Putting Your Fitness First as a Nurse & Nursing Student
When you’re working full-time as a nurse and studying for an advanced nursing degree, staying fit can sometimes be a challenge. Even though you probably do a lot of physical activity when you’re on your feet all day at work, many nurses like to have an activity that they can have just for themselves that doesn’t involve work – and helps them to stay looking and feeling their best too. Taking on an advanced nursing degree while you are already working full-time as a nurse can be a challenge, and you might have found that in this situation, you are left with less time than usual to dedicate to staying fit. Here are some ideas that you might want to try.
When you’re on your feet all day at work, the last thing that you might want to do is spend hours hitting the gym hard. You will want to be careful not to burn yourself out, so it’s worth considering the moving around at work that you do as an exercise, and finding an activity that is both enjoyable and gentle for you to do in your free time, like yoga, swimming or walking.
Find Something You Enjoy
When you enjoy an activity, it becomes so much easier to do it. And when you spend a lot of your time working or studying, it is nice to have something to do that you genuinely like to take a break from your workload. Whether you like to meet up with a friend to go hiking on the weekend, play a team sport, or something else, think about the activities that you enjoy the most and choose those to be the ones that you do regularly. That way, you’ll be able to look forward to working out rather than simply becoming yet another chore.
All the exercise in the world can be rendered useless if you do not have a good diet. That’s not to say that one can replace the other, as you probably well know as a nurse, but it’s important to make sure that you are giving your body the right fuel to keep up with everything that you have got to do. Too often, many nurses find themselves giving their patients nutrition advice that they struggle to keep up with themselves because they simply don’t have the time. It might be worth getting into a habit of pre-preparing your lunches for the week and batch-cooking dinners that you can simply warm up so that you have less to do when you are busy and don’t feel as tempted to turn to convenience foods. And if you enjoy cooking, batch-cooking for the week ahead is a great excuse to take a break on a Sunday night.
Improve Your Sleep
Staying fit and healthy is much more difficult to achieve if you are not sleeping well. But when you’ve got so much to do, it can often feel like you just don’t have the time that you need to sleep. Try to avoid staying up late into the night to get everything done; this is only going to lead to burn-out, and you’ll end up in the opposite situation that you are aiming for as it can seriously impact your productivity. Try to get around 7-9 hours of sleep each night; it’s always better to leave your work to pick back up again the next morning when you are refreshed and revitalized.
Working flat-out has never been good for anybody, and as a nurse, you’ll know more than anyone just how important it is that you take regular breaks from your workload. Along with taking regular breaks from your study throughout the day, it’s a good idea to schedule one full day every week that you can spend relaxing and doing things that you enjoy. If you like, your day off could be the day that you go to the gym, go for a swim, go walking, or participate in some other activity that you enjoy if you don’t get all that much time to do it throughout the week.
Avoid Sitting for Long Periods
When you’re working as a nurse, sitting for long periods is probably something that you’re not worried about – but for nurses who are studying for online DNP leadership programs alongside working, you can easily find yourself falling into the trap of spending a lot of time in your chair. You might already be aware of the negative effects that this can have on your health, including an increased risk of several serious diseases, so put some strategies in place – even if you simply make sure that you get up to stretch your legs every hour. Investing in a sit-stand desk can also be useful.
As a nurse, you know the importance of drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated throughout the day – but are you practicing what you preach? It can be all too easy to forget to drink water when you are busy, and if you’re finding yourself with common symptoms of dehydration such as a dry mouth, feeling tired, or headaches, it’s probably your body telling you that it needs some water. Investing in a reusable water bottle can be a great idea; get a large one that you can keep next to your desk so that grabbing a drink of water is something you do automatically as you study.
Look After Your Emotional Health, Too
Of course, staying physically fit and healthy is important, but it’s also important to look after your mental and emotional health when you have so much to do. Build a strong support network of people who care about you and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it or talk to somebody when you need the support. You might also find it helpful to try some relaxation techniques like deep breathing and meditation if you start to feel overwhelmed.
Studying for an advanced nursing degree alongside working can easily cut into the time you’d usually spend looking after yourself. Keep these tips in mind and ensure you are always at the top of your game.