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Are you thinking about becoming a nurse or just starting a career in nursing? This is an exciting time and the start of a new chapter in your life, but it will always feel overwhelming at first. No amount of study will prepare you for life as a nurse, and many people struggle in the early stages of their careers. When you work shifts at antisocial hours, deal with all kinds of patient problems and work in a high-pressure environment, it is fair to say that it can take its toll.
Lifestyle Advice For Nurses
There are a few lifestyle tips that should help in the early stages and help you to find your feet.
Learn By Observing Experienced Nurses
There is a huge amount that you can learn as a junior nurse simply by observing the more experienced nurses that you are working with. If possible, try to build a relationship with them and find a mentor so that you can speak with them and get advice. There is a strong bond in the nursing community, and this can be incredibly helpful when you are just getting started as nurses can help you to avoid common mistakes, give you handy tips and look out for you in what can be a challenging period.
Improve Your Organizational & Time Management Skills
You could be a highly skilled nurse with a high degree of knowledge, but you will find it difficult to succeed if you do not possess excellent organizational and time management skills. These are two areas that you should work on as they can make it much easier to manage your workload, improve your performance and stay on top of everything. Nursing can feel a lot like spinning plates at times, but when you are organized and know how to use your time effectively, it will be much easier.
Stay Healthy While Working
When you are working long, antisocial hours and in a high-pressure environment, it is easy to forget to look after yourself. This can be a downfall for many nurses because it is easy to pick up bad and unhealthy habits. Instead, you need to try and stay healthy while working, which will include taking breaks when you can, drinking plenty of water, and eating a healthy diet (trying to limit unhealthy snacks!). You will be covering a lot of ground each day as a nurse, which means that you do tend to get plenty of exercises each day – just make sure that you have a decent pair of shoes.
Use Meal Prep
Leading on from this, you will find that meal prep is perfect for nurses when your time and energy are precious. During your time off, you can prepare your meals for the entire week with meal prep and keep dishes in boxes in the fridge or freezer. This should help you to maintain a healthy diet both at home and at work, plus it will free up time for you to enjoy later in the week as you will not have to cook during your time off. It is easy to fall into the trap of instant or fast food when you are exhausted after a shift, but when you have meal prep, it should help you to avoid this and maintain a healthy diet.
As a nurse, you will find that it is difficult to maintain a healthy sleep schedule. This is because of the shifts that you are working, and it is never easy to go straight to sleep after a shift when your adrenaline levels will be high, and your mind will still be racing. This is why you need to plan ahead when it comes to sleep and try to get as much as you can throughout the week. It is not easy when you are getting started, but you will get the hang of it before long.
Make Plans For Your Free Time
You also need to make plans for your free time to avoid simply crashing on the sofa after a shift (although there is nothing wrong with doing this from time to time). You need to fit in relaxation, hobbies, seeing loved ones, and other life responsibilities that you have. Shift work can take a bit of getting used to, but many nurses would not change it for a regular 9-5 once they get the hang of it as it can provide a good work-life balance, and having multiple days off in a row can give you plenty of time to recharge and make the most out of your time off.
Look Into Online Programs
In healthcare, you will often be working towards advancing your career, and study is key for this. One of the best lifestyle tips is to find accelerated online courses that will make it much quicker and easier for your to progress your career. As an example, an accelerated BSN program online is an intensive program that will help to prepare people for roles in nursing from non-nursing backgrounds without the need to study and train for several years. Online programs will be easy to fit around your work schedule and other responsibilities for balance in your life.
Be Wary Of Burnout
Unfortunately, burnout can be an issue in nursing and is prevalent during COVID-19. Burnout can sneak up on you, which is why you need to be aware of the early signs and take action. Burnout will not only impact your performance at work, but it can affect all areas of your life and lead to physical and mental health issues. If you are worried about burnout, you should speak to your employer and try to take action to find ways to reduce stress, get more time off and lead a healthier lifestyle.
Hopefully, these lifestyle tips will come in handy for those starting a career in nursing and help you to find your feet. It can feel overwhelming at first, but you will learn quickly, and these tips should help you to succeed at work and find a healthy work-life balance.