Notice that this blog post is last in the series?
Do you put your health last in real life?
Earlier this year, we blogged about the ANA’s Year of the Healthy Nurse. Let’s revisit this subject!
Take care of yourself
LAUGHING. Wait, definitely laugh. A good, hearty, from the abdomen chuckle is intensely good for your body! We are serious about taking care of yourself, though. Let’s be honest — nurses have to laugh to keep from crying sometimes, right?
SLEEPING. The #1 thing to do to get through school is learn how to sleep. Ten hour sleeps at night will be a thing of the past, but you can learn how to sleep better. Things as simple as taking a 15 minute nap at work or between classes in the car can make all the difference between a focused you and a frantic you. Bonus points if you sleep on your text book (OSMOSIS!)
JOURNALING. Everyone knows you do not have time to keep a journal. Here’s why you should do it anyway. (1) You will need a place to vent and scream. Later, when you are calm, you can reread these written screams and gain perspective, learning and growing about who you are as a professional and as a person. (2) One day, nursing school will be nothing but a fuzzy memory. Believe it or not, you will want to remember friends, experiences, and see how you grew through the experience.
TAKING BREAKS. Sometimes taking a whole day or weekend off from everything — Facebook, email, studying, chores — is just what you need to get back into what needs to be done with renewed focus and energy.
BEING ROUTINE. Maybe it is a goal and would be great if you could quit smoking, decrease processed sugar intake, try managing your anxiety using essential oils and yoga instead of medication, change antidepressant prescriptions, or give up caffeine. DO NOT DO THIS DURING A SEMESTER. Do not change huge things about your less-than-desirable habits while you are in school. Deleting bad habits (crutches?) or changing medication routines is really best done during times of lower stress.
Picking up good habits can always be done, though. Adding in a long walk once each day or a quick run before each exam has far-reaching benefits for anxiety, stress, relaxation, and thinking. Scheduling a 15 minute neck and shoulder massage for every Monday after clinical practicum might be a nice treat to set the tone for the rest of the week. Arriving to class 45 minutes early to avoid traffic allows for extra study time and eliminates traffic as a stressor, reduces anxiety, and gives you a few extra minutes to get yourself organized for the day.
Habits you will want to maintain might include taking any medications as prescribed and on time, having family dinner each evening, and getting up early to have a cup of coffee in peace and quiet. Don’t eliminate things that bring your life stability and joy, not even for the sake of studying an extra 20 minutes.
- Set realistic goals with realistic expectations of self.
- Learn from mistakes and keep moving forward.
- Learn to problem solve, not problem dwell.
- Recognize your emotions and others’ emotions.
- Seek assistance from others when needed.
- Control yourself.
- Accept challenges rather than just avoiding problems.
- Figure out your weaknesses and strengths are.
HEALTH RED FLAGS
Nursing Fundamentals is a fun time with new friends learning to do cool stuff like taking vital signs and check capillary blood glucose levels using a glucometer. It is also a time when, inevitably, one or more students find out they have health issues they were unaware of such as hypertension or hyperglycemia.
Do not ignore your health or signs of declining health such as lethargy, palpitations, weight gain, excessive thirst, frequent “colds,” or frequent headaches. The body tells you when something is amiss. Ignoring these signs leads to increased cost, increased time out of work or school, and missed opportunities to progress toward your real goals.
Tell us how how you take care of yourself!