Staying Fresh, Fit, and Fierce in the Nursing Profession
An honorable profession. Nursing. From the LVN to the RN and BSN, all the way to nurse practitioner, the men and women who serve patients in a hospital setting represent those with the most contact with them. Because of this, they have the best opportunity to positively impact the lives of the frightened, ill, hurting, and dying in the health care environment.
Those who naturally give of themselves, rarely give to themselves. But to stay on your game in the nursing profession, you've got to get a little ‘me time’. You can't truly, competently serve others if you feel worn out, tepid, and soft. Help yourself to elevate your ability to help others. This goal of creating a regular routine of 'me time' may prove especially challenging if you work as a shift nurse.
But you, your patients, and your family, deserve the best. Be that – for you and for those you love.
Get Your Fresh On
What does fresh mean in relation to nursing? Fresh means keeping a curious, agile mind – one that's ready to consume and learn new information – all the time. Check out these tips about getting your fresh on and staying at the top of your mental game:
• Get the daily Sudoku or crossword puzzle out of the newspaper. Brainteasers like these really do keep your brain fit and fresh.
• Start a blog. Use one of the free platforms, such as Wordpress or Blogger. You can research for your next post, answer comments, and visit other blog sites during breaks and downtime (you know, like at 3:00 am at a hospital in some suburb or 10:00 am in the less desirable parts of town)
• Stay up to date on current events – worldwide. It's important to know about milestones and happenings in the outside world. You can discuss these with co-workers, doctors, or even your shift supervisor on your break or other appropriate times. It never hurts to schmooze with the big dogs once in a while (raises, promotions, recognition)
• Check out medical and nursing journals in those boring, sluggish downtimes. As long as you stay alert and at the ready when duty calls, others can't say much about your boning up on the latest health care news and information.
Get Fit and Fabulous
The long shifts, the same-ol'-same-ol', and the intermittent periods of high tension – all of these things wear away at your resolve to follow a regular exercise routine. By the time your shift ends, you're bone tired. Who wants to go to the gym and work out for an hour or more? Think about this quote by the famous anonymous, “No matter how slow you go, you're still lapping everybody on the couch.” In other words, any physical activity you do is better than sitting around wishing you had the energy to move.
• Put some pep in your step when you need to take a long trek around the hospital. Turn those boring, arduous hikes into vigorous, calorie burning activities.
• Many larger hospital and health care facilities now have wellness centers with exercise equipment and Pilates or other classes. Take full advantage of these, sneaking in a butt burner or two during breaks, at lunch, or directly before and after your shift.
• Invest in a relaxing yoga DVD to use after work. Not only does yoga relax and center the body and mind, it's a great way to get in shape if you've been out of the fitness game for a while.
• Check out Crossfit – the new fast and furious fitness craze. After just a couple of training sessions, or following a DVD, you'll have the know-how to Crossfit all on your own at home or the park. It's inexpensive, effective, and you can do a whole workout in 30 minutes or less.
• Please people, eat breakfast – a real breakfast – not a doughnut or a cheese Danish. You had the class. You know what's right. Do it.
Get Fierce About Your Work
You chose to become a nurse for a reason. Get involved. Stay involved. Evolve. Learn new ways to think about what you do and share this with other fresh, fit, and fierce nurses.
• Get involved in forming health care policy at a local, state, and national level. Many opportunities exist for think tanks and focus groups that take part in creating relevant and meaningful health care policy.
• When things seem really bad, remember what you signed up for – to make a difference. Don't lose sight of the fact that you are making a real difference in the lives of those who can't help themselves.
• Check out and get to know nurses and doctors from other departments. You may see an opportunity for a shift switch or for a lateral career move to shake things up a bit.
• Befriend and talk to EMS staff. Listen to their war stories about the outside. Not only will this help them get a load off, you'll get a glimpse into another facet of medicine and health care.
• Do your very best while you're on your shift. Deep dive into your work – give it all you've got. Don't count down minutes to your next break or days until the next vacation. This will eat away at your ability to enjoy what you came there for and make a true difference.
Get out there. Stay fresh, fit, and fierce in the nursing profession to do the same outside of it. Give to others like there's no tomorrow – but don't forget to build the foundation and care for the vessel that houses your best nursing game.
About the author:
Samantha Gluck works as a freelance health care journalist, copywriter, and brand-positioning strategist. Numerous well-known newspapers and magazines across the US and UK, including the Houston Chronicle, Hartford Courant, and Balanced Living Magazine -- as well as various regional publications -- have published her work. Learn more about her and her work by visiting her sites: Medtopicwriter and Freelance Writing Dreams.
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