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The best Certified Nursing Assistants, or CNAs, are healthy CNAs. Due to the demanding nature of the work, however, staying healthy is often easier said than done. It's something you must work actively for and be consistent about from day to day. When you are strong and healthy, your long, demanding shifts won't seem so overwhelming. Adopt good habits now to ensure smooth sailing now and throughout the rest of your career.
Adopt the following habits to stay healthy as a CNA:
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Stretch Before Your Shift
You'll be on your feet all day and will probably be lifting and moving patients. Avoid pulled muscles and other injuries by stretching before every shift.
Eat Small, Frequent Snacks
If possible, bring small, protein-rich snacks like nuts to work and eat them every few hours. This will help give you the energy you need to get through long shifts in one piece.
Oftentimes, feeling tired, hungry, or stressed is caused by dehydration. Keep a water bottle with you and sip from it frequently throughout your shift. Avoid sugary, caffeine-laden drinks as much as possible.
Wear Protective Gear
CNAs often don't bother to use the protective gear they've been given, but it's provided for a reason: to keep you healthy. Therefore, always don your mask, gloves, and other gear whenever working in close proximity of sick patients.
At the absolute minimum, exercise three times per week for 20 minutes at a time. Some CNAs go for runs before their shifts; others squeeze in exercise time right after work. Regardless of when you do it, it will help keep you healthy and strong. As an added bonus, the endorphins make you feel great.
Avoid Heavy Meals
Try not to eat large, heavy meals during your shifts. They will make you feel exhausted and could even make you feel sick. It's much better to consume small snacks on a frequent basis.
Keep your immune system in great shape by taking a multivitamin. Even if you eat very healthfully, chances are you're not getting all of the nutrients you need. It's better to be safe than sorry, and a multivitamin is a quick and easy solution.
Get Lots of Sleep
Make sleep a priority. Stick to a consistent sleep schedule to facilitate this. When your body gets used to going to sleep and waking up at around the same times, it is more likely to cooperate.
Take Care of Personal Hygiene
Even if you wear protective gear, make sure to wash your hands frequently throughout your shifts. After all, you will be coming into constant contact with ill patients, and the last thing you need is to come down with a flu or cold.
Take Frequent Breaks
Make sure your schedule permits for small, frequent breaks. Ideally, aim for 10-minute breaks every one to two hours. This will help ward off fatigue and keep you healthy and strong to boot. If your manager won't allow it, consider finding a new job.
Maintaining your health and well-being is an integral part of being the best CNA you can be. Finding a balance can be tricky in the beginning, but the strategies highlighted above will help. By making your health a priority, you'll excel in your job and deliver exceptional care to patients.