ROLL CALL – ALL NURSES, REPORT IN! Nursing ranks at the top among the most admirable professions across the globe. You trained for years to become a nurse, and now you work long, hard shifts almost every day of the week, selflessly putting the needs of your patients above your own every day.
When most people think of “physically demanding” jobs, nursing probably doesn’t come to mind—BUT WE KNOW! You work long, tiring shifts. All day and all night long, you move about the facility wings – back and forth from the nurse desk to patients’ rooms, and wherever duty calls you to go. You think nothing of it; you are just doing your duty and taking care of your patients. But after you get home, your legs and feet are tired and sore.
What can I do to take better care of myself while I am on shift?
We’re glad you asked! You do so much for your patients, so you (of all people) deserve to be feeling the best and staying as healthy as possible during a long-term career in nursing. Here’s some great ways to stay healthy and take care of yourself while you are on shift. Be sure to share with your fellow nurses so everyone can reap the benefits!
- Stay hydrated! You are moving around and burning a lot of water out of your system; be sure to replenish frequently. Mix it up and be sure to drink something high in electrolytes from time to time.
- Take breaks! This is good for both your physical and mental health. We’re not just talking about lunch here. For every hour you are on shift, try to squeeze in 5 minutes of quick “down” time. Stop and read an article. Find somewhere you can turn the lights off for a minute and close your eyes (even 5 minutes of having your eyes closed is clinically proven to rejuvenate you!) Step outside and relax on a bench and catch some fresh air.
- Stretch. Doing some quick stretching of your arms, legs, and core once or twice a day while you are on shift will provide you the longevity you need to make it through the days and nights, with less cramping and tightness.
- Eat healthy. The options available to you while you are on shift are usually fast, but they aren’t always the best for you. Try to balance out to-go orders with some packed lunches you can make for yourself at home. This is the best way to ensure you have healthy options that will get you the right energy you need to make it through the long day.
- Wear nursing compression socks. Yes, compression socks. This is far less heard-of than the traditional well-being advice above, but it is rather beneficial to your overall health, so let’s take a deep dive on this below:
Why should I wear compression socks or compression stockings on shift as a nurse?
Several medical studies have proven the tremendous positive health effects of wearing compression socks or compression stockings for persons who work long shifts and who are frequently standing or sitting (or a combination thereof) during the shift. This includes nurses, pilots, flight attendants and several other occupations. Wearing the best compression socks for nurses or compression stockings while on your shift can help:
- Decrease your leg pain
- Decrease swelling in your legs, ankles and feet
- Improve the symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome
- Decrease cramps following your shift
- Reduce the likelihood of developing varicose veins, spider veins, and venous insufficiency
- Improve circulation and blood flow in your legs (which can also decrease your risk for developing a blood clot / DVT)
- Give you the positive feeling and support you need to power through those long, tireless shifts as a nurse!