Year of the Healthy Nurse November: Mental Health and Wellness
In our continuing support of the American Nursing Association (ANA) Year of the Healthy Nurse Campaign, we are covering this month’s theme “Mental Health and Wellness.” With the days getting shorter and darker as the winter months barrel in on us, mental health and wellness take on added importance. The “winter blues,” or Seasonal Affective Disorder, is estimated to impact 10 million Americans with another 10 to 20 percent suffering mild symptoms. In addition to seeking out natural sunlight whenever possible, there are other steps that nurses and others can take to maintain their mental health.
Through the Year of the Healthy Nurse Campaign for November, the ANA is encouraging nursing professionals to focus on staying positive in all situations in the workplace and at home. There are resources available, including a free webinar for ANA members ‘Promoting Nurse Self-Care: Emotional and Mental Wellbeing’. With the natural stressors of a job as a healthcare professional, it is critically important for caregivers to make time to assess and take care of themselves. As the weather turns colder many of us engage in less physical activity, thereby increasing the risks of suffering from lower energy levels and more moodiness. This year, make a commitment to exercise and regular movement throughout the winter months.
Physical activity may not be a cure for all mental health conditions, but it is a proven method of reducing and even eliminating many of the symptoms. Regular exercise can improve sleep patterns, increase energy levels throughout the day, relieve the impacts of stress, eliminate the feelings of tiredness, and improve your mood.
In this space, we have shared with you articles about stretching exercises and also strength building exercises you can do in the workplace. At a minimum, revisit those articles (click on the provided links) and try to incorporate them into your routine this winter. Here are a few other ideas to help keep you moving and positive:
Get Outside. Unless there is a blizzard or a travel ban, don’t fall into the hibernation trap. Bundle up in that stylish new winter coat, and go for a walk. Or better still, try snowshoeing. Anyone can snowshoe, and with today’s equipment that straps right onto your boots, it is easy to get started. Head out to a local park and find an easy, level trail for beginners. In no time at all, you will feel confident enough to try more challenging trails while enjoying the crisp air and fresh smells of the woods around you.
Find a Class. Whether it’s a Jazzercise class or a Learning to Polka class, signing up for some type of active class is a great way to force yourself out of the cave and into the land of the living during the winter months. Check out the local “Y” for winter activities or check with the local school district for community education classes that involve physical activity. There are many things to enjoy if you take the time to find them.
Volunteer. We know, your time is at a premium, but arguably there is no better way to boost your own mood and others than by giving back to the community. Volunteer at a local food bank once a week or at a shelter for the homeless. It is not only a way to stay active, but you will super-charge your self-esteem, meet new friends, and make a difference. If you have teens in your household, ask them to join you and help out. Being active in the community always looks good on a college application.
Share your thoughts and ideas with your colleagues about staying healthy and positive. Especially during the winter months, what do you do to maintain your mental balance and avoid falling into the winter blues trap? Feel free to share your feedback in the comment section below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.