When caring for the well being of others is your job, it can be easy to allow their needs to supersede your own. And now that we are in the throes of winter, sickness is abounding, the bitter cold makes exercising difficult and busy days and odd hours lead to exhaustion. The Healthcare profession is a very rewarding field, but it can take a toll. If you find yourself mentally and physically drained while you care for others, these tips will help keep you healthy not only during the winter season, but all year long.
Eat a heathy diet – There is little time for full balanced meals when you are running from one patient to another. But, there are small adjustments you can make to curb snacking and fast food meals. Plan meals rich in fruits and vegetables for the coming week, in small portions that are easy to consume on the run. Eat a breakfast high in protein to regulate blood sugar and stop cravings. Nuts will help to stimulate brainpower on long days and nights, and bananas can help to relieve stress. Make a conscious effort to drink water versus coffee and soda. Choose a water bottle that will allow you to easily track water intake.
Exercise – Stress may be a part of the job, but exercise is a healthy outlet to decrease that stress and anxiety. It also has the following physical effects.
- May help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways.
- Causes a change to antibodies and white blood cells, that may aid in the immune system’s early detection of illness.
- The rise in body temperature may prevent bacteria from growing.
Find a 24 hour gym close to work or home, that will accommodate your schedule. If possible, take outdoor walks on your breaks to absorb vitamin D.
Get adequate sleep – When you work odd hours and long shifts, it can be very difficult to get the rest you need. However, there are a wealth of studies that show just how critical sleep is to maintaining a healthy mental and physical state. If possible, head to bed at a consistent time each night. Turn off all screens at least one hour before bedtime and begin relaxing with music, a warm bath or by reading a book. Also, limit alcohol and caffeine consumption, which can disrupt sleep.
Make time for others – Carve out time to connect with others. Relationships feed the soul and provide necessary support. The constant, but brief, human interaction in your profession is not a replacement for real, deep relationships.
Take up a hobby – Once per week, take time out for a relaxing hobby, such as yoga, arts and crafts, journaling, gardening, knitting or other relaxing tasks. Allow your mind to disconnect from the pressures of the job.
Don’t neglect your self care. Maintaining your own health is paramount to being able to effectively care for others.