How to Stay Healthy While Working in Healthcare

nurse practice

Healthcare is considered one of the most rewarding careers that you can pursue, but it can also be demanding on your physical and emotional health. Often, healthcare workers spend all their time and energy taking care of their patients and neglect their own health and well-being.

If you are a healthcare professional, then it’s time to practice what you preach and make sure that your health is in top condition. Here are the best ways to stay healthy while working in healthcare.

Protect yourself from infections

Healthcare workers like physicians and nurses are exposed to a wide variety of bacteria and viruses that can cause serious infections and illnesses. It is important that you protect yourself against the risk of infection by following health and safety guidelines and taking extra precautions.

It is crucial that you wear suitable PPE (personal protective equipment) and wash your hands regularly or use antibacterial gel to kill germs. The most common types of PPE used in hospital settings include facial masks, eye protection, gloves, and protective overalls. Speak to your manager if you are unsure what PPE you should be using in your healthcare role.

If you work in the healthcare field, then speak to your doctor to discuss what vaccinations are available to provide extra protection against infections and remain up to date throughout your career.

Stay in good physical shape

Most healthcare roles are physically demanding. For instance, physicians and nurses are required to be on their feet for many hours at a time and lift/move patients. For that reason, you must usually be in good physical shape if you want to work in the healthcare profession.

Besides being a requirement of many healthcare roles, being in good physical shape will lower your risk of developing chronic health conditions like cardiovascular disease and type two diabetes. Regular exercise can also boost your endorphins and alleviate stress and anxiety, making it beneficial for your mind and body.

There are many advice blogs and ideas our there for ideas on how to stay fit if you are juggling a hectic work schedule and don’t have time to hit the gym, you will have to find the right one for you. According to policymedical.com, healthcare workers can increase their exercise by doing desk exercises, going for walks on their lunch breaks, or getting a treadmill desk.

Balance studying with work & life

The healthcare industry is constantly evolving, and many healthcare professionals earn additional qualifications to update their skills and expertise. For instance, registered nurses can complete a DNP program to advance their nursing skills and specialize in their preferred field, for example pediatrics or family practice.

Earning postgraduate qualifications can be an excellent way to excel in your healthcare career, but balancing studying with work and life can be challenging. You will need to take steps to protect your physical and emotional wellbeing and stay healthy while you are studying.

Opting for a part-time online course is usually the best option, as you will have the flexibility to fit learning around your schedule and study at your pace.

Eat three balanced meals a day

Eating three sit-down meals a day can be difficult when you are working long hours and irregular shift patterns. However, scheduling three meals a day is important to ensure that your body gets all that it needs to function at your very best. In addition, Live Strong states that eating three meals spreads your calories across the day and reduces unhealthy snacking.

Planning your meals and cooking in bulk will make mealtimes less time-consuming as you will already have food prepared. It should also make your diet healthier as you will be less likely to buy convenience meals and junk food when you get hungry.

Bring your own snacks to work

It is not uncommon for healthcare workers to adopt unhealthy snacking habits. Shift work and long hours can cause healthcare professionals to reach for sugary snacks and junk food when they need a pick-up at work. Failing to plan snacks is one of the top reasons why people eat unhealthy snacks at work.

Studies have shown that a lack of planning is a big contributor to unhealthy eating habits in nurses and other healthcare professionals. Bringing your own snacks to work will encourage you to make healthier choices and stop you from reaching for vending machines or treats left in staff canteens.

The best energy-boosting snacks for healthcare providers are nuts, popcorn, yogurt, fresh fruit slices, dried fruit, and hummus. Stock up on healthy snacks when you do your weekly shop and remember to eat them between meals to get a much-needed energy boost while you’re working.

Drink plenty of water

Water is essential to your health and you must replenish lost fluids by drinking liquids or eating foods that contain water. You should aim to drink at least eight glasses of water a day and more if you are doing lots of exercise or losing fluid through sweat.

Make sure that you sip on water throughout the day and remind yourself to drink regularly. It is best to stick with natural water, but you can also meet your daily fluid intake by consuming fruit juices, flavored water, and hot drinks. Try to choose sugar-free options so that you’re not drinking empty calories.

Take regular breaks to unwind

Working in healthcare can be physically and mentally demanding and you will likely need to deal with difficult patients from time to time. For that reason, you need to take regular breaks to de-stress and unwind. Make sure you take your breaks and try to get a change of scenery by going for a short walk outside.

Many healthcare settings have created breakout areas where staff can relax and unwind during their shifts. Give yourself time to de-stress in a calm environment, especially if you start to feel overwhelmed by your work.

Know the common signs of burnout

The nature of the job means that healthcare professionals have high burnout rates. Burnout is when you become emotionally and physically exhausted and this can lead to a decrease in job satisfaction, anxiety, and depression.

 

If you work in healthcare, then you must familiarize yourself with the signs of burnout. Common warning signs include feeling exhausted all the time, dreading going to work, a lack of empathy, and physical symptoms such as headaches and sickness. If you think that you might be experiencing the signs of burnout, then you should seek help right away.

Prioritize self-care

Self-care promotes good physical and emotional health and encourages you to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself. It puts your needs first and helps you focus on your goals and aspirations. We should all practice self-care every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

 

Here are some easy ways for healthcare professionals to practice self-care:

 

  • Express your thoughts and feelings by writing in a journal.
  • Pamper yourself with home treatments like a facial mask or hair treatment.
  • Relax in a hot bubble bath with scented candles.
  • Try stress-busting activities like yoga or meditation.
  • Cook yourself a healthy and delicious meal.
  • Learn a new skill or try a new hobby.
  • Catch up on your favorite TV programs.
  • Listen to soothing music.

 

Don’t be afraid to say no to people and turn down plans for the sake of your health and self-care. Remember that we all need an occasional break to recover and recharge our batteries.

Get plenty of sleep

Shift work is notorious for ruining people’s health. Working nights and unsociable hours makes it hard to maintain a good sleep routine. Sleep is fundamental to your health, and you need to make sure that you’re getting enough sleep every day to maintain good health and wellbeing. A lack of sleep can lead to various health issues such as depression, weight gain, and high blood pressure.

 

Experts recommend that most healthy adults need roughly eight hours of sleep a night. Try to get into a consistent sleep pattern that involves going to bed and waking at roughly the same time, even on your days off. You can improve your sleep quality by limiting your caffeine intake, avoiding blue-light emitting devices before bed, and creating a quiet and comfortable sleeping environment.

Ask for help

Healthcare workers face many challenges that can take a toll on their physical and emotional health. If you work in healthcare, then you shouldn’t be ashamed to admit that you’re struggling. There are plenty of things in place to help healthcare workers who feel overwhelmed or stressed in their job roles. Talk to your manager, human resources and co-workers for help in managing your wellbeing.

Summary 

Working in healthcare is rewarding and you will have the satisfaction of making a positive impact on the lives of others. However, you need to remember to prioritize your health and wellbeing and make time for self-care. Taking good care of your physical and emotional health will ensure that you can provide your patients with the best care possible.