How to Stay Healthy as a Critical Care Nurse


October 24th, 2010

Working in the critical care unit is arguably one of the most hectic units to work in. And while you may be giving all your energy to ensure that your patients are alive and healthy, it’s important that you don’t forget to keep yourself healthy as well. After all, you won’t be much good if you allow your body to deteriorate. While you may think that you’re extensive 12-hour shift may prevent you from eating right and staying fit, there are a few simple things you can do around the workplace to stay healthy. Continue reading below to discover what those things are.

One of the most essential and easiest ways to keep your body healthy is to stay hydrated. Drinking the standard 6 to 8 glasses of water a day can do wonders—including helping you stay alert, flushing harmful toxins out of your body, and most importantly it can help regulate your eating habits. What most people aren’t aware about is that just because your stomach growls it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re hungry, sometimes it’s your body telling you you’re actually thirsty. So before you run off to grab a snack, try drinking some water first. Just make sure that you stop hydrating your body at least two hours before your shift ends—you don’t want to be awake all night (or day) going to the restroom to release all those fluids.

Another way to stay healthy at work is to avoid vending machines all together. Yes, they’re convenient, but it can hinder your health in the long run. If you do decide to grab something from the vending machine, at least make sure that you are opting for low-fat, low sugar and whole grain options such as a turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread, a bag of baked veggie chips or a bottle of unsweetened tea. It’s also important that you are paying attention to portion sizes—some bags of chips for example are actually two servings. On a similar note, do your best to make healthy choices at the cafeteria. And remember that if you choose a salad it doesn’t automatically mean it’s healthy— if you load it up with tons cheese, croutons and cream-based dressings you can do serious damage to your waist line.

You can also stay healthy by doing some light exercises at work if your schedule permits. For example, you can do some lunges or jumping jacks outside during your break or take walk around the unit. You can even try running (or walking) up the floor stairs. Anything that can get your heart rate going is beneficial.

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