It’s sunny and 75! There is a light breeze gusting through the air. The sound of water fountains are overpowering the conversation across from me, and I am COMPLETEY okay with it! Ladies and gentleman, it’s Tuesday, and I am laying out at the pool in the MIDDLE of the day because TODAY IS MY OFF DAY! And what a GLORIOUS off day it has been for me! One of my favorite reasons why I LOVE being a nurse is the fact that I am off 4 days a week! As we say on the Woman’s Surgical Unit, it is THE BREAST!!! I enjoyed every single second of it, until I realized that I had to go back to work TOMORROW!
You guys know that feeling! When you have SO enjoyed your off days, but you know tomorrow is BACK TO WORK!!! (Instert GIANT CRY FEST!!) It’s not because we hate our jobs (hopefully), it’s just because we LOVE our days off a lot more! Work is work. I put all of my heart and effort into it when I’m there, but I LOVE my days off! One thing I struggled a lot with was mentally and physically preparing to get back to work! Some of you may not have issues getting back into the swing of things, but I was doing a lot that was hindering my readiness! Just listen up…
Warming Up Just like you would For a Baseball Game!
Just like every sport in life, you always “warm up” before the game. You stretch, you hydrate, you put on some warm up music, and you make sure you eat a healthy, but lite meal. That helps set you up for success in your game. Nursing is no different! We happen to be in a profession where we are on our feet (and A-Game) 12+ hours a day! We HAVE to be prepared and also doing our bodies “right” prior to our shift. Over the past couple years, I’ve discovered a few things that have helped me tremendously to feel ready and energized for my work week! I hope you can apply some of these to your life, too!
Getting a GOOD night’s sleep before a shift is imperative! We work in a profession where we are pretty much at work more than half the day! That leaves about 10-11 hours to drive home, wind down, eat, shower, and sleep! On a good day, I get 6.5 hours of sleep! The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours for adults ages 18-64! If I get to bed by 10:00pm, I’m gold. That doesn’t happen too often, but I have gotten myself in a routine! When I have a bad night and I get around 5 hours, I am MISERABLE the next day! Don’t do that to yourself! It will affect your performance and your thinking! GET YOUR SLEEP!
2. Eating Well
This is HUGE! Guys…I can’t even begin to explain how much food affects your everyday feelings and performance! I’m very much pro-“be happy in your own skin”, but when I am taking good care of my body, feeding it the food it NEEDS (not wants), and at a healthy weight for my height, I am SO much happier in general! Firstly, I am proud of myself because I know that part of my happiness comes from feeding my body the foods it needs to survive! It’s hard to say no to the fried food, junk food, sweet tea, and soda! Our bodies naturally crave the food that we keep feeding it! You have to stop somewhere!
Nursing isn’t the most convenient schedule when it comes to preparing food! I find myself stopping at Chick-fil-a on some of the days that I work because it’s easy and convenient. I understand the burden cooking and working can be, but fast food doesn’t have to mean french fries and chicken nuggets! Restaurants now offer healthier options like salads and deli sandwiches which are MUCH better decisions than what those places are known for! I try to eat as natural as possible and more natural foods that have as little ingredients as possible! You can start by making healthier decisions with fast food options! Also, salad dressings at restaurants can be FULL of nasty ingredients! I encourage you to bring your salads home and use balsamic or apple cider vinaigrette with olive oil! They are so tasty and WAY better for you! Your heart and body will love you. You will sleep better and feel better about yourself! Eating healthier isn’t hard, it just takes a little time to educate yourself and find the foods you like! The little decisions we make with food every day affect our health in a BIG way! You can check out my previous blog: Eating Healthy on a Nurses Budget: http://www.yourheartismine.net/?p=1202
I had a confused patient screaming out the other day for the whole floor to hear , “ WATER WATER WATTTTERRRRR.” My heart hurt so bad because we couldn’t give this patient anything by mouth! Bottom line is WE NEED WATER TO SURVIVE! If we didn’t have it, we’d be screaming too! Water not only helps fuel our bodies on a cellular level and helps with all of our organ’s functions, but it gives us ENERGY! NURSES NEED ALL OF THE ENERGY WE CAN GET! Staying hydrated BEFORE and during work is a HUGE deal! People in general don’t drink enough water on a daily basis! I have a Nalgene water bottle that I fill up and drink throughout my day. I strive to drink 2 full bottles! The recommended amount of water to drink for women is 2.2L per day (about 9 cups) and 3L for men (13 cups). I highly recommend going out and buying a water bottle and keeping it with you at home and at work! Keep those cells fueled! It’s helps with fatigue and keeps you from feeling so hungry when you are really just dehydrated!
