An alarming study conducted by Phiri, Draper, Lambert, and Kolbe-Alexander, (2014) made me title this blog “A Sick Workforce: Nurses’ Lifestyle Behaviors”. In a qualitative analysis, the study examined the lifestyle behaviors of nurses. Nurses have an elevated risk of non-communicable diseases also with a high incidence of obesity, unhealthy eating practices and poor physical activity.
The results showed that nurses working during the night shift gained lots of weight and suffered with hypertension. Therefore, due to being obese, it caused a negative impact on job performance. Other health issues identified were working in a stressful environment, exposure to tuberculosis and other occupational health hazards. The nurses in the study mentioned that their unhealthy diet is due to lack of time and long working hours. Secondly, the hospital cafeteria predominantly served unhealthy meals which contributes to their obesity.
In reaction to the article, I want to discuss this important term: Acceptance. Most importantly, Nurses acceptance of their health behaviors.
The one thing I want to draw your attention to from this research article is the fact that the respondents (nurses) of the study blamed everything else around them except one thing, Themselves. They forgot to accept that “they” have control over their health. The definition of health behavior is one’s attitude, beliefs and actions towards health.
Note that it is Your attitude, Your Beliefs and Your Actions.
From workload to a stressful work environment, from unhealthy meals served in hospital’s cafeteria to lack of time. The list can go on and on and on.
Do not get me wrong. As a nurse, I have experienced all the stress and heavy workload, unhealthy food in the cafeteria and so much. Despite this however, we have a responsibility in taking care of our health. We take care of our patient’s health, but what happens to the words we preach? Why don’t we practice it?
There are four words that I want to leave with you today.
Accept, Plan, Design, Implement, and be Consistent.
This is the key to redesigning a healthy lifestyle.
1. Acceptance (Who is the cause of my unhealthy lifestyle choices?)
Accept the practices that you are doing. The lack of exercise, lack of sleep, inadequate stress management and so much more. Do not only focus on the physical aspect. Focus on your social health, mental health, spiritual health as much as your physical wellbeing. Accepting allows you to compare what you have been doing, to what you ought to be doing to live a healthy lifestyle. So instead of saying, “Oh well, burgers in the cafeteria today again!” Tell yourself, “I will eat burgers but I always eat burgers. Maybe I would start to bring a fruit salad to work from the grocery store.”
2. Planning (What do I want to change? / What are my realistic goals?)
Some might argue, “A fruit salad can be expensive than a burger. My pocket is tight. I would just eat what I get.” Planning is important when trying to achieve. Set your goal. Tell yourself what you want to achieve. Maybe you used to only drink four glasses of water a day, and now you want to add two more glasses to make six. It is as simple as that. Sometimes we are intimidated by change because we want it so drastic. But think about it. Isn’t meeting a small realistic goal better than nothing?
3. Designing (How can I change?)
Designing is planning out your actions. If you want to drink more water, maybe you would need a water bottle, a phone app that reminds you that it’s time to drink your water. In diet designing, you might need to prebudget, change your grocery list, learn how to cook some healthy meals etc.
4. Implementing (Am I putting my words into actions?)
Put your words into actions. This is usually where we all fail. We start for a couple of weeks and fall back into the same habits. But here is when you hit pause, and go back to planning and designing. Maybe your transitions were too drastic, how can you redesign a change that is achievable. You would need dedication, patience and a positive attitude.
5. Consistency (How long?)
Consistency makes the difference. Do not change for a season, for a birthday or for a grand occasion. Change for you.
You can redesign your lifestyle. Accept, Plan, Design, Implement and be Consistent.
Phiri, L. P., Draper, C. E., Lambert, E. V., & Kolbe-Alexander, T. L. (2014). Nurses’ lifestyle behaviours, health priorities and barriers to living a healthy lifestyle: a qualitative descriptive study. BMC Nursing, 13(1). doi:10.1186/s12912-014-0038-6