by Jennifer Grenell
I was reading an article recently that cited research from Mayo Clinic that talked about stress and burnout amongst healthcare employees that leads to unhealthy behaviors.
I can relate to this. I’m a healthcare worker. I’ve been to nurses breakrooms to see what lives in there for quick snacks and treats. I’ve done the overnight shifts, the long hours where a bathroom break is a luxury, and at the end of the day, thinking that the last thing I want to do is sit down to a salad as a reward to celebrate the completion of a long shift.
Here are some strategies that I employ for myself.
- No matter what, pack a meal and a snack. Meal prep is an absolute in our house. Prepping breakfasts and lunches helps to deal with busy schedules. With getting up early to get to work, having prepped breakfasts avoids the temptation to either skip breakfast or eat processed foods that are convenient and unhealthy. Then, being able to pack a prepped lunch and a healthy snack sets a plan in motion for a healthy day.
- Schedule activity. At work, there is often a lot of movement in between patient rooms. I also set a goal of taking the stairs vs the elevator when possible. I also set a reminder after work to exercise. This is not only setting the tone for something to look forward to, but also a great stress relief. When I worked night shifts, I planned on when I was going to bed, committed to going to bed at that time, planned when I was going to wake up, and scheduled activity after I woke up.
- Schedule in the cheat meal. At the end of a long weekend, once per quarter, I will be human and schedule a cheat meal. It keeps me human. I also schedule healthy food, exercise, and water the next day as a commitment to get back on track.
These are just a couple of things I do to survive the stress of working in the health care industry. It is important to also remember to take care of ourselves so that we can deliver the best care to our patients.