Taking Care of Yourself

Taking Care of Yourself

You tell your patients to take care of themselves through exercise and healthy eating. Now it’s time to take your own advice. Read on to learn more about how you can incorporate a healthy lifestyle into your day.

  • Long-term night shift work increases the risks of common cancers in women

    The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) conducted a meta-analysis to identify whether long-term night shift work increased the risks of common cancers in women. See the results of the study here. [Read more…]

  • Nursing Apps—For Work and Home

    The season of gift-giving is upon us, and don’t you think you should start with a few gifts for yourself? The folks at MAS Medical Staffing have put together a list of 11 smart phone and tablet apps designed to make your life as a nurse just a little bit easier—both at work and at home. For your professional life,… [Read more…]

  • Tips for long-term exercise success

    Walking, swimming, cycling, jogging, skiing, aerobic dancing, or any of dozens of other activities can help your heart. They all cause you to feel warm, perspire and breathe heavily without being out of breath and without feeling any burning sensation in your muscles. Whether it is a structured exercise program or just part of your daily routine, all exercise adds… [Read more…]

  • mindful breathing exercises

    Mindful Breathing

    Tip 1 of 6 Mindfulness Exercises You Can Try Today This exercise can be done standing up or sitting down, and pretty much anywhere at any time. If you can sit down in the meditation (lotus) position, that's great, if not, no worries. Either way, all you have to do is be still and focus on your breath for just one minute. [Read more…]

  • Maintain weight loss successfully – based on a 20 year national study

    Body weight is a key factor to protect us from chronic disease. Although obese people can lose weight through healthy diet, exercise programs, medicine, and surgery, more than 75% of them regain weight after losing it. To learn more about maintaining weight loss, researchers founded the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) as a long-term study project in 1994. Currently, 10,000+ people have joined in the project. [Read more…]

  • Maintain Weight Loss

    How to maintain weight loss successfully

    Suggestions based on a 20-year national study. Body weight is a key factor to protect us from chronic disease. Although obese people can lose weight through healthy diet, exercise programs, medicine, and surgery, more than 75% of them regain weight after losing it. To learn more about maintaining weight loss, researchers founded the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) as a long-term study project in 1994. Currently, 10,000+ people have joined in the project. Researchers gathered self-report data from those who are successfully maintain weight loss. The finding is published in The journal for Nurse Practitioners. [Read more…]

  • Give yourself the gift of self-affirmation

    We’ve all had days that push us toward the edge. The chaos likely starts around mid-shift and may go something like this: Radiology calls for bed 3, bed 6 is late for discharge, the emergency department is waiting to send two new admits, and Mr. Gilbert’s wife is signaling for you again down the hallway.  Your lunch break is sidetracked by a miscommunication with your colleague, and to top it all off, you just realized [Read more…]

  • Nurses with disabilities: Know their rights

    Registered nurses (RNs) with physical disabilities experience discrimination in the workplace. Researchers have found that nurses with disabilities often leave the nursing profession because they feel discriminated against or they fear they will jeopardize patient safety. However, there are no documented incidents of patient injury related specifically to a nurse’s disability. [Read more…]

  • What the mirror doesn’t tell you

    “I hate my body.”

    “I’m such a fat, worthless cow.”

    “Where did all these gray hairs and wrinkles come from?”

    “I have total thunder thighs.”

    “How could anyone find me attractive when I look like this?”

    “My body is such a burden.”

    [Read more…]

  • Look for inspiration in your fellow nurses

    In a perfect world, we nurses would be inspired daily by our patient experiences. They would come in such abundance that overtime, computer crashes, and 10-minute meal breaks would be minor nuisances brushed off like a piece of lint on our scrubs. The reality is this: Some days are hard. Some are plain repetitive. (I can say that because I’ve worked on an endoscopy unit. I remember a Monday we did 14 colonoscopies, nothing else.) [Read more…]

  • compassion fatigue

    Compassion fatigue: Are you at risk?

