Nursing is about helping people in need, but what happens when poor mental and physical wellbeing, caused by strain, fatigue and stress, affects our ability to perform our jobs well?
Stress happens to the best of us, no matter how much we care for ourselves. That’s why we’ve outlined actions hard-working nurses can take to maintain positive mental health.
Make The Most Of Your Downtime
Once your working hours are confirmed by your employer, you should plan interesting activities to do around your shifts that will take your mind off your time spent at work. Use this important time to re-energise and relax, thinking more about self care than anything else to really restore yourself.
Schedule in plans with friends, whether that’s a lunch or movie date. If you want some time to yourself, spend some time outside and go for a walk — even better if you’ve got a dog.
Focus on something wholesome that fulfills you creatively, with journaling, for instance, a great way of documenting your emotions. Reading, gardening or even just watching your favourite series will help you create some escapism from the pressure of your work shifts.
Take A Well-Deserved Break
Wasting days off can worsen low moods, so book 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.
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 requires.
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 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.
Being open in and out of work sharing how you feel, is the best way to deal with underlying issues you might be feeling. You’re not alone, other NHS nurses feel the same way as you.
Being vocal is vital in a profession where tiredness and staffing shortages are directly affecting patient care, so speak to the right people and care for yourself as best you can.
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