“Did you hear about the woman found wandering alongside the road? They don’t know her name but they know she is a nurse because the back was broken, the ankles were swollen, the nerves were frayed, and the bladder was full” Author unknown
Self-care is essential
Terrible joke, right? Unfortunately some of it may be true. A recent longitudinal study by Jacobsen and colleagues found that night work and job stress were associated with sleep deficiency, lack of exercise, and increased cardiometabolic risk. Results from another study revealed that hospital-employed bedside nurses have a depression rate of 17% compared to the national rate of 9%. Anecdotally I have heard that fellow nurses often have high blood pressure, muscular/skeletal issues, and unhealthy eating habits. Nurses, the most caring professionals, often fail to care for their own health and wellness.
Many times in my nursing career I have been the poster child for this problem. I’m sure many of you could say the same. As I have matured (another way to say getting old) and become more aware of the process of aging I have gained so many insights. Yes, some from the literature but most from my son, Kyle.
Making a meaningful change
A few years back Kyle and I started participating in the Turkey Trot, an annual 5K on Thanksgiving morning. What better way to start the day off before eating 2000+ calories of turkey, dressing, yams, and pies! But seriously, I began to love walking. After that, I starting running and ran a Thanksgiving 5K in Charlotte! Now Kyle ran backwards must of the time encouraging me, but I did it!
As a result, I still continue to get wellness advice from Kyle running the gamut of food as fuel, stretching to reduce injuries, and continuing to provide encouragement. Most importantly, I have created daily meaningful habits because of these changes.
Below you will find some wellness examples to explore. Wellness is defined as the quality or state of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal. Choose one, set a goal and start today! You owe it to yourself.
- Get moving: Even 5-10 minutes of exercise can boost your energy level.
- Plan and prepare healthy meals for the week: Having meals ready and packed saves time and facilitates better choices such as important protein sources coupled with a variety of fruits and vegies.
- Drink caffeine in moderation: I’m still working on this one L
- Pause and breathe: Take a few minutes (2-3 minute break) and practice slow, mindful breathing… breathe in and slowly breathe out a few times. This practice gets oxygen to the brain and allows a moment to refocus, quieten your thoughts and recharge your mind
- Participate in on-site wellness programs: Some programs offer Tai-Chi and fitness programs, ergonomic training programs, massage, cognitive based therapy, and grief debriefing
- Practice, practice, practice: Wellness doesn’t happen overnight, however, with practice these measures become habits and habits become a way of life.
Walking remains my favorite exercise, even adding mindful walking to my routine. Focusing my mind on the present moment and on occasion, remembering my mantra…
“Mind clear, Spirit grateful, Body energized”– Pam Spivey
I encourage you all to refocus for a moment and prioritize caring for yourself.