Being healthy will always be a key ingredient of living a happy and successful life, especially for nurses. Yes, everyone wants to steer clear from diseases. But there’s more to being healthy than just the deficiency of pain or illness. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. That covers more than just the physical aspect! Let’s chop up the components of health and wrap them up to get the full picture of what it means to be healthy.
Astounding reports of obesity, overweight and out-of-shape problems are on the rise. As advocates of health, nurses need to be the role models to give emphasis on the importance of fitness and well-being. Matter of fact, focusing on exercise and diet help people with illness. But people shouldn’t wait to develop an illness to start a regular fitness routine. Nurses should be role models of health, hence, healthy practices should infiltrate both personal and professional lives. Listed below are few tips to achieve optimum health:
Start an aerobic conditioning exercise program. In aerobic exercise your heart rate increases to a certain level and one needs to sustain it on that rate for at least 20 minutes. Combined with healthy diet, aerobic exercise not only sheds those extra pounds off, it also strengthens your heart, lowers bad cholesterol and controls blood sugar levels for people with diabetes. If you want to do this at the comfort of your home, you can simply buy a DVD or watch a video on YouTube and you’re off to a healthier physique. Be reminded though on the importance of doing this on a regular basis (about 3-5 times weekly) to achieve good results for your health.
Make healthy food choices. Eating healthy doesn’t mean staying unrealistically thin, depriving yourself of good tasting foods nor about having strict dietary limitations. The main goal of eating healthy is to feel great, get energized and radiate a positive mood. Start on planning a healthy diet slowly rather than one abrupt, drastic change. Realistically think on what you can commit as a start and work from there. Your main goal is to develop a diet plan you can maintain for life, not just in a week or month or when you hit your target weight. The foundation of a healthy diet is incorporating fruits and vegetables in your meals. These foods have relatively low calories but are packed with nutrients (vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants). Branch out beyond your regular food choices and try broccoli, Chinese cabbage, carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, onion and fruits. Eat a variety of these foods. As they said, eat a rainbow each meal, colorful fruits and vegetables not only look palatable but contain great amounts of vitamins too!
Proper Rest and Relaxation (Physical and Mental). Muscles become sore when used too much and the brain needs some time to cool down too. Taking enough rest between activities allows the body to regain function and performance. Mental rest and relaxation is important too!
Get enough sleep. Overall, good physical and mental well-being require a good amount of sleep per day. To obtain maximum benefits, eight hours of sleep is recommended. Having enough sleep is one of nurse’s major issue. The timing of work shifts may strain a nurse’s ability to get enough sleep. Long working hours and shift work can cause sleep disturbances and risks in a nurse’s health and safety such as poor mental function and physical ability, decreased immunologic function and increased rates of depression, heart problems, disturbances in the mood, GI disorders and injury. Studies suggest lack of sleep can prevent people from losing weight too. Nurses can follow these strategies to prevent fatigue-related risks in the workplace:
- Plan your rest days. Plan a one to two full days off after 5 days of consecutive 8-hour work. If you are working on a 10-hr shift take a day off after working 4 straight days. A two day rest is necessary for 3 days of 12-hr work.
- Rest between shifts. There should be at least 10 hours in between the end of your shift to the next one. This will give nurses 7 to 8 hours of full sleep before working the next day.
- Breaks during shifts. Taking frequent short breaks during demanding work is effective against fatigue. Give yourself a 5-minute break when you finished working your priority tasks before heading out to the next one. Of course, you don’t want to overdo this otherwise you might risk the quality of your work and the lives of those you are attending.
Socialize with others. Some people ignore the importance of socialization in being healthy. Studies show those who have strong social networks seem to have higher quality of life and are healthier than those with little or no social support. Social engagement helps protect against cognitive decline and seems to be an active coping strategy for most people.
A healthy person radiates positive vibes contaminating those around him/her. Nurses are advocates of health and are looked up in the ‘health’ aspect. So, I have an important question for you today, are you a healthy nurse?