Being a nurse is a demanding job – you're always on your feet, under a lot of stress and awake for long periods of time. Add it all up and it's easy to see why many nursing professionals experience fatigue and burnout. According to OSHA, 48 percent of hospital worker injuries are caused by overexertion, which means this is no small issue. Sometimes it's hard to remember to take care of yourself when your profession revolves around caring for other people. At the end of your shift you might just want to collapse into bed or devour a quick fast-food meal – but it's necessary to make healthy choices lest you experience extreme bouts of fatigue or other more serious problems.
Here are three things you can do to take better care of yourself:
1. Eat well and exercise
After a long shift, exercise is probably the last thing you want to do. But fitting a quick 30 minutes of exercise into your day can give you more energy and help you feel better. It may even assist your immune system. Nurse Zone recommended that nurses avoid skipping meals. Instead, pack a balanced, healthy snack to keep your energy levels even throughout the day. And when you stop for a meal, look for healthy options and avoid the vending machines. Head to the salad bar a few times a week. You'll feel full, but not weighed down or sleepy.
2. Wear safety shoes
After exhaustion-related injuries, slip-and-fall accidents are the most prevalent type of injury among health care workers, reported OSHA. And many accidents occur while a nurse is attempting to help a patient. For example, a heavier patient might accidentally slip and drag a smaller nurse down with him. These and other risks can be mitigated by wearing slip-resistant shoes. You can't always be prepared for everything – but wearing the proper footwear can help to eliminate some of the risk.
3. Recognize your emotions
A study published in the Online Journal of Issues in Nursing reported that younger nurses tend to experience more frequent feelings of agitation and are less likely to attempt to manage these feelings than older nurses. That means it is very important to take a step back and recognize when you feel upset or exhausted, then find a method that helps you deal with it. Your particular way of dealing with these emotions might differ from your peers, so you may have to experiment until you find what's right for you.