Between work, fewer daylight hours, and the fast-approaching holiday season, it’s easy to experience burnout this time of year. If you’re feeling resentful, unfulfilled, exhausted, or bored of your job, these are your body’s warning signs that it’s time to make some changes—fast! Check out the following tips to reduce stress and beat holiday burnout.
1. Take inventory of your work-life balance.
Chances are good your work-life balance has gotten out of whack. When you’re home, are you able to disengage from work? Or, do you find yourself continually thinking about your job even when you’re not there? How’s your sleep, or your exercise regimen? If you’re overly focused on work and neglecting the activities that enhance your life, now is the time to reevaluate how you spend your time. Try shifting your attention to the things that increase your energy and sense of optimism, as opposed to drain or diminish them.
2. Immerse yourself in self-care.
As natural-born caregivers, it’s almost standard practice to put other people’s needs before your own. But if you want to beat burnout, it’s essential you incorporate a variety of strategies to help you unwind, relax, and rest each day. Maybe there’s a novel you’ve been excited to read? Or, perhaps you’ve been craving some time immersed in nature? Find whatever it is that de-stresses you and carve out some time for yourself. If need be, mark it on your calendar, and make these self-care activities non-negotiable. To combat burnout, you must continually recharge your mental, physical, and spiritual battery.
3. Set boundaries and stick to them.
This time of year, it’s almost a given that you’ll be tempted to overextend yourself in some way. But the more depleted you become, the closer you’re inching toward full-blown burnout. Set your boundaries for your work and home life and stick to them, even if you’re concerned you might be letting others down. Simply put, you can’t function well if you’re running on empty or ignoring the parameters you’ve set in place to revive you.
4. If you can take time off, consider doing it.
Nursing is a 24/7 job, and patients’ health needs don’t stop just because the holidays are approaching. Knowing that others depend on you can create a sense of pressure that makes you feel like you can’t take time off. However, if you have the option to use some of your vacation time, consider doing it. Time away from work will help you feel less overwhelmed and more rejuvenated. Plus, you don’t need to travel if you don’t have the time or money; planning a short staycation might be just the thing you need to rest up.
5. Attend a continuing education class.
If you’re like me, your email inbox is flooded with a list of end-of-the-year sales for continuing education courses. There’s nothing quite like learning a new skill or deepening your understanding of an existing technique to re-invigorate your nursing practice and know that you’re helping your patients to the best of your abilities, and you’re combating burnout in the process!
Low back pain is a common complaint among many health care professionals. With long hours on your feet, repeated bending, and twisting, it’s no wonder your spine is aching at the end of the day. If you’re looking for a fast, safe way to get some relief, a foam roller might be just the tool you need to release the tight tissues of your body and ease your discomfort.
Plus, foam rollers are reasonably priced and can be found online or at most stores that sell sporting goods. Although they come in different shapes, densities, and sizes, a basic, high-density foam roller is a great place to start to learn some beginning techniques and learn what feels best to you.
Here, I’ve rounded up three videos that will show you how to use a foam roller to reduce or eliminate your back pain.
Be a better nurse. Sleep more. Eat healthier. Exercise each day. Try this new diet.
If you’re like most nurses, you see and hear these messages every day. But some days, you just can’t fit in all the necessary self-care tips you’re supposed to incorporate into your life. Maybe you find a way to get more sleep, but it’s at the expense of exercising. Or, to be a better nurse, perhaps you’re spending less time on healthy eating, so you have more time with your patients.
Are there some lifestyle hacks to burn calories and fit more fitness into your life without a lot of hassle?
Yes, there is! In this article, I discuss five ways to burn 100 calories a day without adding more stress to your life or rearranging your schedule to accommodate huge chunks of time. With these simple strategies, you don’t have to head to the gym for extra calorie-burning.
1. Take the stairs.
You likely have several opportunities throughout the day to take the stairs (as opposed to waiting in line for the elevator). Since the stairs are often readily available to you, they’re easy to incorporate into your daily routine with next to no additional time spent. If you take the stairs for a minimum of 10 minutes per day (provided you keep a consistent pace when you’re moving), you’ll burn right around 100 calories.
2. Chuckle out loud.
In 2005, researchers at Vanderbilt University found that 10-15 minutes of belly laughter a day could burn up to 50 calories. If you spread that belly laughter our during your shift, you’ll not only burn 100 calories, but you’ll boost your mood and smile your way through the day in the process.
3. Pick up your walking pace while at work.
For those of you who track your steps with an app or device, a brisk, one-mile walk will burn approximately 100 calories. Although your typical day probably consists of several starts, stops, and periods of sitting down, pick up the pace in locations where you have a longer jaunt (like from the parking lot to the building, down long hallways, through the cafeteria, and more). This way, you’ll sneak in exercise while on duty.
4. Stand whenever possible.
An article from Shape magazine suggests standing, as opposed to sitting, for a minimum of 40 minutes per day to burn 100 calories. Also, the article mentions you don’t have to stand for 40 consecutive minutes—You can break it up into four 10-minute segments, which might be more suitable in a busy setting.
5. Cook dinner for yourself and your family.
Shredding, chopping, dicing, and cleaning up your culinary endeavors will give your metabolism a jolt even before you eat. Depending on how vigorously you cook, 40-50 minutes of cooking prep is sufficient to hit the 100-calorie mark (and maybe more).
