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On the Job and Feeling Good: How Nurses Can Maintain Healthy Habits at Work

You already know how difficult it is to maintain healthy habits while at work. After all, you’re putting in long hours and caring for sick people. You’re super busy, and sometimes stressed. The vending machines aren’t exactly packed with nutritious treats—and what’s up with the box of donuts in the breakroom? You know a quick walk could energize you, but it’s hard to get away for even 15 minutes.

Unfortunately, unhealthy habits can take a toll. Before you start feeling truly terrible, why not find some creative ways to prioritize your health at work? These tips can help.

Workplace eating habits matter

It’s easy to eat poorly at work. The temptations are everywhere! That’s why it’s important to plan.

  • Blend a healthy smoothie and take it with you to work. Pre-pack snacks such as nuts, fresh fruit and vegetables and hummus.

  • Shake it up with new recipes. A Google search for “healthy packed lunches for work” yields 6.5 million hits. That should be enough to get you started!

  • Bring a reusable water bottle with you to work and set a goal for how much you’ll drink each shift. Add a little excitement with single-serve drink flavoring packets.

Your back is worth the extra effort

Nurses suffer from work-related low back pain more often than workers in other professions. And it’s easy to see why—standing for long hours, lifting and supporting patients, and hunching over a computer can all trigger back pain. Remember these tried and true practices:

  • Use proper form to lift and bend. Lift with your legs, not your back—every time.

  • Wear the right shoes. Your shoes should be lightweight, comfortable and provide good support. If you have problems such as wide feet, flat feet or bunions, make sure your shoes accommodate those concerns.

  • Unwind after work. A warm shower, 10 minutes of stretching or a walk around the block can help you (and your back) relax.

  • Strengthen your core. Strong back, pelvic and abdominal muscles minimize your risk of injury. Consider doing a regimen of planks, crunches and other core-strengthening exercises few times a week.

Pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you tweak your back, ask yourself: Am I doing all I can to protect my back right now? What adjustments can I make?

There’s strength in numbers

You aren’t the only nurse you know who is interested in a healthier workplace. Ask around to see if anyone would like to join you to:

  • Create a healthy cookbook

  • Compete to see who can bring in the healthiest, most delicious treats

  • Do a fitness challenge

  • Go for a walk during breaks

Not only will you be taking charge to improve your health, but you’ll be building friendships with your coworkers as you work toward your goals together.

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