Nursing may be all about helping people in need, but it’s just as important to look after yourself. Poor mental and physical wellbeing, caused by strain, fatigue and stress, affects our ability to perform our jobs well – so how can we prevent this?
Stress can happen to the best of us, no matter how much we look after ourselves. That’s why we’ve outlined a few simple actions that nurses can take to maintain positive mental health in their roles.
Make The Most Of Your Free Time
Once your working hours are confirmed by your employer, you should plan fun and 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, prioritising self care to really restore yourself.
Make plans to spend time 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 will fulfils you creatively. Journaling can be a great way of documenting your emotions. Reading, gardening or even just watching your favourite show or listening to music 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. Book some trips so you have things to look forward to throughout the year to break up long stretches where you might feel overworked.
Britain is bursting 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.
Plus, you’ll have travel stories to tell when you return to work!
Make Healthy Choices
The easiest choices aren’t always the best choices over the long-term. Think about your current diet – is what you’re eating making you feel better. It can be all too easy to resort to convenience food in your work break, but try seeing food as fuel and make positive commitments to being healthier.
Sign-up to a healthy eating plan or treat yourself to a new recipe book. Learning a new recipe is a small but worthwhile feat, while wholesome and nutritious ingredients, such as protein and vegetables, are exactly what your mind, body and soul requires to stay healthy.
Cut Down On Alcohol
Alcohol is a depressant, so it could be 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 is great for boosting mood, alertness and improves overall physical wellbeing, and has a huge effect on depression, anxiety and ADHD. 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. Even having a quick stroll during your break can be beneficial. 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 take the time 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.
We’re Here To Help
We work with some of the most recognisable establishments in the country to place capable medical professionals where they can find true fulfilment in their work. Head to our job search page to start searching for an alternative medical role that suits you