How to Promote a Healthy Lifestyle as a Healthcare Professional

Working in healthcare is very rewarding, but since it’s such a high-demand industry, it doesn’t leave healthcare workers with much energy or time to promote a healthy lifestyle.

A study by Southern Cross University found that, out of 6,000 nurses, almost 30 percent had a form of chronic illness, ranging from obesity to heart disease. 

It’s easy to understand the necessity for our healthcare workers to stay healthy since the majority of their job is making sure the community is happy and healthy. 

Through committing to reducing stress, eating better, and making lifestyle changes like the ones I’ve listed below, healthcare workers everywhere could see dramatic health improvements.

Try to Avoid Burnout 

With ten and twelve-hour shifts being the norm for most healthcare workers, staying active and exercising regularly can prove to be quite challenging. Lengthy shifts like these are connected to extreme fatigue and increased stress levels.

Another aspect for healthcare workers that prevents gym access, energy, and motivation are the irregular hours they’re subject to. More often than not, healthcare workers find themselves turning to fast food, takeout, and vending machine snacks for their meals.

A great way to combat this is to find a 24-hour gym, or one near your workplace that you can head to during the day, or right before or after your shift. Another way is to take walks outside your campus throughout the day. The sunshine and fresh air are great for increasing your energy and boosting your mood!

Related: Do You Feel Mentally Exhausted? How to Overcome Career Burnout

Take Care of Your Body to Promote a Healthy Lifestyle

Most healthcare workers spend the majority of their shift on their feet, moving patients, walking up and down flights of stairs, and transporting equipment. 

Protect your body from any unnecessary strains and tears by learning the correct technique whenever you’re bending, pushing, or lifting any patient or item, and remind yourself throughout the day to take small breaks off your feet.

Protect Yourself from Illnesses

It’s hard to make sure you stay as healthy as possible when you’re around sick patients all day. Reduce your risk of infection by taking the proper steps and recommendations to protect yourself, like wearing a face mask when necessary and washing your hands frequently. 

Communicate with your doctor about available vaccines that may be necessary for your career, and always follow all recommendations for using personal protective equipment!

Make Sure You Get Enough Sleep

Nursing is hard on a sleep schedule.

It’s a twenty-four hour, seven days a week, year-round profession. Nurses work nights, weekends, holidays, and every day in between, which leads to a pretty hard impact on sleep.

Getting quality sleep that ranges from seven to eight hours a night is necessary for your body to heal from any physical illness, as well as to maintain a healthy emotional balance. When you don’t get enough sleep, you get cranky. You’re also more likely to experience health effects, a lower immune system, and slowed metabolism.

As a healthcare professional, you should prioritize your sleep schedule and try to maintain at least seven hours a night.

How does lack of sleep affect your work?

Not only does sleep deprivation impact your personal health, but it may also impact your work ethics. 

Nursing requires accuracy and excellent judgment, so when a nurse is sleep-deprived, they’re prone to making mistakes, which could end up life-threatening for their patients.

You’re considered sleep deprived if you depend on an alarm clock to wake up, are addicted to coffee or other stimulants, make frequent mistakes, feel depressed, and are frequently sick.

Make Sure You Eat Throughout the Day! 

Along with making sure you have quality sleep, eating should be a top priority.

This means three meals a day, with snacks in between. 

When you keep your body fed, your body is more equipped to utilize the nutrients instead of storing the nutrients, which means less body fat. This applies regardless of the shift a healthcare worker is assigned. 

If a nurse works the night shift, they should still eat throughout their shift as they would if it were during the day.

Healthy Eating

Eating healthy takes commitment and planning. 

Avoid the hospital cafeteria or local fast-food restaurants, and bring your own lunch and snacks to munch on throughout the day. 

When you need to grab a snack, avoid the chips in the vending machine and opt for fruit or a granola bar. Drinking water will help you feel full longer and will help you avoid the sugar crash that comes from drinking sodas, coffee, and teas throughout the day.

Strategies similar to these will help keep you on track and full of energy!

Planning and Packing

Meal planning for each shift will not only help you stay healthy, but it will also help save money! When you have all the snacks and food planned out and packed to bring with you, you won’t find yourself spending $5 on a coffee each day, or dishing out quarters for the vending machine.

Also, by packing your food, you’ll know exactly what’s going into your body. If you know you struggle with a mid-shift crash, you can pack foods that help boost your mood and energy to help you make it through.

Drinking Water

Water is so important! It’s a no-calorie, no-sugar drink that boosts your mood, helps clear your head, and keeps your organs running smoothly.

Healthcare jobs are always in demand. They are careers that focus on the health of others, which means healthcare workers may struggle with checking in with themselves and making sure they stay healthy.

With long hours, rigorous schedules, and lots of stress daily, healthcare workers are naturally predisposed to obesity, stress, and inflammation, which go hand in hand with heart disease and diabetes. 

It’s time for healthcare professionals to put their health first. How can we expect our patients to take care of themselves when we can’t take care of ourselves first?

Although it’s not without its challenges, becoming healthy and working in healthcare is entirely possible! With portion control, exercises, and healthy eating, you can improve your health, and decrease your risk for chronic diseases.