As a nurse, you know how powerful lifestyle changes can be.
You counsel and encourage your patients to get proactive in the management of their personal health.
Now, turn the tables for a moment. If you were your own patient, is there some advice you’d like to see yourself heed?
This isn’t an exercise in shaming yourself into submission. This is a chance to kindly guide yourself toward a healthier you, just as you would a patient of yours.
7 Health Behaviors to Model for Your Patients
1. Quit Smoking
It’s nothing you haven’t heard before: smoking is associated with numerous health disparities, including heart disease, lung disease, stroke and cancer. And quitting smoking is one of the single most beneficial things you can do to improve your health and longevity. The CDC has helpful tips for kicking the habit for good. And SmokeFree.gov provides several resources for smokers who are interested in quitting, including some of the unexpected benefits of going cigarette free and ways to manage depression and stress.
2. Get Active
Regular physical activity is associated with lower depression rates, improved cardiovascular health and even higher Vitamin D levels (thanks, sunshine!) You don’t need a gym membership or a personal trainer to reap the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. The American Heart Association recommends two or three 10-15 minutes of activity a day to gain the heart healthy affects of exercise. Read more to find out why the AHA highly recommends walking as your go-to exercise. Among the top of the list: It’s free, it’s easy and the dropout rate of walking programs is among the lowest!
3. Limit Your Alcohol Intake
Many of us like to unwind with a cocktail or a glass of wine in the evenings. But sometimes that one drink can turn into two, or even three. Alcohol consumption can affect your quality of sleep, leaving you energy bankrupt the next day. If you’re really in the mood for some bubbly, give one of these mocktails a try.
4. Eat More VeggiesAre you eating the proper amount of veggies daily? Click here for Choose My Plate Dietary Guidelines.
The Choose My Plate dietary guidelines call for at least 2 ½ to 3 cups of veggies for adults. Check out this vegetable guide, listed by color. Rotating the colors you eat is an easy way to ensure adequate nutrition.
5. Give Yourself a Pep Talk
How many times have you head a patient who felt frustrated with their progress and doubted that change was possible? What do you say to them when they want to give up? Many nurses are great cheerleaders for others — its time to start giving yourself those same pep talks.
6. Don’t Self Diagnose on the Internet
The Internet has a wealth of information, some of it accurate, much of it not. When patients come to you convinced they have multiple sclerosis because they keep falling, when in actuality they need glasses, we chuckle and roll our eyes. You have medical knowledge and judgment that laypeople generally don’t possess, but researching some odd symptom you develop in the middle of the night can take you in all sorts of crazy and unhelpful directions.
7. Remind Yourself to Take it Slow
Slow and steady wins the race. Set small, achievable goals and acknowledge your achievements. It’s possible to make your lifestyle healthier, one step at a time.
Do you give patients advice that you wish you would follow yourself? Or maybe you give patient’s advice that you know firsthand works. Share with us.