By: Fred Clinton
Not scientifically reviewed by Dr. Eeks
Working in the medical field is rewarding, but exceptionally demanding. Long hours on your feet, working night shifts, and constantly being on-call, leaves little time to take care of yourself.
But as the cliché saying goes, “you can’t pour from an empty cup”. Running on empty, having zero energy and being irritable are in no way going to make you a better health practitioner, and you aren’t doing yourself any favours either. In order to provide the best possible care for your patients, you need to do whatever you can to take care of yourself too. Here’s how to do it.
Dress For Comfort
Taking care of how you feel when you’re on shift is the first priority. Being uncomfortable while you’re working will only make things more difficult. Invest in high quality, comfortable scrubs that allow you to move comfortably and don’t feel too hot or restrictive.
Of course, any shift worker knows that comfortable shoes are a lifeline, so don’t be afraid to splurge in the shoe department.
Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
When you work irregular hours, having a structured sleep routine can be impossible. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t still make sleep a priority. Sleep can impact weight, mood, and various other factors that will contribute to your overall wellbeing, making it a crucial focus in your life.
Be sure to get at least 7 hours of sleep per day – whether that’s on a normal schedule or even throughout the day before a night shift. Practice meditation and take sleep supplements if you believe they might help.
Prep On-The-Go Meals
Nutrition also plays a major role in your health, energy and mood and will be your fuel to perform effectively at work. When you’re on a tight schedule, it’s easy to simply grab takeout or snack on bars all day long, but this isn’t what’s best for your body.
Create your own list of easy, go-to meals you can make and grab quickly before a shift. A good balance of protein, carbs and healthy fats is important to keep you energised and on your feet for your shift.
Having routines throughout your day is really helpful when you work irregular hours. Whether you have a morning or evening shift, you can rely on wake up routines, bedtime routines, day-off routines and any other kind you need to help you structure your day.
Coming up with a switch-off routine to practice after every shift is a great idea to help you destress and get your body into relaxation mode.
Make Time For Movement
As a health practitioner, there’s a high chance you’re already spending hours on your feet every day, and don’t even want to imagine adding more activity to your day.
However, engaging in some more mindful and dedicated movement each week is an important part of taking care of your mental and physical health. This exercise doesn’t need to be strenuous since you’re already very active – consider simply adding in some yoga, a hike or a class at the gym a few times per week.