As a nurse, there are a vast array of factors than can prove stressful. In a field that demands a lot from its employees, staying on top of their health is essential to ensuring work performance is at its peak. More importantly, leading a healthy lifestyle is a key factor in maintaining a happy and fulfilling life. In order to do so, not only must one maintain physical health, but also a sound mind and spirit.
What is a Healthy Nurse?
According to the American Nurses Association (ANA), a healthy nurse is, “one who actively focuses on creating and maintaining a balance and synergy of physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, personal and professional well-being. A healthy nurse lives life to the fullest capacity, across the wellness/illness continuum, as they become stronger role models, advocates, and educators, personally, for their families, their communities and work environments, and ultimately for their patients.” This comprehensive definition of a healthy nurse is an accurate depiction of what it truly means to be a whole person. It is all encompassing, covering the many aspects a nurse may possess. Maintaining health in regards to mind, body, and spirit is an action that anyone can do to work towards the goal of improving the overall quality of their life.
As life progresses, there are many situations where one’s mind will be tested, whether that takes shape at work, school, or in daily life. Individuals can maintain mental health and keep the mind sharp in many ways, such as reading, staying social, and constantly challenging the mind. In a demanding field such as nursing, it can be easy to get lost in the daily cycle, therefore keeping the mind constantly active and alert can boost mental health as well as work output. In Eckhart Tolle’s 2004 book, The Power of Now, Tolle writes, “Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.” This quote by Tolle emphasizes an important principle - keeping the mind active in any current moment. By doing so, one can stay grounded in whatever task may be at hand, ensuring that they do the best that they can. As a nurse, staying grounded in the moment can make a big difference in both job performance and output. The ANA defines nurses as role models, advocates, and educators, therefore possessing a sound mind can have a powerful effect on those around them and allow nurses to express themselves and their teachings in a creative and intelligent way.
Maintaining physical fitness is essential, especially in a career that may be physically demanding. Many nurses work long, strenuous shifts, and are tasked with a vast array of responsibilities such as providing hands-on care to patients, traveling to multiple locations within a hospital or care facility, and confronting external stressors, such as patient deaths. All of these situations take a physical toll on nurses, who then need to manage it in various ways. Physical exercise not only promotes health, but it can be an effective release from stress or tension. Carmela Marasigan, Assistant Nurse Manager in the Cardiac Care Unit at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, often walks in her neighborhood to relieve stress. She says, “I find that sweating is a great stress reliever. They say that when you sweat, you release all your toxins.” As a nurse, staying physically healthy is a key component as an advocate for better health. Advice from a nurse would likely resonate more with patients and individuals if they can see the results of exercise and physical well-being personified. Staying on top of physical health can also motivate individuals around nurses, illustrating that despite rigorous work schedules, there is always time to enrich physical fitness. By engaging in activities that keep them fit, nurses can then educate others based on their experiences.
Maintaining a healthy spirit is just as integral to a nurse’s life as mental and physical health. Staying in high spirits involves creating happiness, being self-aware, and constantly expanding one’s consciousness. Happiness is one aspect of being that can overlap with other parts of life to create a well-rounded, overall balance. According to a workingnurse.com article, a tip to nurses is to, “Carve time out of your schedule for leisure activities you enjoy and any spiritual practices that are meaningful to you.” This advice is effective because it is a way to separate attention from the external world and focus on the one within. By being self-aware, it is easier to make the necessary changes in one’s personal life to ensure that they are in a situation which brings them satisfaction. The quote also highlights spiritual health, a component of health that cannot be measured by anyone other than an individual themselves and their own personal journey. Spirituality works hand-in-hand with mental and physical fitness, as it keeps individuals calm, focused, and strong. Being in high spirits whether at a hospital, school, or at home has the potential to spread to other individuals, increasing the sense of positivity and joy. By enjoying every given moment, nurses are able to uphold their high level of impact and efficiency, which in turn makes for a healthier population.