Nurses: It’s Time to Walk the Walk
Posted: January 7, 2016 by Sarah Leavitt in Water Cooler
As most health professionals know, healthy lifestyles can be hard to achieve, and nursing professionals face the same struggles as their patients when trying to stay healthy. Just like the rest of the population, nurses struggle with chronic health problems like obesity, diabetes and more. So how do you prioritize your health, when so much of your day is spent focusing on improving the health of others?
Instead of thinking in clinical terms, consider your overall wellness. That incorporates things like how you feel, how much sleep you get and your general level of stress. When you improve factors like these, it can become easier to adhere to healthier behaviors.
And those healthier behaviors are associated with lower risk for long-term health problems. For example, high levels of stress can lead to increased alcohol and substance use, which in turn can lead to chronic health troubles. So decreasing your stress level, or managing it better, can have a ripple effect on your health.
So, how do you make changes to your well-being? A good place to start is by assessing the state you’re in now. This means staying on top of your health with appropriate screenings and preventive care, and taking stock of how you feel mentally and physically. You’ll be able to spot the problem areas — for example, you feel exhausted and drained everyday or perhaps your annual physical shows you have really high cholesterol levels. Once you’ve got a good handle on the state of your current health, it’s time to make some changes.
Baby steps for new habits
Of course, that’s easier said than done. But if you prioritize small, achievable actions instead of giant ones, you’re much more likely to succeed.
For example, don’t expect to become a marathon runner, or get 10 hours of sleep each night, all of a sudden. Instead, start small — take a half-hour walk three times a week, or commit to getting yourself in bed 30 minutes earlier each night — and you’re more likely to get these new behaviors to stick as lasting habits.
It’s about creating habits, after all. A healthy lifestyle — and the positive health benefits associated with it, like reduced risk of chronic disease — doesn’t just happen because you decide to eat salad for a few days instead of cheeseburgers. It happens over the course of a much longer period — think many more salads than cheeseburgers, overall.
And it’s best to start sooner rather than waiting. Identify even just one small change you’d like to make — drink more water, perhaps — and put it into action. Start by checking out a free assessment that takes stock of your health and wellness:Learn More: Click to view related resources.
- "HealthyNurse Resources," American Nurses Association
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