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Archive December 2018 XIX, No. 12

Self-Care: 8 Steps to Make Self-Care Part of Your Routine

Simple practices to keep yourself on your priority list.

Lisa Ertle

Lisa Ertle, BA, RN


Lisa Ertle, BA, RN
HOME GYM No time to exercise? You can do wall sits or pushups at the nurses station.

There is nothing sadder than surgeons and nurses who work really hard, but don't take care of themselves. Sound familiar? We spend every day in the service of others, but sometimes neglect to care for ourselves. Here are 8 things you can do today to enhance your mind, body and spirit.

1Exercise when you can. OK, so the pedometer on your fancy watch says you've met your goal, but what about increasing your strength? Here's the solution: do some wall sits. Stand with your back flat against the wall and feet on the ground, shoulder-width apart, about 2 feet from the wall. Slide down the wall until your bent legs are as close to a 90-degree angle as possible. Hold the position while contracting your abs. This exercise will challenge your core and quadriceps. To work your biceps, simply do pushups on a stable desk or nurses' station. Building more muscle will increase the number of calories you burn, and may make you less prone to injury.

2Your waistline is as important as the bottom line. You're 5 cases in and have only had coffee, so those cookies in the PACU are looking pretty good. You grab some and get on with your work, but eventually your sugar drops and you are stuck in a room. You owe it to yourself to do better. Pack daily snack bags for the entire week. If you eat everything in the bag, you could have plenty of calories left for lunch and dinner. Some healthy suggestions: 1 hard-boiled egg (78 cal.); 1 rice cake (40 cal.); 2 light cheese sticks (100 cal.); 1 orange (45 cal.); ΒΌ cup almonds (162 cal.).

3Hydrate yourself. Be honest. How many glasses of water or non-caffeinated beverages do you drink per day? Dehydration could eventually have an effect on cognition and mood, which doesn't make for a happy team. Even if you can't make time for your 8 glasses, make it a point to always hydrate when you wake, at each meal and in the evening. Also, don't overlook fruits and vegetables as a source of hydration. Items like fresh spinach, cucumbers and melon are made up of more than 90% water. Don't forget your team. Put up signs in break rooms to remind staff to hydrate throughout the day.

4Adopt an attitude of gratitude. Recognizing the positive things in your life could do you some serious good. A great deal of research has been devoted to uncovering the benefits of being thankful. Some of these include: improved relationships, better sleep, and improvements in both physical and psychological health. Make gratitude part of your routine; at the end of your day, focus on something good that happened. It could be how patients benefitted from your skills, how the team worked well together or simply that you had a laugh with a colleague. Take advantage of opportunities to let others know when you are grateful for their help.

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