Over time, the calories burned by making these small changes will add up. It can’t get much easier than this to torch calories.
As the days get shorter and the temperatures gradually decrease, it’s evident the colder months of fall are upon us in many parts of the country. Soon, you’ll be carving pumpkins with your kids or attending holiday gatherings, and your work may add to the stress of your busy life.
As we watch the leaves change colors and drop from the trees, we’re reminded of ups and downs this year has brought. Maybe you finally got the promotion you’ve always wanted. Or, maybe you had to deal with an unexpected family or health issue. Perhaps, a combination of less daylight and long shifts have you feeling burnt out. Whatever the case, the change in seasons often brings about a time of reflection over the past months.
If you’re looking for ways to stay motivated during the colder months, grab your favorite, warm beverage, a cozy blanket, and curl up with these inspiring, fall quotes:
1. In the entire circle of the year, there are no days so delightful as those of a fine October, when the trees are bare to the mild heavens, and the red leaves bestrew the road, and you can feel the breath of winter, morning and evening—no days so calm, so tenderly solemn, and with such a reverent meekness in the air.
~ Alexander Smith
2. I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house. So I spend almost all the daylight hours in the open air.
~ Nathaniel Hawthorne
3. How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.
~ John Burroughs
4. The garden of love is green without limit and yields many fruits other than sorrow or joy. Love is beyond either condition: without spring, without autumn, it is always fresh.
5. The spring, summer, is quite a hectic time for people in their lives, but then it comes to autumn, and to winter, and you can’t but help think back to the year that was, and then hopefully looking forward to the year that is approaching.
6. Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.
~ Lauren DeStefano
7. I’ve never known anyone yet who doesn’t suffer a certain restlessness when autumn rolls around… We’re all eight years old again, and anything is possible.
~ Sue Grafton
8. Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.
9. Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.
~ Stanley H. Horowitz
10. Anyone who thinks fallen leaves are dead has never watched them dancing on a windy day.
~ Shira Tamir
You’ve heard about the benefits of having a strong core to protect your back while you work. But what exercises are you supposed to be doing? The Pilates repertoire, consisting of hundreds of exercises, focuses on strengthening the muscles of the abdomen, back, pelvic floor, and buttocks while lengthening and toning your entire body. Best of all, you don’t have to do endless crutches to achieve results!
When doing Pilates, the quality of the movement is more important than the number of repetitions you perform; it’s more beneficial for you to complete six reps with perfect form than 25 messy ones. Your technique is the foundation for seeing and feeling results.
Additionally, Pilates can be customized to meet your particular fitness level, so it’s ideal for people who are athletes, people who are new to exercise, and everyone in between. If you’re looking for a low-impact way to strengthen your core, grab a mat and check out the following exercises.
1. Plank Pose
Begin on your hands and knees. Your shoulders should be directly over your wrists, while your head maintains a neutral position (you can achieve this by shifting your gaze to the floor about one foot in front of you).
Next, straighten one leg behind you so your toes are on the ground and your thigh is lifted off of the mat. Then, walk the other leg out behind you the same way. Now, you’re in a plank position. Try to hold this pose for five to eight breaths. Slowly, bring your knees back to the mat and rest.
If you find this pose easy, concentrate on details like drawing your abdominals inward, aligning your head with your spine, and bringing your feet shoulder-width apart.
If this pose is challenging for you, you can modify it by dropping down to your knees. Even if you are on your knees, try to draw your abdominals towards your spine, keep your shoulders over your wrists, and keep your head in proper alignment. If possible, hold for five to eight breaths. With practice, you’ll gain the strength to do the full pose.
2. Rolling Like a Ball
Sit on your mat with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your arms on the underside of your thighs or around your knees and draw your abdominals towards your spine. Fix your eyes on your scooped belly, but don’t crunch your neck—Imagine lengthening your neck as you bend it. Inhale as you rock back to your shoulder blades, and exhale as you rock up to a seated position. Repeat this motion six times.
If this exercise is simple for you, fix your eyes on your belly throughout the whole movement. When you rock back up to the seated position, use your abdominals to control the motion and don’t let your toes touch the mat.
If this exercise is too difficult, you can lie on your back and practice rocking in a smaller range of motion. When you get stronger, you can increase the difficulty by drawing your abdominals towards your spine and focusing on your belly. Soon, you’ll be ready to try the full exercise.
3. Cobra Pose
Lie on your stomach with your arms bent at 90-degree angles by your shoulders, your legs hip-width apart, and your forehead resting on the mat. The tops of your toes should rest on the mat as well.
Next, scoop your abdominals towards your spine to support your low back, and slide your shoulder blades away from your ears. Inhale to initiate the movement of your head like you’re rolling a marble out with your nose. When your head is in line with your spine, engage your back muscles and lift your chest and palms off the floor as well. Exhale as you lower back down to the mat. Repeat six times.
If you’re familiar with this pose, make sure your shoulder blades aren’t creeping up towards your ears and continue to scoop your stomach towards the spine. Although this movement is small, it’s powerful if you activate the appropriate muscles.
If this pose is hard for you, keep your palms on the mat and use them to assist you as you lift up your chest. When you’re ready, you can add in the rest of the elements of this exercise.
Pilates is an effective way to build functional, core strength. If you’re struggling with any aspect of this practice, consider attending a group class or taking a few sessions with a certified Pilates instructor to improve your form and body awareness.