As agency you are always caring for others but taking care of yourself is just as important, if not more important. If you don’t take care of yourself, you will not be able to care for those who rely on you. Being on the road as an agency nurse can make it harder to care for yourself. Not being familiar with the area may be a concern but it doesn’t have to be. To help you while you are on the road the Endorse team has put together a list of 5 self-care tips for agency nurses.
Self-care for agency nurses should start with focusing on sleep. Getting plenty of rest as a nurse is sometimes difficult. And working twelve-hour shifts can make having a typical sleep pattern difficult. Nurses average about 6.8 hours of sleep a night, while it is recommended, they get 8 hours of sleep. It may seem that 1.2 hours of sleep isn’t that much, looking at the big picture that is a loss of 438 hours of sleep a year that you are losing out on. Sleep loss directly effects your health as well. We realise that getting enough sleep is easier said than done, here are a few tips to help you fall asleep at night. Make sure the room is dark- room darkening curtains work great to keep out unwanted light, whether it is during the day for night shift nurses or artificial light at night. Stay off your cell phone and/or computer, not only does this stimulate your mind but the blue light from them isn’t good for your eyes. Read a book. Reading helps to reduce stress which helps you fall asleep quicker. If you have tried all of these and still find yourself having trouble falling asleep or getting good sleep you can try over the counter supplements such as; chamomile tea or melatonin. Your body needs rest to keep it healthy and functioning at its best. Lack of rest is also dangerous when driving to and from work. If you haven’t had enough rest, you could risk dozing off while driving.
Nurses have intense experiences that most other health care workers don’t. As a result, they tend to have a great deal of stress. Having friendships with other nurses tends to alleviate it and help in more ways than you might imagine. Part of a healthy life is to ensure you take time-out with friends and family. Friends and family want to know how you are and that you’re taking good care of yourself. Talk openly about your experiences, the good experiences and not so good, they are a great resource to off-load to and can surprisingly give useful suggestions and can be great motivators. Whilst at times you may feel you don’t have the energy go out with friends, do it however have a say about the activity, it may not be wise to have a hard night drinking when it often takes several days to recover at alternative nights out like the quiet space of a cinema, dinner, even a nature walk or round of mini-golf. Being with someone during comfortable silences still has a positive impact on your well-being. Many nurses’ friends also happens to be nurses, this is a great benefit to share experiences and learn about new opportunities. Only nurses understand what other nurses truly go through, which helps both health care students and professionals live balanced, successful lives through sharing career and studying tips. Having friendships with other nurses can make a huge difference in and outside of the workplace—and how not having them can hurt. Research has shown that friendships between nurses can reduce stressful situations. A 2016 study found that the “degree of cohesion among friends had a positive impact on the level of job stress experienced by nurses.” The study concluded overall that the “strength and density of such friendship networks were related to job stress. Life information support from their friendship network was the primary positive contributor to control of job stress.”
Exercising is a great method of self-care. There are numerous benefits you can receive from it. There are some obvious benefits, including helping control your weight and it helps combating health diseases and health conditions. But, did you know that it can help your mood, boosts your energy and it can help you get a more restful sleep at night. You don’t have to get a gym membership to exercise. YouTube is great for workouts if that is what you are looking for. Going for a jog, run or walk are also great options as well, these can be done anywhere! There are also some great apps, like the ‘7 Minute Workout’ its free, you can do it in your bedroom.
Taking time out of your day for you time is important. It helps to refresh and refuel your mind and body. By taking time out of your day for you, you’ll lower your stress, become more productive, and have more energy. What better way than with hobbies. They don’t have to be time consuming or expensive; reading a book, crafting, painting, dancing or even writing. If the outdoors is more your thing you could go for walks, hikes or just go outside and enjoy the weather. You can always get me time by going out and getting a massage, manicure/pedicure or facial as well. It is important during this time, you mentally remove yourself from work related stresses, this may include turning off your phone.
As a nurse it is sometimes difficult to maintain a healthy diet. You don’t always get to take your lunch
breaks and are forced to dine on vending machine options. While convenient these things won’t keep you going for long. Many of these options are packed full of sugar. Sugar effects the body and brain in many ways including; the obvious, weight gain, drains your energy, contribute to depression and many others as well. Something as simple as packing a few healthy snacks for your shift could make a difference. Some examples of healthy snacks for on the go could include; trail mix, avocado chicken salad, protein bars, jerky, veggies and dip, hard boiled eggs, cheese or protein shakes. These are just a few suggestions there
are many more out there. You won’t feel the need to reach for the vending machine food if you have something easy at your disposal.
These 5 things are just a few things you can do for self-care. Taking care of yourself should be one of your main focuses in order to care for others. While you may be able to get away with avoiding these things for a while, it won’t last and at some point, your body and mind are going to hit a wall. Take time for yourself so you can help those who need you most.