4. Resting On Your Day Off!
A lot of times, we try to fit in our doctor appointments, cleaning, grocery shopping, laundry, and the list goes on. I get it, because on the days that we work, nurses are completely USELESS! I don’t care what anyone says, we’re useless! All of you power houses out there who go to the gym on the days that you work, you ROCK! I just can’t do it! Even after running 6 half marathon in my lifes, I just can’t do it! Be very careful to make sure you are not overdoing yourself on your days off. It is SO important to get some R&R! Whether it be laying out at the pool, reading a book, getting your nails done, going for a walk, GOING TO THE GYM (yes, that’s therapeutic for me!), listening to music, YOGA, or anything else that makes you feel relaxed, YOU NEED TO DO IT!
This job is physically and mentally demanding. We need to be able to let down on our days off! If your spouse is complaining that you didn’t do anything on that first day off, you take them right to this blog and tell them I DIDN’T DO ANYTHNIG EITHER!! My husband knows not to get on to me that first day! I have my day of rest, and then get on with life. You have to, to successfully survive this profession!
For those of you like myself who were athletes and runners growing up, you never missed your work out days, right? You made it to the gym in the morning before class. You got your night run in with running group. You ran races on the weekends. Your quads were rockin and your arms were toned! It was just glorious! AND THEN you became a nurse. Night shift completely threw me for a loop! The only exercise I was getting was taking the stairs down to the cafeteria to wait in line for the midnight breakfast special! HAH! Night shift killed me!
Exercising and working 12 hours shifts is a h’ard schedule to balance! You definitely get your steps in at work, but it’s not the complete aerobic exercise that your body needs! Most people hear that 30 minutes a day is all you need. I say, if you’re already out just, make it an hour! I don’t run and exercise as frequently as I used to (and I wish I still did) but being a former athlete, I definitely “feel it” when my body is like ‘girllllll you need to go run!” EVERY time that I go out and exercise, I am so thankful that I did! My mind feels clearer, my body feels stronger, and I feel empowered! I feel like I can conquer the rest of my day and that I’m ready for my week!
Most hospitals offer gym membership discounts, so look into that! When I had a gym membership, I’d go to all of the fun classes! I am more of an outdoor runner, and I used the gym at my complex now! Take advantage and take care of yourself! In my opinion, you almost have to be in some sort of decent shape to survive nursing! It’s a hard job! I’m no size 4 with a model physique, but I make sure I am taking action to take care of my heart! I’m not worried about the lbs on my scale. I focus on eating well and staying active. The other stuff will fall into place. Exercising has amazing benefits and I encourage you guys to get motivated this week!
LAST but not LEAST!
6.Practicing Thankfulness and a GOOD Attitude:
We can totally go into a week of work with a, “ I DON’T WANT TO BE HERE” attitude! Well guess what….NO ONE wants to work with the person with the “ I DON’T WANT TO BE HERE” attitude! Before you head into work with this mindset, I want you to check it before you wreck it! We’re ALL here for the same reason. We want to take care of people! We want to love on them and make a difference! There are a lot of big pills to swallow with healthcare that come along with our jobs! I understand that! But you have SO much to be thankful for! You have a good job with good job security! You have the opportunity to take care of people in a way that most don’t! You get to work alongside some beautiful souls who are serving in the same mission!
You get to witness lives changed! You get to laugh with that cute, little, old, funny lady with Pneumonia who just wants to leave and get her nails done, despite the fact that she can’t breathe! You get to watch that man who just lost his leg , walk back in a week later with his prosthesis with a smile on his face, to thank you for his care! You get to watch the young man who came in with complete right side paralysis in the ER get TPA pushed, and within 20 minutes he had complete feeling back. THIS is why I do what I do! I am thankful for the moments like these that remind me of why I became a nurse!
Every Day is a New Day!
Every day is going to bring something different! We may go through phases where we are just worn out and tired, but I want you to make sure you are preparing yourself physically and mentally EVERY DAY! Taking care of yourself is SO big! We need to make sure we are doing our part to help ourselves in the best way possible! I hope this helps to encourage you guys, and contribute to a successful week of work ahead! We’re all in this together! Let’s make the best of it!
Your Heart Is Mine,