    For many of us, nursing isn’t just what we do; it’s who we are. Most of us became nurses because we care about people and want to make a difference in their lives. Over time, nurses develop a nursing intuition and a working knowledge of disease and trauma. Our intuition, knowledge, and caring don’t automatically shut off when we leave work. [Read more…]

  • caring fatigue

    Combating change fatigue in today’s healthcare environment

    Those who work in the healthcare industry are well aware of its constantly changing landscape. Healthcare institutions are challenged to balance the provision of safe care with the allocation of essential resources. Changes in healthcare are aimed at increasing the efficiency and safety of care through best practices. Nurses, as the primary caregivers, are charged with implementing [Read more…]

  • Balancing

    Balancing the wheels of life

    Have you ever ridden a bicycle with a wobbly wheel? The ride isn’t smooth, and you notice every bump in the road. As you focus on your discomfort, you may be distracted from the beautiful vistas you’re riding past. Think of the bicycle as your overall health, which carries you through life. For most of us, [Read more…]

  • Mindfulness

    The mindful nurse

    Mindfulness is an increasingly common topic in both popular and professional literature. In clinical populations, evidence suggests mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) can reduce symptoms linked to various conditions, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and depression. Among healthcare professionals, mindfulness training can reduce psychological [Read more…]

  • parent

    From our readers: When your parent is the patient

    It’s not easy when your parent is the patient. In my 10 years of being a registered nurse, I have learned a lot, seen a lot, and considered myself desensitized to the information and knowledge that comes with being a nurse. I have been a good advocate for my patients and always listened to their concerns. With all this in mind, how could it be so hard to be a daughter [Read more…]

  • How to get off the anger-go-round

    One of the most complex emotions, anger is a normal response to certain situational triggers. It’s associated with physiologic changes, including increases in heart rate, blood pressure, and adrenaline level. How we express anger—and how frequently and intensely it erupts—can be either beneficial or [Read more…]

  • Two years after the Sandy Hook tragedy, PTSD remains

    From our readers: Two years after the Sandy Hook tragedy, PTSD remains

    As my family got through the second anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, I have felt the need to share what is happening in the community with my nurse colleagues to show the long-term effects of the trauma. Nurses might ask; where are we now? What was missing when the recovery efforts were established? Did we get what we needed from all the aid that came upon our town? [Read more…]

  • Resting not regretting

    “We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.” — William Shakespeare As informal mentors, coaches, and preceptors to many new nursing graduates, we experienced [Read more…]

  • Exercise your right to be fit!

    Nearly all of us—especially nurses—know exercise is good for our physical and mental health. But incorporating it into our busy lives can be a challenge. The only types of exercise some nurses have time for are working long shifts, juggling life’s demands, balancing the books, jumping on the bandwagon, [Read more…]

  • Why quitting is hard

    Kate Sheldon is the director of acute care services in a medical center that’s part of a larger system. She recently completed her doctorate and is ready to move into a chief nursing officer (CNO) role. Widely respected by her colleagues, she has received encouragement to pursue this goal. Recently, two CNO [Read more…]

  • Staying healthy: Advice for telehealth nurses

    Telehealth, telemedicine, and home-based telehealth work have grown dramatically in recent years. These programs enable nurses to provide patient care remotely from a medical office or their own home. Research shows telehealth programs [Read more…]

  • Bonding over body image

    For many college students, the ever-present pressure to be thin has trumped the goal of being healthy. Females face body-image issues throughout their life­span. Our society glorifies thinness. Starting as early as mid-to-late childhood, girls are vulnerable to the psychological effects of pervasive images of thin females [Read more…]

  • Helping Sandwich Generation nurses find a work-life balance

    If you have at least one parent age 65 or older and are raising children or financially supporting a child age 18 or older, you’re part of the Sandwich Generation. Coined in 1981 by social worker Dorothy Miller, the term originally referred to women, generally in their 30s and 40s, who were “sandwiched” between young kids, spouses, employers, and aging parents. [Read more…]

  • journaling your health nurses

    Writing for good health

    If you asked nurses how they reduce job stress, you probably wouldn’t expect them to reply, “By writing.” In fact, a recent research study of nurses’ preferences for stress-relieving activities didn’t include writing as an option. Few people would choose writing to relax. At the beginning of a writing workshop with nurses, I often ask, “Who hates writing?” My hand is the first to go up, followed by that of nearly everyone in the room—and for good reason. Writing reports, patient assessment findings, and other types of clinical documentation can be the most tedious aspect of healthcare work. [Read more…]

  • Mantram repetition: A portable, mindful, contemplative practice for the workplace

    Have you ever been at work and wanted to be on vacation, instead? Have you ever wished that you could “beam me up, Scotty” and be transported instantly to another place and time? Have you longed for some instant rest and relaxation? [Read more…]

  • From our readers: Harp song — A journey to remember and embrace the heart of nursing

    From our readers: Harp song — A journey to remember and embrace the heart of nursing

    “The aim of all spiritual paths, no matter their origin or the rigors of their practice, is to help us live more fully in the lives we are given. In this way, whatever comes from a moment’s grace that joins us to our lives and to each other – this is spiritual.” — Parker J. Palmer We never know when the lens through which we see our roles as nurses will widen to reveal a new spark of possibility for caring and an opportunity to deepen our spiritual awareness through this most remarkable profession. Even when we decide to leave the clinical setting or retire, we still remain “nurses” because in large measure, this is the essence of who we are called to be in this world. [Read more…]

