I am nurse.
I care about others and how well they’re eating, how well they’re sleeping, how much they’re exercising and I bend over backwards to ensure they have those needs met.
Now, while bent over backwards, breathe in and bring awareness to how much that actually hurts your back. Ouch!
If you’re still young, your body will serve you well, so it might not be clear just how much harm you are causing to yourself, dear one, but I am calling for you to be mindful of how you treat yourself. If you are older, you might be regretting all those long shifts of junk food, caffeine and sleep deprivation. I’ve been there and done that. I say it’s never too late to make a change and heal.
You can’t help it, I hear you say? This is just the way of the nurse. It’s how I get through the day and what IS my life without coffee?
I agree, we all have our vices and we’ve grown dependent on them.
I’d like to ask you to close your eyes and fast forward to when you’re 65 years old or beyond. I want you to hold that image of the older you in your mind and send forth your gratitude to her. Send forth your kindness and respect. Appreciate that she is a whole person and that she has hopes and dreams and needs that must be met, but in order to meet those needs, she needs to be well. Understand right now that you have the power to change her life for the better. YOU are her only hope.
Some simple steps you can take right now to help you age gracefully in your high-stress nursing career.
1. Learn a new language you’ll love.
It’s been proven that being bilingual can slow the effects of aging and delay the onset of alzeimers and dementia. Bilingual people tend to suffer less memory loss and confusion as they age. I know you are BUSY, but perhaps you have colleagues who are bilingual. Ask them to talk to you in another language and learn while you work. Brush up on a language you were taught in school and speak it with people who are fluent.
2. Travel, change your environment, try new things, stay diverse.
Keep your brain stimulated. Keep your social circle diverse. Having younger friends and older ones of various backgrounds can help keep things fresh. You are exposed to diversity daily with your work. Have some fun conversation. Try travel nursing for a spell. Nurses are in demand world-wide, apply for a job in a country you want to experience.
3. Find an exercise routine you love.
Weight training, daily walks, swimming and gyming can improve bone density and muscle strength. Nurses should have a gym available at work. Ask management to consider getting one. This is a win-win situation for all. Healthy nurse, healthy patient, healthy business. Take the stairs when possible. Use an elliptical while watching your favorite show or listening to an audio book. Exercise with friends and family for bonus points. Socialization AND self-care! Yay.
Water and hydrating food like cucumbers, watermelon, grapes. Warm, delicious tea with lemon, honey and a pinch of love! Oh and ginger tea. Ayurveda calls ginger the universal medicine!
5. Bend over backwards for yoga.
I would not be the YogaNurse if I didn’t recommend yoga and mindfulness as THE best gift you can give to the older you. It has been such a blessing in my life that I made it the focus of my career and it became my mission to integrate yoga into nursing. Stay tuned for info on how to do yoga even when you’re too busy.
6. Eat whole foods – the meals get colorful and delicious.
If you don’t have time, then try meal prep Sundays. It will ensure you have a healthy variety of food during the week and healthy snacks for work. Get family and friends to help with meal prep or if your budget allows, hire a service that does this for you. Buy a food processor and other time saving equipment. Speak to management about bringing in more healthy options at the cafeteria. Wean yourself off from unhealthy foods.
7. Nap, rest, sleep.
Turn down some events if you must, cut down on Netflix binge nights, turn off your tech at a certain time of the day, get blackout curtains and meditate your way into dreamland.
One thing at a time. Bite size pieces of change.
As an exercise to connect with your older (and wiser) self:
Write a letter to your 70 year old self and share it with me if you so choose. Simply hit reply and send. Or keep it to yourself, seal it with love, save it for your future self. Feel free to copy/edit the letter I’ve written to 70 year old me and make it yours. BTW, I am close to 70! Can hardly believe I’m writing this…and here you go, with love...
Dear 70 year old me,
I hope that you are healthy and strong and that you are living the best life that you can. I hope that the gifts I’ve given you today come in handy. I am learning a new language so that you may travel and blend in with the locals. I am trying new things so that you stay fresh and healthy. I’ve fostered strong relationships with people I trust and I know some of them will be there for you on lonely days. You’re never too old to hang out with younger people and you’re probably blowing their minds right now with how much energy and passion you have for life.
Not to mention, you can do yoga with the grace of a Goddess. Yas Queen!
I am thinking of you and I pledge right now that I am dedicated to your well-being and being free of stress, anxiety, pain and suffering.
Here is a list of mindful gifts that I choose to give to you:
A strong body, love, self-care, a strong support system, meditation, yoga, whole foods, rest, relaxation, hobbies, fun memories and kindness.
I will be my best self, so you can be your best self and meet your higher Self.
With gratitude and love,
Gratitude, love, bliss.