They get through their days however it is necessary. They put their hair up, drink some coffee, and deal with it. Why? They’re made out of the stuff that gets it done一Moxie. They know that many times their patients can depend on them for the compassionate care they need一and so their own needs often fall to the back burner. When 12 hour days are really 14 hours, comfort matters even more. How can you care for yourself to keep going on these long days?
3 Comfort Tips For Nurses
Watch What you Eat
Ahhh...comfort food. When you’ve worked a long shift or struggled to connect with a patient, who doesn’t crave a freshly made grilled cheese, iced mocha latte, and french fries? What patient has not yet learned the way to a nurse’s heart is through their stomach? Donuts, chocolate, potato chips, and pizza are frequent pitfalls for hard working nurses who have inevitably skipped lunch to spend an extra 10 minutes with their patient.
According to the American Nurses Association (ANA), the stress of long shifts combined with the very nature of the job leads to poor food choices. The gifted batch of cookies, combined with the quick high-fat meal from the grill, can impact our health and well-being negatively. As caretakers, we are overlooking an important aspect of our own physical health, which can eventually lead to poor immune response, illness, fatigue, and weight gain.
How do we combat this spiraling issue? The ANA recommends planning and packing your meals in advance, allowing for conscious food choices with control of all ingredients, portions, and an adequate, balanced variety.
This can seem like a chore, but it does not need to be. There are healthy options which can easily fit into a nurse’s busy lifestyle. Try mixing a pre-chopped bagged salad with your favorite veggies, canned chickpeas, olives, and feta cheese. You instantly have 3-4 servings of a healthy Mediterranean salad to enjoy. Add a handful of almonds, some instant cold-tea bags for your water bottle, and you’re good to go!
By simply having an awareness of your food choices, you can feel good and keep your Moxie going too.
Make Sure your Clothes are Comfortable
Have you ever put on a pair of scrubs that bothered you so much on your shift you could hardly focus? The front pocket is too small or even missing. Your pens keep dropping out of them to the floor, or worse yet一into other unmentionable fluids. The waist is too high, or too low. The thighs are tight. Your neckline is too deep.
We know working as a nurse is not a fashion show, but you can be comfortable and sport your Moxie too.
Comfortable clothes can significantly improve your flow and productivity. Think about it...when there’s no tugging at your clothing, readjusting, or searching for the tools you need to do your job well, you can focus on the job at hand. Having pockets deep enough and right where you need them can positively impact your work flow. When these aspects flow seamlessly, you can focus on the task at hand throughout the day.
Think about how your clothing feels. It’s imperative that the material has a soft texture that breathes when running through your day, but can also envelop you in a comfortable warmth. Lightweight clothing that won’t catch as you are helping a patient through a bathroom doorway or standing for the first time after surgery can be critical to your safety and that of your patient.
Choosing comfortable, well fitting attire for your long day can be worth spending a few extra dollars to purchase. There should be no argument against ensuring high quality clothing that fits well for hard working nurses.
Take Care of your Feet
The variety of shoes made for healthcare professionals are astounding. Nurses are always searching, shopping, and comparing their new finds with fellow nurses.
Your feet hold you up for 43,200 seconds a shift一 if you have a 30 minute break and only work for 12 hours. It’s important to have comfortable shoes that support your feet throughout a long day.
Healthline suggests that when standing for the majority of the day, ensuring a good shoe fit is imperative. This means keeping the height of the heel between ¼ inch to a maximum of 2 inches. If the lift of the shoe is too high, it puts tremendous tension on your achilles tendon and can become uncomfortable over time.
You can also try increasing your shoe by half a size. This keeps your feet from forming blisters or becoming injured. Your feet actually become slightly bigger after several hours of non-stop standing, so your toes will thank you for a little extra room!
A good suggestion is to switch out your shoes six hours into your day (which gives shoe shoppers an excuse to own multiple pairs!). This is recommended because the cushion and support inside the shoe compresses and becomes less effective over time, leading to sore and tired feet after a long day.
Often, nurses only consider style and trends when it comes to choosing shoes for work. You can show your Moxie while making comfortable shoes a top priority.
Comfort equals energy
Nurses know that as much as they want to put their feet up and relax, their patients need their care. We help patients to the bathroom, push through their labor, or give that hope-instilling medication to fight their cancer. Making sure that we are caring for ourselves and our own comfort on these long days supports our own physical and emotional well-being immeasurably.
Our patients deserve us at our best. To give our best we must also prioritize our own comfort and well-being during these long, sometimes grueling, but always rewarding days.
A nurse with Moxie who’s comfortable and happy? Now that’s unstoppable.
Brenda is a freelance health writer who also specializes in labor and delivery nursing. When she’s not living her writing passion or catching babies, you can find her playing along with her three sons or catching up on her favorite novel.