  • Living a healthy lifestyle

    As nurses, we know how to check blood pressure, administer medications, and counsel patients about healthy living. But let’s face it—some of us don’t practice what we preach. At the end of a long shift taking care of others, we sometimes fail to take the best care of ourselves. It doesn’t have to be that way. Take it from me—a busy practicing nurse, chief executive [Read more…]

  • Nutrition for night-shift nurses

    Pam has worked the night shift for more than 30 years. Over the last 3 years, she has lost 100 lb—and kept it off. She describes the challenging food environment she faces on the night shift: “The cafeteria is closed, so vending machines are the only food source. But they offer only calorie-dense foods, [Read more…]

  • From our readers: One nurse’s journey into patienthood

    As I lay on the table staring up at the ceiling tiles and waited for my biopsy to begin, I suddenly became keenly aware of the fact that I was now entering a very strange place. I was now a patient. I could no longer offer hope and comfort. Instead, I was hanging on every word spoken, seeking the meaning behind the eyes of every person who spoke with me about my disease, and realizing that my life would forever be different. [Read more…]

  • Recovery lessons from the Sandy Hook trauma

    Children are people with small hearts and big emotions that often come from the people around them, particularly family members. As a pediatric nurse and mother of two girls ages 6 and 4 in the Sandy Hook, Connecticut community, I am seeing firsthand the effects of psychological trauma among children and families in the aftermath of the school shooting that took place on December 14, 2012. [Read more…]

  • Achieving a work-life balance

    Almost everyone agrees that achieving a work-life balance is a good thing. Without it, we risk long-term negative effects on our physical and mental health, our relationships, and our work performance. But many nurses have a hard time achieving this balance due to job demands, erratic work schedules, or inability to say no when someone asks for help. [Read more…]

  • Providing workplace renewal opportunities for nurses

    Stress among nurses is caused not only by the demands of clinical care, but also the continual outlay of compassion required to meet the emotional needs of patients and families. In a fast-paced clinical setting, however, nurses are not typically afforded the necessary respite for reflection and renewal. [Read more…]

  • Examing nurse comfort eating

    Eating better to help manage chronic stress

    Like many nurses, you may experience stress frequently, both on and off the job. Chronic stress can alter your equilibrium (homeostasis), activating physiologic reactive pathways that cause your body to shift its priorities. Physiologic effects of stress may include: [Read more…]

  • Tired of caring? You may have compassion fatigue

    Do you have trouble remembering what drew you to nursing? Do you take alternative paths through the unit to avoid running into a patient’s family members? Do your colleagues get on your last nerve? Are you ashamed of how you’ve started to feel about your patients, coworkers, family—and the world? [Read more…]

  • An algorithm to help you manage your stress

    Nurses face tremendous stress in their daily practice. Various environmental and personal factors can exacerbate or mitigate stress. High stress levels impair cognitive and psychomotor functioning, leading to potential errors in patient care. Experts have identified common physiologic and psychosocial responses [Read more…]

  • How to love and care for yourself unconditionally

    Are you able to relax, have fun, and enjoy the simple pleasures of life? Or do you:

    • have trouble falling or staying asleep?
    • smoke, drink, or eat to reduce tension?
    • have headaches, back pain, or stomach problems?
    • get irritated or upset over insignificant things?
    • have too much to do and too little time to do it?
    [Read more…]

  • The art of self-disclosure

    From our readers: The art of self-disclosure

    One aspect of the "art" of nursing is appropriate self-disclosure. Nurses and other healthcare providers often have an opportunity to share information about their own health to help a patient or family, or even a peer. For example, a nurse who takes niacin to lower cholesterol and raise high density lipoproteins (HDLs) may have found that taking the niacin [Read more…]

  • Unpacking the pounds that weigh you down

    How long have you dreamed of losing weight and keeping it off—of what it would feel like to be healthier and have more energy for your nursing job and your personal life? University of Maryland nursing researchers found 55% of nurses surveyed were overweight or obese. For many nurses, weight loss [Read more…]

  • Simple steps to improve your retirement readiness

    PERHAPS, like many nurses, you’ve become quite business savvy over the past few years. Increasing numbers of nurses are responsible for creating unit budgets, forecasting expenses, and calculating cost effectiveness. Yet when asked about their personal finances and retirement planning, [Read more…]

  • nurture spirit nurse

    From our readers…How focusing on spiritual needs benefits the nurse

    There is no question that in the complex and fast-paced world of healthcare, high levels of stress and tension are just part of the territory. Medical and technological advances over the last few decades have been beneficial, but have also taken our focus away from “being” with our patients to “doing” for our patients to a large extent. A nurse’s day revolves around many tasks to accomplish and attention [Read more…]

  • Who are you?

