It’s that time of year again—the time where we struggle to whip our bodies into beach-ready shape. While some people may be successful in this endeavor, others can be left frustrated by the absence of six-pack abs or sculpted arms. But the reality is, not everyone has the time, money, or energy to devote to countless hours at the gym, especially nurses. Sure, exercising to be physically fit has its upside, but there are more reasons to exercise than to look good.
If you feel like you’re in a fitness slump, maybe these often overlooked benefits of exercise will change your perspective and reinvigorate your workouts. Hopefully, you’ll discover a newfound love of fitness in a way that feels right to you, your body, and your exercise goals.
1. Exercise boosts your mood.
Exercise increases levels of the feel-good chemicals in your brain like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which can elevate your mood almost immediately. Additionally, research has indicated that exercise may be a useful component of treating anxiety and depression. If you find you’re feeling down, an exercise session might be just the thing you need to enhance your sense of well-being.
2. Exercise can improve sleep.
Having trouble falling asleep or struggling with insomnia? Vigorous bouts of aerobic exercise (like walking or running), in particular, have been associated with a decrease in the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, an increase in the amount of time spent sleeping, and an overall improvement in sleep quality, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Although there’s still much to learn about the connection between sleep and exercise, it’s worth giving exercise a shot if you spend more time counting sheep than you do catching some shut-eye.
3. Exercise can increase memory and alertness.
The life-saving skills that nurses perform day in and day out require alertness and a sharp memory. Researchers from the University of British Columbia discovered that consistent aerobic exercise could increase the size of the hippocampus, the location of the brain that manages your verbal memory and learning. Even though the study was performed on women ranging in age from 70 to 80 years old, it’s encouraging research that suggests exercise may improve the function and structure of our brains. At present, it’s not clear which activities are the best to bolster cognitive health, but experts agree that some exercise is better than none at all.
4. Exercise may increase your chances of living longer.
“Science shows that physical activity can reduce your risk of dying early from the leading causes of death, like heart disease and some cancers,” reports the CDC. Furthermore, exercise is one of the few lifestyle modifications you can do to increase your chances of a long, healthy life. Just how much activity do you need? The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity to reduce your chances of premature death.
Don’t have time to complete a full-length exercise session or class with your jam-packed schedule? No problem! You can still experience the benefits of it with short bursts of exercise throughout the day—so, find something you like and get moving!
While it’s possible for ticks that carry Lyme disease or other tick-borne infections to be present year-round, they’re especially active in the spring and the summer months. May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month, and it’s a good reminder to exercise extra caution when you’re outdoors. To prevent tick bites when you’re outside, following these recommendations, according to the CDC.
1. Be cautious of your surroundings.
Wooded areas, leaf litter, and tall, overgrown grass are among the favorite hangouts for ticks. Steer clear of these areas as much as possible. If you enjoy hiking, walking, or running in wooded areas, try to stay in the middle of the paths or trails.
2. Use tick repellent.
The CDC recommends using a long-lasting tick repellent on your skin that consists of at least 20% DEET, picaridin, or IR3535. When applying the product on children, use the product as instructed.
If you’re looking for a natural alternative to chemical sprays, rosemary, lemongrass, cedar, peppermint, thyme, and geraniol essential oils have tick-repellent qualities and are commercially available at many stores.
3. Spray your clothes.
Planning to be outdoors for several hours to days? If so, consider pre-treating your clothes with a product containing 0.5% permethrin. Permethrin lasts for several washes and can also be used on outdoor gear like tents and hiking boots. Additionally, you can purchase pre-treated clothing from a variety of well-known sporting goods stores.
4. Bathe when you come indoors.
The CDC suggests bathing within two hours of coming indoors to wash off or identify any ticks that may be crawling on you.
5. Perform tick checks.
When you come in from outside, scan your body for ticks. This time of year, nymph ticks are the most active and may be small (like the size of a poppy seed) and can easily go undetected. Use a mirror so you can check your entire body, paying particular attention to the more hidden places like the belly button, behind the ears, the scalp, the armpits, the groin, and the back of the knees.
If you find a tick, promptly remove it by placing a fine-pointed pair of tweezers between the skin and the tick, and pull it straight out. You may want to save the tick to be tested and consider talking with your doctor. In highly endemic areas, your physician may choose to do a prophylactic course of antibiotics, or they may take a different approach to monitoring tick-borne diseases.
6. Check your outdoor gear.
Ticks can hitch a ride on practically any item, so be sure to carefully look over your things before bringing them into the house.
7. Inspect your pets.
Another vehicle ticks can use to move from one place to another is your pets. In addition to examining your pet’s fur, the American Kennel Club recommends looking in their ears, between their toes, under their tail, in the genital area, around their eyes, and under a collar or harness.
If you’re unsure of how to protect your pet this season, talk with your veterinarian about your options.
8. Dry your clothing using high heat.
To kill ticks that might be on your clothing, use the highest heat setting on your dryer for 10 minutes—ticks can withstand cold and medium temperatures.
Many people who contract Lyme disease or other tick-borne infections have no recollection of being bitten by one of these bloodsuckers. Although it may seem like a hassle, take tick prevention seriously because a small tick bite can cause significant health problems.
There’s good reason to take note of the emerging, digital detoxing trend that’s making its way through health and wellness circles. Many of us are glued to our phones, tablets, or computers at all hours of the day and night. With spring in the air, many people yearn for change this time of year, and a digital detox might be just the step you need to replenish yourself.
