those days off can worsen low moods – why not book some adventures so you have things to look forward to throughout the year to break up long stretches where you might feel overworked.
Britain is brimming with places to visit, such as Chester and Lincoln, while mainland Europe is just a short budget airline flight away, with Bruges and Paris dreamlike cities to explore for a long weekend.
It doesn’t matter where you go, setting eyes on a new place for the first time, while taking in a different culture and its surroundings, will broaden your perspective and lift your mood.
What’s more, you’ll have travel stories to tell when you return!
Make Healthy Choices
The easiest choices aren’t always the best choices over the long-term. Think about your diet. Is what you’re eating will making you feel better? If it isn’t, make positive commitments to being healthier.
Sign-up to a healthy eating plan. Learning a new recipe is a small but worthwhile feat, while wholesome and nutritious ingredients, such a protein and vegetables, are exactly what your mind, body and soul require.
Cut Down On Alcohol
Alcohol is a depressant, so think if it’s making you feel worse. If you’ve found yourself in a cycle of working and drinking, is it time to make a positive change that will affect your entire outlook?
Try to drink around 2 litres of water a day, especially when you’re working. Did you know that green tea is full of antioxidants and nutrients, with plenty of proven health benefits – add it to your shopping list!
Maintain A Regular Exercise Regime
Regular exercise has a huge effect on depression, anxiety and ADHD, while it also boosts mood, alertness and improves overall physical wellbeing. It’s the perfect antidote to a demanding job.
It might be the last thing you feel like before or after a busy day with patients, but the benefits will be huge, including massively decreasing your chances of obesity, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis.
Combine your healthy eating plan with regular exercise, whether you choose to run, cycle, swim, or hike. Why not get involved with a participation team sport like football, netball or basketball? Yoga is also ideal for promoting health, happiness and wellbeing. They’re also great ways to meet people.
Work up a sweat for 50 minutes of moderate and 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week, always keeping track of your progress. You could even set yourself some fitness goals to keep you going.
Develop Positive Relationships With Others
It’s always good to talk and be open with others, whether that’s friends, family or colleagues.
Sharing how you feel, and being open in and out of work, is a really beneficial way to deal with any issues or problems you might be feeling. You’re not on your own, other NHS nurses feel the same way as you.
Being vocal and speaking out is vital in a profession where tiredness and staffing shortages are directly affecting patient care, so talk to the right people and care for yourself as best you can.
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