    You probably have many labels—nurse, wife, mother, sister, aunt (or husband, son, father, brother, uncle), neighbor, or volunteer, for instance. But who are you—really? When the day is done and it’s just you in the mirror, who’s the person behind the labels? [Read more…]

  • Talking to patients about a “weighty” issue: Are you ready?

    From our readers…Talking to patients about a “weighty” issue: Are you ready?

    As the prevalence of obesity in the United States continues to rise, no doubt more of your patients are having weight issues that complicate their medical conditions and are receiving “lose weight" prescriptions from their healthcare providers. Although you may have no trouble explaining to the patient [Read more…]

  • Use it or lose it: Physical fitness for nurses

    Chronic lifestyle-related diseases account for most deaths today, with cardiovascular disease the leading cause of all deaths. As you know, a sedentary life­style contributes to development of cardiovascular disease. More than a decade ago, experts concluded that medical science has done all [Read more…]

  • relief emotional freedom technique tap

    Tap your way to fast relief

    Can symptomatic relief from fear, stress, anxiety, and a laundry list of other ailments really be at your fingertips? The many people who use Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) think so. [Read more…]

  • self nurture shake off breathe exercise

    From our readers…The secrets of self-nurturing

    The foremost Secret to nurturing yourself is to practice caring for yourself. This article focuses on self-nurturing techniques for the body and mind. The more you practice these secrets the more you’ll be able to elicit calm and relaxation in your body. Here are some tried and true “secrets” for physical self-nurturing. [Read more…]

  • labyrinth self healing walk exercise

    Walking the labyrinth: An exercise in self-healing

    Does your job have you running around in circles? Are you super-stressed out, but too jittery to ease your tension with a sitting meditation? Then maybe it's time you tried a labyrinth. No I'm not suggesting you imitate a rat in a maze. A labyrinth, unlike a maze, has no dead ends, blind passages, or wrong turns to frustrate you. Being in one is usually soothing, like a walking meditation. [Read more…]

  • Examing nurse comfort eating

    Examining nurse comfort eating

    Many years ago I found myself standing in the frozen food section flirting with the prospect of buying a mouth-watering strawberry cheesecake. I rationalized buying it by convincing myself I would eat only one small piece. So there I was later, being a couch potato and watching T.V. when I gave in to my craving and made a beeline to my dear friend the refrigerator. I plopped the frozen cheesecake on my lap in front of the TV and, without giving the dessert a chance to thaw out, [Read more…]

  • overcome grief man alone grow

    From our readers…One nurse’s journey through grief: Loss of a Fort Hood family member

    Special reports were on practically every news station during the afternoon of November 5th 2009; a shooting had taken place at the Fort Hood Army Base in Killeen Texas. With the television remote in one hand and a cell phone in the other, while watching the news and calling family, a weak feeling came over me because Specialist Frederick Greene, my nephew, was stationed at Fort Hood. The feeling escalated as reports indicated that the shooting had taken place at the readiness center. Specialist Greene had mentioned during his last call home that he had to go to the readiness center to complete his deployment paperwork and receive last minute vaccinations on this specific day. [Read more…]

  • caregiver holding hands care family

    Caregiving for a family member can be difficult

    Nursing is my passion. I began to work as a professional caregiver 35 years ago. If I had to make a career choice today, I would still choose to become a nurse. Yet nursing school could not have prepared me for the challenge of caring for a family member. Being a professional caregiver differs from being a “lay” caregiver for a family member. As a nurse, you know not to become too involved with your patient—not to cross that invisible line. [Read more…]

  • fitness exercise routine health

    Make fitness fit into your daily routine

    You know exercise should be part of your daily routine. But who has the time or the energy? After all, you can hardly find time for the demands of your job and your family. Still, you know that finding time for everything except regular exercise is unhealthy. To look, feel, and be fit, you need exercise. And as a nurse who does so much for so many others, you deserve the benefits of good health. [Read more…]

  • wisdom renewal sign fear

    The wisdom of renewal

    We all know people who have become discontent with their careers. And we know people who remain energized, excited, and fully engaged in their profession. So what makes the difference? How can we all cultivate the self-care and consciousness to stay energized, centered, and engaged in nursing? [Read more…]

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