How to Stay Physically and Mentally Healthy as a Nurse

Nursing can be an incredibly stressful, yet rewarding profession.

While developing relationships with patients is rewarding, the fact is that long hours paired with the job’s physical demands and worry about making life-changing errors put LPNs and RNs at risk for being anxious and neglecting their own health needs.

In order to stay mentally and physically healthy, nurses need to foster relationships outside the job, stay active, exercise regularly and not feel guilty about carving out much needed “me time.”

Connect with Friends and Family:

It’s important to have a good rapport with co-workers, but in a field that is notoriously understaffed, nurses are spending more time at work than with spouses, kids and good friends. Experts at the Mayo Clinic believe that one way to battle high levels of stress is to spend time with family and good friends. Studies show that supportive relationships ward off loneliness and increase a sense of self worth.

Exercise Regularly:

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America physical fitness is crucial for battling stress and anxiety. Regular exercise reduces stress hormones and releases mood-improving chemicals in brain. In fact, people who don’t exercise are prone to higher levels of stress compared to those who engage in regular physical activity.

Get a Pet:

Nurses know more than most people that not caring for your own health can have potentially life threatening side effects down the road. It can increase the risk for depression and heart disease. One study found that a short visit with a dog reduced anxiety by nearly 25%, stress hormone levels dropped 17% and even improved overall health in cardiovascular patients. For those who work long hours and can’t care for a dog, studies found similar benefits for cat owners. A 2009 study by experts at the Stroke Research Center found that cat owners were less likely to die of a cardiovascular disease.

Reduce your Expenses:

Signing up for the job of a nurse may reduce wardrobe expenses overall, but certain scrubs can still be costly. Since they tend to wear out quickly and need to be laundered after every shift, buying cheap scrubs decreases financial anxieties while at the same time it can perk up a mood by giving RNs and LPNs an opportunity to purchase uniforms more to their taste.

Engage in Creative Activities:

Nurses may work with their hands, but the job is not usually, creative. Sometimes the brain needs to engage in activities that allow the mind to focus less on protocol. Engaging in hobbies like painting, writing, gardening or playing an instrument are great ways to free the mind from day-to-day professional concerns.

Improve Diet:

Poor diet choices can actually worsen fatigue, pack on unhealthy pounds, increase stress and take a toll on physical well-being. Since many nurses don’t always have time to cook up meals with health in mind, check out some easy ways to increase healthy eating.

  • Buy pre-packaged baby carrots and stash them in the refrigerator at work for snacking
  • Candy and baked goods may satisfy a sweet tooth, but they don’t satiate hunger and can be incredibly high in sugar. Snack on a handful of grapes or a banana.
  • Swap out high calorie colas for zero-calorie and sugar free alternatives.