The last of an eight part series, Karen’s Corner outlines advice and insight on going back to school from our very own Dr. Karen Whitham, assistant dean, undergraduate nursing programs.
When you’re in a helping profession like nursing, it can be very hard to make yourself a priority. But as the airline stewardess will tell you before every flight, you need to take care of yourself first before taking care of others. As healthcare professionals, we owe it to ourselves and our patients to practice what we preach. How can we advise patients on nutrition and exercise, if we can’t find the time to do so for ourselves?
Delegate what you can
We like to tell ourselves that we don’t have time to exercise. But how much time do we spend doing things we could delegate? Are you packing lunches for your children because they can’t do it for themselves, or are you overcompensating for the fact that you’re not a stay-at-home parent? Do you insist on doing the laundry because no one else can, or because you like it done a certain way? Think about what you can delegate that will give you the time you need to take care of yourself.
Plan and prep healthy meals
If you plan your meals a week in advance, you’re more likely to come home with the items you need to put healthy food on the table at home and at work. Be on the lookout for dishes you can make ahead. Make a little extra so that eating leftovers can save you time in the kitchen. Keep your refrigerator stocked with grab-and-go items that are good for you: crunchy carrots, broccoli and cauliflower mixed up in a container. Keep fresh fruit and nuts around. Stay ahead of the hunger curve, by eating smaller, healthier meals throughout the day.
Put fitness on your schedule
We often make the mistake of thinking that a small amount of exercise won’t do any good, but that is simply not the case. Fifteen minutes of stretching each day can do your body a world of good, saving you the pain, time and expense of treating chronic conditions that will arise if you ignore your body. Likewise, a small amount of cardio exercise three times a week will not only help you avoid heart disease, it will give you more energy and increase your metabolism. My best advice is to start small and put it on your schedule. If you can find a workout buddy, this helps too. Most of all, if you miss a workout or have to cut one short, remember every little bit of exercise makes a difference. So get right back up on that horse and ride!