Working in the Healthcare Industry
Health care workers are more at risk for health-related problems than employees in other industries. The long hours and shift schedules that nurses and doctors work put a strain on their body that affects them emotionally, mentally, and physically. Research dedicated to healthcare workers shows that as the number of work hours increase, so do the number of illnesses, physical problems, and mood disturbances, such as anxiety and depression.1
One of the more common health concerns among healthcare workers is lower back pain due to frequent bending and the moving of patients. Nurses and doctors in particular need to be in good physical condition, so they can meet the demands of their job.2
Healthcare workers are also at risk of sleep problems from the hours they work. When you don’t get enough sleep, your mental and physical health may be jeopardised. You may start to feel fatigued even when at work and this can cause sleepiness and medical errors on the job.3
If you’re a healthcare worker, to reduce the above risks, it’s important that you maintain a healthy lifestyle, not only for your own health but also so you can provide adequate care for your patients. This includes making time to exercise, getting enough sleep, and eating a healthy diet for which you can use a healthy food app, with added supplements if needed.
Finding Time to Exercise
One of the best things you can do to maintain a healthy lifestyle is make the time to exercise every day. Exercise can help to relieve stress and anxiety as it releases endorphins into your body. This may help your overall mood as well as keep your body fit and strong.4
As a healthcare worker, it can be difficult for you to find the time to exercise. Try to make it a priority. Get creative with the physical activities you enjoy. Even making small changes daily can make a difference, such as using the stairs when you can or taking a 10-minute walk on your break. Daily walking can improve your fitness, lower blood pressure, and is good for heart health.5
Take advantage of any fitness programs that are available where you work. Many hospitals and healthcare institutions are recognizing the benefits of fit employees by offering a fitness program. The better physical condition you’re in the more you’ll be able to meet the demands of working in healthcare.
Supplementing if Necessary
Consider taking supplements to provide your body with adequate amounts of nutrients that you may not be getting from the foods you eat. Best supplements for healthcare workers include the following:
Vitamin B Complex – B vitamins help your body convert food into energy, but it can sometimes be hard to get adequate amounts from the foods you eat. Studies show that B vitamins can help to increase your energy.6
Vitamin C – Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. Taking a Vitamin C supplement may help strengthen your immune system and reduce your risk of getting sick.7
Iron – Research shows that taking an iron supplement can improve symptoms of fatigue. As well, women in their reproductive years are more at risk for iron deficiency and should consider supplementing their diet with iron.8,9
Magnesium – Numerous studies indicate that magnesium may be able to help you relax, which can then help you sleep better. Consider a magnesium supplement if you’re not getting enough in your diet.10
Testosterone – Low levels of testosterone may cause fatigue and low energy, particularly in men as they age. Male healthcare workers may want to take a testosterone booster, like HF Delta Prime to increase their energy levels.11
Always consult with your doctor before adding supplements to your diet.
Getting Adequate Sleep
As a healthcare worker you’re required to work long hours and shift work. This can cause sleep loss and may make it difficult for you to fall asleep. Sleep loss can make you feel even more fatigued when you’re awake and on the job.1
Shift work can have even more of a negative impact on how you sleep. You may have problems falling asleep or wake up repeatedly during your sleep cycle. Shift work can affect the body’s natural circadian rhythm for sleep and throw it out of balance. This can cause not only fatigue but other health problems such as cardiovascular disease. You may not be able to change the hours your work, however there are some things you can do to better manage your sleep:12
- Set a bedtime routine that allows you to relax at least 30 minutes before bed.
- Nap when you can; even a 30-minute nap before your shift can alleviate fatigue.
- Avoid mental stimulation before bed, such as reviewing work for the next day.
- Create a sleep environment that is dark and quiet.
- Turn off your cell phone when sleeping.
- Use earplugs or white-noise to reduce sounds around you.
Studies also show that exercising daily may help to improve the quality of your sleep as well as the duration of sleep.13
Consider taking melatonin as a supplement. Research shows that melatonin may improve sleep quality and help shift workers fall asleep quicker.14
Sticking to a Healthy Diet
A healthy lifestyle means having healthy eating habits. With the hours you work you may feel you don’t have enough time to plan and eat right. There is a lot of evidence showing that nurses and doctors often make poor food choices which can negatively affect their mental and physical health. By eating healthy, you can reduce some of the stress and risk factors that come with working in the healthcare industry.15
There are some things that you can do to eat healthier and get the nutrition you need:
- Have healthy foods available at home.
- Plan a week of meals and prepare before your shift.
- Pack your meals and take them with you to work. This way you have control over the foods you’re eating and can avoid the vending machine.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Eat high fiber carbs and lean protein.
Developing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle means focusing on healthy eating habits. This includes eating foods that are high in nutrition. Healthy eating will help improve your overall health, making it easier for you to work in the fast-paced and often stressful healthcare industry.
- Trinkoff, A. & Geiger-Brown, J. (2017). Patient Safety and Quality: An Evidence-Based Handbook for Nurses. BMC Psychiatry. 17: 167. Retrieved on October 2, 2018 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK2661/
- Mehrdad, R. & Shams-Hosseine, N. (2016). Prevalence of Low Back Pain in Health Care Workers and Comparison with Other Occupational Categories in Iran: A Systematic Review. Iran J Med Sci. 41(6): 467-478. Retrieved on October 2, 2018 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5106561/
- Takahashi, M. (2012). Prioritizing sleep for healthy work schedules. J Physiol Anthropol. 31(1): 6. Retrieved on October 2, 2018 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3375037/
- Mikkelsen, K. & Apostolopoulos, V. (2017). Exercise and mental health. Maturitas. Vol-106: 48-56. Retrieved on October 2, 2018 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29150166
- Murtagh, E. & Murphy, M. (2010). Walking – the first steps in cardiovascular disease prevention. Curr Opin Cardiol. 25(5): 490-496. Retrieved on October 2, 2018 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20625280
- Laquale, K. (2006). B-complex vitamins’ role in energy release. In Movement Arts, Health Promotion and Leisure Studies Faculty Publications. Paper 25. Retrieved on October 2, 2018 from https://vc.bridgew.edu/mahpls_fac/25/
- Carr, A. & Maggini,S. (2017). Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients. 9(11): 1211. Retrieved on October 2, 2018 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29099763
- Houston, B. & Hurrie, D. (2017). Efficacy of iron supplementation on fatigue and physical capacity in non-anaemic iron-deficient adults. BJM Open. Vol-8: 4. Retrieved on October 2, 2018 from https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/8/4/e019240
- Coad, J. & Pedley, K. (2014).Iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia in women. Scandinavian Journal of Clinical and Laboratory Investigation. 74:sup244,82-89. Retrieved on October 2, 2018 from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/00365513.2014.936694
- Jahnen-Dechent, W. & Ketteler, M. (2012). Magnesium basics. Clin Kidney. 5(Supple 1): i3-i14. Retrieved on October 2, 2018 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26069819
- Angwafor, F. & Anderson, M. (2008). An open label, dose response study to determine the effect of a dietary supplement on dihydrotestosterone, testosterone and estradiol levels in healthy males. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 5:12. Retrieved on October 2, 2018 from https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-5-12
- Akerstedt, T. & Wright, K. (2009). Sleep Loss and Fatigue in Shift Work and Shift Work Disorder. Sleep Med Clin. 4(2): 257-271. Retrieved on October 2, 2018 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20640236