When you think about summer, what comes to mind? If you’re like most people, it’s probably fun in the sun, vacation, and kicking back to relax. For nurses, however, summer can mean short-staffed shifts, longer days, an increase in the number of accidents to tend to, and worrying about your kids while school is out. With so many competing priorities, it’s vital for nurses to take a few minutes to brush up on steps they can take to stay safe and healthy through the hot summer months.
- Stay hydrated – Face it, you are on the go all day, and you need to stay fresh and sharp. Drinking plenty of water can help you do that since even mild levels of dehydration have been shown to take a toll on cognitive abilities. While it’s tempting to count coffee as a liquid, that doesn’t count. There is no real substitute for good fresh water. Keep a water bottle at hand and track your intake so you can be sure you are taking in water all day long.
- Manage Stress – Under the best of conditions, stress is a key hazard of working in a health care environment. It’s essential that you be mindful of your stress levels so that you can spot the signals of when you are close to getting overwhelmed. Develop a set of tools for managing your stress and put them into practice whenever you need them.
- Practice Self-Care – Nurses are famous for putting their patient’s care above their own. While that’s a good thing, it may not be the smartest. Of course, you need to take great care of those who are placed in your care, but you also need to take care of yourself! Whether it’s getting regular exercising, eating healthy, or taking time for yourself, the best thing you can do for those who depend on you is to take care of your own needs.
- Get Adequate Rest – It may not be easy, but you should do your best to avoid fatigue and becoming overtired. Exhaustion can lead to errors which can harm both you and your patients. You may not be able to control the number of hours you work, but you can ensure that you get enough sleep.
- Be Vigilant About Avoiding Workplace Injury – The healthcare work environment can present many dangers for nurses. While it’s important to guard against these all year round, summer stresses can add additional hazards. Needle sticks, patient handling, and chemical exposure are real threats.
While it is important that we all take care of ourselves, nurses should pay particular attention to their own needs to avoid common problems that occur in the workplace. An important first step is to think about those factors that can be controlled and how you can take steps to minimize risks. While you may always be tempted to put the well-being of others ahead of yourself, in the long run, the best thing you can do for your patients is to make sure that you are healthy and well rested.