As a fellow nurse, I am sure you are as aware of the fact that our profession is often in the ‘spotlight’. Our work involves daily interaction with diverse groups of people, their families and entire communities. We speak to, care for and teach others every single shift. The public looks up to nurses; as we know we continuously get voted as the most trusted profession.
This ‘visibility’ creates an opportunistic situation for us, both as individuals and as a group. We can be the healthy role-models that people need in order to achieve successful behavior change. What an honor that is- to be able to help improve our patient’s lives in this noble way.
Yet an opportunity like this can also invite unintended pressures. We’re busy and so we don’t always have time for our own health and well-being. We’re helping others so we may not always put our priorities first. We can let the stress and strain of our job situations get the best of us and we may not always react with patience and presence.
How can we be healthy lifestyle role-models at work?
Here are three tips to get us started:
- Eat Healthy at Work. A nursing unit is a major hazard for poor eating habits. Skipping meals, binging on free pizza from grand rounds, or taking a bite between patients are all part of the nursing routine. As a leader and role-model for your staff, change it up one habit at a time. Suggest veggies for the work meeting snack. Advocate for 15 minute breaks to allow for eating in a seat. Present the benefits of mindful eating to your colleagues. Be the role model one healthy bite at a time.
- Get Moving. Now I know that nursing is physical work. Trust me, as a daily charge nurse; I was always on my feet. Yet this type of standing, walking and patient care is different than actual exercises that strengths the muscles, joints and bones. Another added bonus of physical activity? More energy throughout the actual work day. So gather your co-workers, and as a role-model, create a walking group, organize an outing to the park on your off day or engage in a group exercise class before or after your shift.
- Manage Stress and Relax. If only it was as easy as reading the words and thinking the thoughts. Nursing can be tough and stressful work. Yet this is the greatest space for role-modeling among colleagues. And a more relaxed staff ripples out to patient care; they can feel the peace and calm through your joy of working with them. As a nurse leader, introduce to your team a five minute pause break. Before report, gather the team and bring the awareness to the breath. Allow the group to sit in silence and just be. This type of relaxation surely goes a long, long way.
What would you add to this list? How can you be a healthy role-model at work and get your team on board? Be sure to tweet me @ElizabethScala to let me know. Thanks for reading!