But are our social media habits taking a toll on our health and well-being? Research suggests this may, in fact, be the case. In the last few years, several studies have shown a link between social media usage and depression, anxiety, and loss of sleep, among other things. Nevertheless, our smart devices are almost never out of our sights.
“Every new notification or text triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that drives us to seek rewards, so you keep coming back for more,” explained Levi Felix, cofounder of Digital Detox, in an interview for Shape Magazine.
If you’re looking for a way to rejuvenate this season, consider unplugging and spending more time away from your digital devices each day. At first, the thought of disconnecting from the rapid-fire way people communicate may invoke a bit of panic, but a few digital detox strategies will help you feel calmer, less distracted, and more present in your day-to-day life.
Although you may not be able to forgo communication devices for long periods of time due to the nature of your job, here are three tips to get you started.
1. Use an old-fashioned alarm clock to wake up.
It’s common for people to use the alarm clocks on their phones to wake up each day. But if you awake in the night, you may be tempted to check your notifications, texts, or emails. When you do this, the blue light that’s transmitted from your electrical devices can disrupt your melatonin production, making it hard for you to fall back to sleep. Instead of using your phone, consider using an old-fashioned alarm clock to wake you up. You’ll be less inclined to check your messages and more likely to get a good night’s sleep.
2. Turn your phone off during breaks or meals whenever possible.
When you’re on a break with others, what do you notice? Most people’s eyes are fixed on small screens as they scroll through one post after another. The lack of meaningful conversations can make you feel detached from colleagues. Rather than pulling out your phone, try to engage more deeply with the people around you. You just might find that by strengthening your bonds with your coworkers, you begin to feel more engaged and excited about the work you’re doing.
3. Deactivate your push notifications.
If you receive push notifications from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or other apps, you might notice your free time is quickly gobbled up as you tend to the storm of information hitting you.
To regain some spare time in your day, deactivate or disable these notifications, and designate specific times when you’ll check your various social media accounts. By doing this, you’ll soon notice most things don’t require your immediate attention; you might even discover you feel less stressed out and tense when you minimize your 24/7 availability to the world.
As you get used to creating a more tech-free life for yourself, consider scheduling days where you unplug entirely. Take this time to read a book, visit a museum, or watch a movie. Adding more fulfilling activities into your life can be paramount to nurturing your overall mental and physical health.
With the stress of the health care profession, it can be challenging to rally your energy or exude optimism on a daily basis. If you’re in an administrative or management role, you may notice signs of dwindling happiness among the staff. Things like arguments among colleagues, less camaraderie, or increased turnover rates may be clues to indicate your coworkers are in need of a morale boost.
The best way to tackle a slump in team morale is to head it off at the pass with positive changes. Recognizing the extra time and effort your nursing colleagues give to the job and providing them with opportunities to learn and grow in the profession are a couple of the ways to improve job satisfaction. Here, we’ll look at four other ways to boost morale in the workplace.
1. Allow time for a lunch break.
Studies indicate only one in five people step away from their job duties to take a lunch break. But following the same fast-paced routine day in and day out without a pause can drain your energy and your creativity. Kimberly Elsbach, a professor at the University of California, Davis Graduate School of Management, told NPR, “We know that creativity and innovation happen when people change their environment, and especially when they expose themselves to a nature-like environment, to a natural environment.”
Encourage your nurses to take their lunch breaks and escape from the usual monotony of the day. They can head outside for a stroll around the block, order from a new restaurant, or sip on some antioxidant-rich green tea. Even just a few minutes a day can have mood-elevating effects and lead to a more positive work environment.
2. Foster an atmosphere of caring among your coworkers.
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in your own life. However, if you can celebrate your colleagues’ milestones — a work anniversary, an engagement, a promotion, a birthday, etc. — you can foster an atmosphere where your fellow nurses feel valued. The gesture of making sure your employees and coworkers know they are treasured assets to the company will go a long way toward getting people excited about coming to work each day!
3. Offer free continuing education or professional development courses.
When budgets are tight, continuing education and professional development courses are often the first items to be slashed. But continuing education and professional development courses bolster the tools that nurses need to help their patients, and sometimes, the cost of these courses comes with hefty price tags. By offering free, educational opportunities or subsidizing a portion of an enrollment fee, you support your employees in their desires to improve their skill set, cultivate their professional passions, and accomplish their long-term goals—which leads to highly-trained, loyal employees and a more uplifting work setting for everyone.
4. Learn effective communication strategies.
“To help prevent morale issues in the workplace, leaders need to spend time communicating their vision to ensure that ‘everyone is on the same page,’” suggests Jeff Parke, author of a Linkedin article about low morale in health care.
Communicating a concise message is key to managing employee expectations and conveying practical productivity guidelines. Parke states that capable leaders will permit employees to discuss these messages either in-person or during designated staff meetings, where employees have the opportunity to express their opinions and ask questions.
Allowing for feedback and the open exchange of ideas shows nurses that their thoughts and opinions matter when it comes to boosting morale in the workplace.
We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas on how to boost workplace morale, so feel free to leave us a comment below.
Sometimes, you just can’t squeeze an entire exercise session into your hectic schedule. But, if you can carve out five minutes before work, these three yoga poses can ease muscle tension, invigorate you, and jumpstart your day no matter how jam-packed your calendar is.
So, grab your yoga mat and get moving!