4 Ways to Stay Healthy during the Holiday Season

4 Ways to Stay Healthy during the Holiday Season

Wherever you are this holiday season, here are four tips to help you stay healthy.

1. Put yourself on the top of your priority list.

Being nurses, we never seem to have time for ourselves. Make sure you take a moment during the holidays to relax and recharge. Pay attention to what your body, mind, and spirit need; this will allow you to renew and create reserves of energy and peace. Take care of yourself and give yourself a break if you feel overwhelmed and stressed out.

2. Eat what is right for your body.

Food is always a major theme of holidays; therefore, it is easy to experience holiday weight gain. Just because you are on holidays does not mean you should throw away all of your healthy eating habits. Make sure you always have access to fruits and veggies. Do not force yourself to eat everything, but choose what you most enjoy. Also, try to eat slowly as the brain takes about 20 minutes to let you know you are full. Drink plenty of water and cut back on soda as well as sugary and alcoholic beverages.

3. Stay active.

Staying active during the holidays can help mitigate some extra calories you may be gaining from food intake. Try to plan your workout schedule beforehand because it is easier to stick with it when you have it planned than to try to squeeze it in later. If you will be traveling within the United States, check out the USA Track & Field website for running or walking routes in your destination city.

4. Get enough sleep.

It is important that you maintain your sleep schedule during the holidays. Sleep is foundational to preserving our health and as important to good health as what you eat. Getting less than 7 hours sleep a night increases the risk for chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease, certain kinds of cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. Getting enough sleep can help balance your metabolism and improve your cardiovascular health.

Family Caregivers Celebrated This Month

Family Caregivers Celebrated This Month

This month we celebrate family caregivers. The 2018 theme for National Family Caregivers Month is Supercharge Your Caregiving. President Clinton signed the first Presidential Proclamation in 1997 and every president since that time has followed his lead by issuing an annual proclamation to recognize caregivers each November, for an entire month. For this year, President Donald J. Trump says “We recognize the challenges of caregiving and celebrate the joys of bringing support and comfort to a loved one. We express our gratitude to them for the work they do daily to ensure their loved ones are able to live in their homes and communities.”

Nurses play an important role in patient care including caregivers, and this role of care will expand with the increasing number of patients needing this care. Nurses are also well-suited to assess, educate, and support family caregivers who care for their loved ones, as well as contribute to evidence-based nursing practice to improve the quality of care for family caregivers. Nurses serve as clinicians, educators, counselors, and researchers who provide support and conduct research that addresses family caregivers’ ability to care for their loved ones.

Demands on caregivers are currently growing as the health care environment changes. Additionally, the number of people with dementia and multiple chronic conditions is rising. Family caregivers can be overwhelmed by multiple responsibilities and seek guidance for taking on the responsibilities of caring and planning for a loved one. Nurses are well positioned to help family caregivers to become more confident and competent providers as they engage in the health care process. Nurses are also an excellent resource for families who need support, guidance, and encouragement. Nurses can connect family caregivers with key resources to simplify the care planning process.

Here are some useful resources to help family caregivers address and cope with the challenges of caring for a loved one.

1. Caregiver Action Network

The Caregiver Action Network (CAN) is the leading family caregiver organization to improve the quality of life for Americans who care for loved ones with chronic conditions, disabilities, diseases, or the frailties of old age. CAN is a nonprofit organization providing education, peer support, and resources to family caregivers across the country free of charge.

2. Caring.com

This is the leading online destination for family caregivers seeking information and support as they care for aging parents, spouses, and other loved ones. It offers helpful content, advice from leading experts, a supportive community of caregivers, and a comprehensive directory of eldercare services.

3. National Transitions of Care Coalition

The National Transitions of Care Coalition (NTOCC) is a nonprofit organization addressing the issues and concerns related to transitions of care. The NTOCC provides tools to help health care professionals, patients, and caregivers establish safer transitions; and resources for practitioners and policymakers to improve transitions throughout the health care system. Most of these resources are available free of charge.

7 Foods that Lower Your Stress Levels

7 Foods that Lower Your Stress Levels

Nurses, on a daily basis, deal with various levels of stress both internal and external in caring for their patients and family members. Stressful events can cause our cortisol (stress hormone) levels to rise. Elevated cortisol levels increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart disease and interfere with learning, memory, and lower immune function.

There are several ways to de-stress and get a boost of endorphins. Eating for good health is one way that nurses can reduce the impact of stressors on the body and promote their health while working a shift schedule. There are certain foods with essential nutrients and vitamins that can help reduce stress.

Here are seven of the best foods to consume regularly to help combat your stress.

1. Chocolate

Chocolate is not only delicious but also has stress-reducing effects. A study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that eating dark chocolate with 70% cocoa or higher (contains more polyphenols and flavonoids) can lower levels of cortisol.

2. Berries

Blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries are high in vitamin C, which can reduce the production of excess stress hormones. Also, a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice without added sugar can lower stress hormones and help elevate mood.

3. Nuts

Almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, and peanuts contain selenium, a mineral that can help elevate mood. In addition, nuts contain magnesium, B and E vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids, which all work to help strengthen the immune system during times of stress.

4. Green Tea

Green tea contains rich L-theanine, an amino acid that helps enhance mood, promote relaxation, and lower levels of cortisol. Green tea also contains epigallocatechin gallate, an antioxidant that promotes brain health and lowers anxiety.

5. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a warming comfort food that helps to maintain blood sugar levels and increase the calm-inducing hormone serotonin circulating. Oats also contain Vitamin B6, an anti-stress vitamin, and melatonin, a hormone that supports healthful relaxation and sleep.

6. Milk

Milk contains the amino acid tryptophan, which helps produce serotonin. In addition, milk is high in antioxidants, vitamins B2 and B12, as well as protein and calcium. The protein in milk has a calming effect by lowering blood pressure. It is wise to have a cup of low-fat milk an hour or two before you turn in for the night. Having a scoop of ice cream containing milk product with none or less sugar occasionally is a good way to calm yourself.

7. Green Leafy Vegetables

Green leafy vegetables like spinach are rich in magnesium, the mineral that helps regulate cortisol levels and promotes health and feelings of well-being.

Eating these healthy foods is a positive step you can take every day to help your body combat stress.

Digital Challenges in Nursing Practice

Digital Challenges in Nursing Practice

Digital technology thus far is pervading and influencing nursing practices. Every nurse today is expected to be able to use knowledge, information, and digital technology to maximize their nursing care and improve efficient ways of working in the health care system. More than 50% of nurses reported using digital technology in their everyday nursing practice. The Future of Healthcare 2022 Hospital Vision Study shows that the use of mobile devices is expected to grow up to 40% for all hospitals across the countries by 2020, and 97% of nurses will use mobile devices at the bedside by 2022.

The culture for nursing care used to be a direct patient contact and care; however, the advancement of digital technology has changed the nursing and medical fields and made patient care more efficient. Both patients and care providers are now able to communicate remotely and access personal health information, lab results, and treatments at any time from their computer or smartphone.

Digital technology has changed the way nurses communicate and collaborate with patients and other health professionals. Nurses are able to schedule and record activities in real-time faster and with more accuracy. As a result, patients who have timely access to health care services can reduce the need for hospital admission and healthcare costs. Digital technology in health care is affordable and deeply engages patients in their treatment and recovery. It also brings opportunity for nurses to provide exceptional levels of care and improve their patients’ quality of life.

Digital technology will continue to evolve and nurses need to keep up with and be ready to utilize that technology and tools to deliver quality nursing care. Here are some tips to help you prepare yourself for improving your digital skills.

1. Be open-minded and change your perspective.

It is important that you see the advantages of digital technology at work and allow yourself to focus on the potential opportunities and positive aspects of technology rather than being inconvenienced.

2. Spend more time to explore and learn.

Write down the topics or skills you want to learn and set a goal. This will help you create a learning plan for yourself that fits both with where you are now and where you want to be next.

3. Talk to your expert colleagues and ask questions.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Asking questions is a sign of being open-minded and motivated to learn. Holding back on asking questions is a missed opportunity.

4. Be patient.

Learning a new technology or new skill can be frustrating and can take time. Be patient and give yourself plenty of breaks to digest and process new information. It is always possible to learn new technologies and skills. All it takes is openness to the experience and willingness to put in the necessary time to acquire new skills.

Take Action to Prevent Hepatitis at Work

Take Action to Prevent Hepatitis at Work

While nurses need to know how to care for patients who have hepatitis, they must know about hepatitis transmission and take action to protect themselves from hepatitis at work as well. There are several types, including hepatitis A (HAV), B (HBV), C (HCV), D (HDV), and E (HEV). Nurses have a higher exposure to hepatitis—particularly HBV—due to their line of work.

Recent research shows that some (but not all) nurses have knowledge about the mode of transmission as well as an effective prevention strategy. With World Hepatitis Day approaching (July 28), it’s a good time for all nurses to take action to educate and protect themselves. Since hepatitis can cause serious harm to the liver and is the most important etiology of liver cancer, the importance of timely prevention among nurses cannot be overemphasized.

Here are a few of the most important things to know about hepatitis when working as a nurse:

Mode of Transmission

  • HAV is usually caused by consuming contaminated food or water, fecal-oral pathway, and oral-anal sexual contact.
  • HBV is caused by contact with contaminated blood or other body fluids. The factors found to be significantly related with blood-borne hepatitis are needle-stick injury, attempted recapping of needles, or use of hollow-bore needles.
  • HCV is the most common cause of chronic viral hepatitis in the United States and is caused by contact with contaminated blood or other body fluids.
  • HDV is also caused by contact with contaminated blood or other body fluids.
  • HEV is caused by consuming contaminated food or water and fecal-oral pathway like HAV.
Prevention Strategy

When caring for a patient with hepatitis, preventing transmission to yourself and other patients is of the utmost importance. Here are four key prevention strategies you can to take:

1. Practice universal precautions at all times.

This approach to infection control recommends that you to treat all blood and bodily fluids as if they were infected and avoid direct contact. Always wear gloves if you need to draw blood or perform wound care. If the blood or body fluid spills onto the floor or another surface, it is important to have it cleaned immediately as the virus can survive in dried blood for up to 4 days. Make sure to dispose all items properly before coming into contact with other patients.

2. Practice good personal hygiene.

Practice good personal hygiene through hand washing, as good sanitation can help prevent a hepatitis infection. Always wash hands and use hand sanitizing gel before and after providing care to each patient.

3. Get vaccinated.

Both HAV and HBV can be prevented through a combination vaccine.

4. Follow your hospital’s protocol when caring for patients.

Make sure to refresh or update yourself about the hospital policies and guidelines when you care for infected patients or have potential contact with their blood or bodily fluids.

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