Whilst we all enjoy the summer and a chance to recoup, many nurses may be looking ahead to winter and wondering how best to prepare themselves for when the temperatures start to drop and the nights draw in. Although some may welcome cosy nights by the fire or wrapping up warm in their favourite winter coat, it can be a period of increased demand in the healthcare sector and a time where nursing professionals should prioritise their self-care.
When colds and flus start to make their rounds, it is especially important for nurses to maintain their health so they can continue to provide exceptional patient care all year round. To remain bug free and avoid the ‘winter blues’, we have put together a useful survival guide with tips on how to stay healthy, both physically and mentally, this winter!
Top 5 winter survival tips for nurses
Although the colder months are the most challenging time of the year, due to huge demand and nurses themselves having to take time off due to illness, there are several survival hacks you can consider to stay on top of your nursing game and get through the winter! Here are our five top tips that you can easily incorporate into your daily routine:
1. Try to remain ‘bug’ free
Of course, this is easier said than done - particularly when surrounded by poorly patients all the time! But there are some steps you can take to remain cautious that are easy to implement into your day-to-day routine, such as:
Washing your hands regularly
Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth
Get your annual flu jab
Avoid friends and family if they are feeling unwell
Wipe down surfaces daily
2. Stay active!
When it’s cold outside it’s easy to slack on the exercise front, particularly with the shorter days and darker nights that make going outside that extra bit harder! But regular physical activity is so important for keeping the winter blues at bay, especially if you are stuck inside for 12 hours at a time.
3. Look after your hands!
Taking care of your hands and regularly moisturising is even more important during winter, as constant hand washing can leave your skin feeling chapped and raw. Treat yourself to some heavy-duty hand cream designed for healthcare settings and keep it with you when you’re on shift.
4. Eat healthily
When working full time and often under time constraints, eating healthily can be quite a challenge. But it’s incredibly important to remember to eat nutritious food when you can and trying to keep your fruit and vegetable portions up. If you need to, take vitamin supplements to ensure your immune system remains strong and reduce the chances of you catching a cold!
Darker evenings can lead to people feeling tired and sluggish during the winter and it can even have a negative impact on your mental health. Try to maintain healthy sleeping routines and strike the right balance between work, social life and self-care. Avoid caffeine too close to bed and if you’re trying to sleep during the day, invest in some black out blinds or heavy curtains. If you’re having to get up when it’s still dark, look into alarms that use natural light to gradually wake you up to avoid feeling too groggy.
Why self-care is important for nurses in the winter
Self-care helps to reduce stress and keeps your momentum and general mood up throughout the winter. Obviously, nurses should ensure that they look after themselves so that they can be in a position to provide the best care to their patients.
Self-care will be particularly important this winter, particularly if subsequent waves of Covid-19 continue to affect the population despite the UK’s vaccination program. If you are prepared for any challenge that may come your way, you’ll feel confident that you can continue to excel in what you do and enjoy your nursing career.
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