Staying healthy and avoiding bugs in winter is tough for everyone. For nurses and other healthcare staff, it can be even harder. You spend your days surrounded by poorly people and their families, and as clean and hygienic as your workplace may be, you are always going to be at greater risk than the general public. Then, there’s the fact that there’s still a pandemic moving through the population, and this year there are sure to be more coughs, colds, flu, and other bugs, considering that we spent last winter in lockdown avoiding contact.
In a normal year, most of us will have four of five colds. This is perfectly natural, and for most people, while these colds will be annoying, they shouldn’t be completely debilitating. Unfortunately, there’s only so much that you can do to avoid the occasional sniffle. But there is a lot that you can do to boost your immune system, giving yourself the best chance to fight bugs off quickly and avoid anything more serious. As a healthcare provider, it’s also important that you care for your mental health during the winter months, which can be stressful and emotionally challenging. Here are some of the things that you can do to stay fit and healthy this winter.
Keeping warm doesn’t directly protect you from illness. Being cold doesn’t mean that you will catch a cold. But, keeping warm does help you to feel better and a warmer body temperature may help your body to fight off bugs faster. Unfortunately, keeping warm in the winter can be hard.
The rising cost of fuel means that, for many people, keeping their homes warm this winter will be harder than ever. Try turning your thermostat down to save money, then find ways to keep warm air in such as hanging heavy curtains, using draft excluders, and leaving your oven open while it cools down.
As You Commute
However you travel to work, the time that you spend outside will be the coldest part of your day. Make sure you’ve got warm boots, a waterproof coat, gloves, a hat, and scarf, and wear multiple light layers that you can add and take off when you need to. If you drive, make sure your car is warm, and get the heating serviced if you need to.
When you are at work, you might be limited to wearing a uniform, and you might not be able to wear sleeves. But you should be able to add a thermal base layer. Then make sure you’ve got something warm for your breaks and enjoy hot drinks whenever you can.
As a nurse, hopefully, you have excellent personal hygiene, but it’s easy to fall into bad habits or to forget how much the little things can make a difference. When it comes to avoiding illness, there’s nothing more important than practicing good hygiene and keeping your home clean.
One of the most important things that you can do is to wash your hands regularly and thoroughly. You are probably already doing this at work, but make sure your work standards follow you home and anywhere else you might go.
Keep Your Home Clean
Your home can be a playground for germs and bacteria. If left, they’ll grow and multiply and there will be very little that you can do to avoid illness. Make sure to wipe sides and touchpoints regularly, and wash towels and bedding once a week.
Keep Your Family Clean
If you live with other people, their cleanliness is important as yours when it comes to keeping your household healthy. Set a good example and teach your children and other members of your household about the importance of good hygiene. Buy products that are easy for them to use, and make sure it’s easy for them to practice the things that you are teaching them on their own.
Prioritize Your Mental Health
When we’re stressed and depressed, our bodies respond. You are more likely to feel ill, and to take longer to recover from your illness if your mental health is suffering.
As a nurse, you are bound to have some emotional days. You might be reluctant to take your work home, but talking about how you are feeling is important. Make sure you’ve got a great support network and people that you can be open with.
Do Things That Make You Happy
Doing things that make you happy is crucial for positive mental health and fighting stress this winter. For some, this might mean making time for hobbies and things that they enjoy. For others, it might mean taking time out to study, learning new things, and challenging your mind. An online course from Baylor University Online can be ideal and there are some great options for existing nurses.
Make Time for Healthy Eating
Healthy eating is hard when it’s cold and you are busy. It’s so tempting to grab easy, quick fast food for big warming meals. Try meal prepping, and make sure you’ve got plenty of healthy snacks close to hand to make it as easy as possible. When you can, try to include foods and ingredients with immune-boosting properties like citrus, peppers, broccoli, and garlic.
Fit Exercise into Your Routine
Exercise is great for your immune system, your mental health, and your fitness. You might not have time to hit the gym as often as you’d like, so find other ways to get exercise into your routine. Try walking or jogging to work, practicing short yoga routines before bed or even on your breaks, and develop a few home workouts.
Sleeping gives your body a chance to recover and refresh, keeping it at its best and boosting your immunity. If you struggle to sleep, try avoiding caffeine, getting into good routines, using lavender spray on your pillows, and sipping warm milk before bed.
Staying fit and healthy as a nurse can be difficult. But with good habits and small changes, there are things that you can do to boost your immunity and protect yourself and your family.