Nurses aren’t immune to heart disease or other cardiovascular issues. In fact, due to the high-stress demands, it could be argued that Nurses and other healthcare providers have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular issues.
Nurses should care for themselves as much as they care for their patients.
Starting with these tips can help to lead to a healthier heart.
Happy Feet, Happy Heart
A 2006 study of nurses found that the average distance traveled during a 12-hour shift was around 4-5 miles. Nurses who rely on their shifts to get their exercise will find that they are not getting the same stress-reducing effects of those nurses who also include regular aerobic and strength training. Working long shifts can also make you so tired that having the energy to exercise can seem impossible. Following these tips may make it easier for you to start exercising*.
- Purchase comfortable shoes and even more comfortable insoles. Having tired feet can make it even harder to exercise, so investing in good shoes really is the foundation for any exercise program.
- Go for a power walk each day, including your day off.
*If you haven’t exercised in a while, it’s a good idea to run it by your primary care doctor before starting a new exercise routine.
Keep a regular schedule
Working in healthcare can mean long irregular hours that will reap havoc on your body and mind if you don’t take precautions. Try to grab at least 7 hours of sleep every day around the same time. If you must work different shifts, try to clump the different shifts together, such as working 3 night-shifts in a row. Scheduling your sleep may feel abnormal in the beginning, but as time goes on it will become more natural, and your body and mind will thank you.
Studies have shown that learning a new skill can help reduce stress more than some other relaxation techniques. Medline University, the CDC, and RN.com have hundreds of hours of free training on patient safety, stress relief, and workplace fatigue, among many other subjects. And don’t forget to ask your employer about what they offer for tuition reimbursement or other on-the-job training opportunities.
It may seem selfish to think about yourself while you’re on a shift caring for patients, but your continued success as a caregiver begins with taking care of yourself.
Here’s Another Reason Night Shifts Ruin Your Life
Vetter C, Devore EE, Wegrzyn LR, et al. Association Between Rotating Night Shift Work and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease Among Women. JAMA. 2016;315(16):1726–1734. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.4454
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