Realistic Resolutions: Small Changes with Big Impact
Megan M. Krischke, contributing writer for Nurse Connect
Jan. 13, 2012 – “What is good for the patient is good for the caregiver,” began Carmen Ritz, MS, clinical physiologist, who manages the cardiopulmonary rehabilitation and wellness centers at Mercy Regional Medical Center in Durango, Colo. “Treat yourself like you would a patient or you risk becoming one. Patients know when we aren’t following our own advice. When you can share your own triumphs and successes you can’t find something more poignant to offer a patient.”
Gary Scholar, BS, MA, health and wellness consultant for the American Hospital Association, and author of Fit Nurse, agrees, “To know what to do for yourself, go back to your patients. Beyond medications, the three foundations for wellness are sleep, nutrition and fitness. All three of those interact. Nutrition plays a big part in sleep, as does fitness. And poor sleep habits lead to poor eating habits.”
“A good resolution might be to pursue better sleep. So often, night-shift nurses are consuming so much caffeine to stay awake during their shifts that it has a significant negative impact when they try to sleep during the day. I recommend that, especially night-shift nurses, schedule in low impact fitness, like yoga or tai chi, at the end of their shift.”
Ritz notes that nurses’ lives are already full. Many are working full-time, often on call and with difficult hours, and are caring for a family.
[pullquote style=”left” quote=”dark”]If you don’t have your health what do you have?[/pullquote]
“I like to look at what is going to give someone the most return for their investment. When I coach someone I have to ask, ‘If you don’t have your health what do you have?’” she emphasized. “You have to eat, so why not focus on nutrition and eating right? When you are eating well, you heal faster, you think more clearly and you are more able to care for yourself, your patients and your family.”
Set realistic nutrition resolutions
- Eat more fruits and vegetables. “Most Americans aren’t eating their ‘five a day’ so this is a great place to start because the nutrient-to-calorie ration is very good. Not only does eating more fruits and vegetables promote weight loss, it is just good healthy eating,” stated Bethany Thayer, MS, RD, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson “You could commit to trying new vegetables or new ways of preparing vegetables.”
- Eat like a king. Thayer suggests rethinking your eating schedule to follow the adage: Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen and dinner like a pauper.
- “Many people eat a lot of calories just before bed,” noted Thayer “Not only do you not need many calories then; but as your body works on digesting all that food, it can interrupt your sleep. You might sleep better if you stop eating a couple hours before you go to bed.”
- Think about what you drink. “Many beverages are full of calories but don’t provide the same sense of satisfaction as eating. Choosing water or lowfat milk over fancy coffee drinks, fruit juice and alcohol, will leave you healthier and with a few extra dollars in your wallet,” Thayer remarked.
- Reduce sugar. “Just reading food labels and making an effort to choose foods with six or fewer grams of sugar per serving, or foods in which sugar is not in the first three ingredients listed on their labels, can make a huge impact,” commented Scholar.
- Keep your blood sugar up. “Making a goal of taking the time to eat healthy meals and snacks while working will keep energy up, stress down and improve the quality of patient care,” Scholar said.
- Find healthy meats. It may take more effort to search out grass-fed beef, organic, pasture-fed pork and free-range chicken, but these meats actually provide better nutrients.
“Most of the nutrients we need are found in healthy meats and vegetables. A lunch of salmon and salad is quick and easy or some grass-fed beef and three vegetables is easy to pack and easy to take with you,” Ritz encouraged. “Amy’s Kitchen brand products are typically a choice that is both easy and healthy.”
Practice self-care, from the inside out
t isn’t always our bodies that are crying out for care, but our hearts and our spirits. If you are looking for a resolution that improves you from the inside out, consider the advice of Jennie Turton, certified life coach, owner and founder of Invigorate Life Coaching.
“I highly recommend journaling for 15 minutes or more as a way to release toxic emotions that build up from working in a stressful environment such as a hospital. We tend to want to immediately distract ourselves from the pain or stress we engage with during the day by diving into a TV show or movie or even a novel. Our brain actually needs an opportunity to make sense of and release intense emotions more than it needs to block them,” she explained. “By journaling our feelings, we give an outlet to those things; but it is important not to stop there.”
“It is also wise to take time to reframe those situations that were most stressful by coaching ourselves to see those situations from a bigger perspective,” Turton added. “For example, if you had a difficult patient or even lost a patient, it can be very helpful to first vent your own grief or pain through your writing. Then take the time to remind yourself of three or four other patients you helped to full recovery. Imagine their healthy bodies and see their smiles as they said ‘goodbye’ to you. Remind yourself of why the nursing profession is a rewarding one. Reframing activities such as these can do wonders to put our minds back in a peaceful place that will allow us to enjoy our free time.”
Keep (resolutions) realistic
ou have to look at what is sustainable. What can you do throughout the year?” reflected Scholar.
“To be sure that your goal is realistic, after writing it down, take stock of your confidence level. Do you feel at least 70 percent sure that you can achieve it? If not, scale back your goal until your confidence rises,” advised Thayer.
“We are all way too busy and it is important not to overwhelm yourself with changes. Pick one. Focus on that. When you succeed there and it is a habit, then pick a new goal,” concluded Ritz.
*Reposted from: NurseConnect
Realistic Resolutions: Small Changes with Big Impact