One of the few drawbacks of working as a certified nursing assistant, or CNA, is the fact that though the work is rewarding, it is also very demanding. Dedicated CNAs often focus so much on doing a good job that they let their health fall by the wayside. The fact is, however, that you're not going to be any use to others if you aren't in good health yourself - both physically and mentally. With that in mind, read on to pick up some easy tips for maintaining your health and well-being as a CNA.
10 Tips to Stay Healthy as a CNA
- Get moving - Exercise is a crucial part of any healthy lifestyle, and it's especially important for busy medical professionals like CNAs. Since you are on your feet a lot and moving around often as a CNA, it pays to be in good physical condition. In addition to keeping you strong and helping you maintain your weight, regular exercise is one of the best stress relievers out there.
- Prioritize a good night's sleep - As busy as you're sure to be as a CNA, you may be tempted to burn the candle at both ends by staying up late to catch up on things. However, this will quickly backfire, as being sleep-deprived is one of the worst things that can happen in this line of work. Do what you can to consistently get a good night's sleep. If you work nights, invest in blackout shades to sleep more peacefully by day.
- Eat well - Busy medical professionals may constantly advise patients to eat healthily, but they often fail miserably themselves. As a busy CNA, you may find yourself forgetting to eat more often than not. When you do remember, you may turn to quick but unhealthy things like fast food and vending machine snacks. Proper nutrition is key to feeling well and doing your best, however, so take steps to eat as healthily as possible.
- Relax and unwind - Like many CNAs, your career may be just one tiny part of your very busy life. As a result, you may struggle to find time to just decompress. That's why it's crucial to actually set aside time for this and to really make it count. Whether it's meditation, yoga, a massage, a bath or some other relaxing activity, give yourself regular times and places to get back in touch with yourself. Even just 10 minutes per day can make a world of difference.
- Stay hydrated - If you ask virtually any nurse or CNA, they will tell you that they couldn't survive without coffee. Caffeinated beverages certainly can help, but they shouldn't take the place of good old water. Try to limit yourself to just a few caffeinated drinks per day. Otherwise, try to stick with drinking water. If you don't like the taste, you can buy flavoring that you can squirt in to give it a little more pizzazz.
- Maintain your hobbies - Once you get into the swing of things as a CNA, you're sure to be busier than ever. You may even feel like you can't keep up with your usual hobbies and pastimes, but that simply isn't true. Most of the time, it's simply a matter of rescheduling things so that they suit your lifestyle. At any rate, pastimes help you to achieve a better balance between work and life, so they are a powerful tool for any CNA.
- Socialize regularly - You don't have to be an extrovert to benefit from occasional contact with others. Even if it seems like you're just too busy to meet up with friends, the truth is that you just need to figure out new ways to make it happen. Even if it's just grabbing a quick coffee before work or a quick nightcap on the way home, interacting with others in a fun and social way helps you maintain your mental health.
- Visit the doctor and dentist often - With so little free time at your disposal, you may be tempted to put off trips to the doctor and dentist so that you can do more enjoyable activities instead. However, a tiny bit of prevention goes a long way, and regular checkups can help you avoid being down for the count with bad illnesses or dental problems. Employers sometimes allow employees to take breaks during the day for such appointments, so be sure to ask.
- Quit those bad habits - You are an adult, so you don't need to be told that things like smoking and excessively using substances like alcohol is detrimental to your health. If you currently have any habits like these, take steps to put them behind you once and for all. Although it may seem like an activity like smoking helps with stress, the truth is that it creates a vicious cycle that actually makes you more tense and stressed out. It is also, of course, very bad for your health.
- Get outside on a regular basis - Human beings literally need sunshine to survive. People in cold climates that receive little sunlight are usually deficient in vitamin D, and this can lead to depression and other problems. Regardless of where you live, make a point of getting outside for at least 10 to 15 minutes per day. A quick walk is all that it usually takes to reap the benefits of sun exposure, and getting out into the fresh air is always a great way to boost the spirits.
The main reason that CNAs and other medical professionals get burned out is because they simply don't take good enough care of themselves. You can't be a help to others if you're in trouble yourself, so keep the above healthy habits in mind in your career as a CNA.