Nurses are a wonderful and crucial asset to healthcare. However, whilst caring for others, it can sometimes be easy to forget about yourself. Whether you are relocating to the UK for your new job or just want some extra tips on how to keep safe and warm during the cold winter months, Medicare First have some tips on how to survive winter as a nurse.
How to Stay Warm in Uniform
Wearing a uniform may be difficult in extreme weather conditions. As a nurse (or when working in healthcare), it is very important to dress in a way which adheres to infection control to reduce the spread of winter viruses to patients. Although you may not be allowed to wear long-sleeves at work, you can wear thermals, you can wear thermals underneath your tunic which is an excellent way to keep warm (particularly if you are a travelling nurse).
Keeping yourself ‘bug’ free
Not only is it important for yourself to stay healthy, but you may also have to consider your patients. With viruses and other illnesses prevalent over winter, it is vital to stay ‘bug’ free- particularly when dealing with patients who have a weakened immune system. Here at Medicare First, we have comprised a list of the best methods to survive (and hopefully escape) the flu season:
- Wash those hands!
- Keep unwashed hands away from eyes, nose and mouth
- Get a flu shot
- Avoid contagious friends/family
- Stay hydrated
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Exercise regularly
- Wipe down surfaces daily
- Call in sick when you are ill
- Cover your mouth when you sneeze/cough
Feeling tired and sluggish after a long day at work? Exercise may be the answer to give you that energy boost your body is craving. During the dark and cold winter months, your body may become exposed to a number of bacterial and viral infections. However, exercise gives you that extra bit of strength to fight off these illness through boosting your immune system. Not only is it a great way to remain healthy and in shape, but the endorphins released during exercise can also help to de-stress and make you feel happier and more energised.
When working full time, it can often be difficult to eat a healthy diet. After a long day at work, a microwave meal may seem more appealing than cooking a balanced dinner. However, it is far more beneficial to keep to a healthy diet in the long run. It is recommended that men should have around 2,500 calories a day, whilst women should have around 2,000. By keeping to a healthy diet and consuming 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, you will improve your immune system and decrease the chances of many illness such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
It goes without saying that many people feel tired and sluggish in the winter. However, when it comes to getting enough sleep, it can be difficult to find the balance between work, social life and sleep. Getting enough sleep may become a particular issue for those partaking in shift work and irregular sleeping patterns. If you are regularly working night shifts, you may be at risk of developing shift work sleep disorder. Although this will not affect everyone, it is important to try not to work a large number of night shifts in a row. It is easier to recover from a night shift if you can schedule days off in between. If you find yourself suffering from a sleep disorder or insomnia after working irregular hours, we have provided a list of methods to help you:
- Avoid caffeine- Try to leave at least 6 hours between your last caffeinated drink and bed.
- Use Blackout Blinds or heavy curtains if you are trying to sleep during the day.
- Try to stick to a regular sleep-wake schedule as much as you can. This may be difficult if you work irregular hours, however, it may help to create a ‘winding-down’ routine that you can repeat before going to sleep.
- Use lavender- If you are having trouble getting to sleep spray some lavender miss on your pillow to help induce sleepiness. Lavender contains calming and soothing properties that can reduce stress and help you to fall asleep faster.
- Avoid drinking or smoking before going to bed.
Travelling to Work and Icy Roads
More often than not, those working in healthcare endure long shifts well into the night. With temperatures dropping (particularly in the early hours of the morning) the roads may become icy and dangerous. If you are commuting in your car, it is important to stay safe whilst you travel. Here at Medicare First, we have some tips on how to stay safe for the travelling nurses amongst you.
Prepare Your Vehicle
Before you set off, it is important to remove all the ice/snow from your car. This includes checking that your windows. mirrors and lights are clear and visible. To ensure that this is possible, always have a winter survival kit. This should include antifreeze, an ice scraper, and extra screenwash.
Note: Remember to never put yourself in danger- if the road conditions become too extreme, don’t risk the drive.
Breaking Down or Getting Stuck
In the unfortunate event that you break down or your car gets stuck in the snow or mud, turn your hazard lights on and make sure to be prepared. It may be helpful to have some emergency essentials in your car such as:
- A shovel (for scraping away snow or mud),
- A blanket or sleeping bag to keep yourself warm
- Some snacks
- A torch
It may be particularly important to store these in your car for district or travelling nurses that may be visiting houses in rural areas with poor road conditions.
Note: It may be helpful to have breakdown cover to ensure that you can get back home as soon as possible.
Despite the challenges that the weather may pose, nursing is a rewarding and fulfilling career choice. If you are living in the UK and want to consider a career in nursing, Medicare First may be able to help.
Check out some of the nursing jobs available around the country, submit your CV to us online or give us a call on 0161 509 7516 and we will be happy to answer any enquiries and discuss suitable roles for you in your desired area.