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Health & Wellbeing

Working as a HCA can at times be stressful, it can be challenging to meet the needs of your patients and fulfil all your work obligations. Combine this with a busy family and/or home life and it is easy to see how stress can affect your wellbeing. It is important that you take time out for you, try to exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet- this will help protect both your mental and physical health.

Resources

Psychology Matters: Try these tips which can be incorporated into your daily routine or drawn upon when times get tough. The Psychological Society of Ireland’s 40 practical tips for mental health, well being and prosperity: Click here.

Mindfulness and Relaxation

Research shows it can be beneficial to our health and wellbeing to relax and reflect mindfully. Beaumont hospital’s psychology department have developed a meditation and relaxation centre. This centre provides wonderful resources for mindfulness, meditation and relaxation that can be accessed online. These resources can also be downloaded to your media player so you can access them anywhere: www.beaumont.ie/marc

The HSE website www.yourmentalhealth.ie  also provides of suitable resources and contacts that you may find useful for yourself, family member or friend.

Shift Work and Health

The health risks for shift workers and night workers are well known- working outside the normal nine to five routine is known to affect our circadian rhythm (internal body clock), which influences our metabolism, hormonal balance, digestion, immune system, and cardiovascular system. Shift work/ night work is also linked with obesity, depression and mood disorders, meaning that is important for shift workers to recognise the need to manage their health effectively. However this can be challenging, the long hours might mean you might not be inclined to go for that walk or swim before work, and you might also be more likely to reach for fatty, high calorie convenient foods such as takeaways or eat the chocolates left at the nurses’ station during your shift!

The health and safety authority www.hsa.ie  recommend that you manage your health while working shifts by following these simple guidelines:

Exercise:

  • Exercise before your shift starts
  • Try to do some exercises during your break while on shift- maybe a quick walk

Sleep:

  • Take a nap before your first night shift- (ideally between 1-4 hours)
  • Keep to a regular sleeping pattern where possible
  • After your last night shift, have a short sleep then go to bed early that night

Diet:

  • Have your largest meal after your day time sleep, before starting the night shift
  • Only have a light meal in the middle of your night shift; choose small portions
  • Only drink caffeinated products before or early during your shift
  • Avoid alcohol and smoking before going to bed
  • Avoid fatty foods completely during your shift
  • Eat balanced and regular meals

And finally:

  • Where possible, do the lightest tasks between 4-6 am, obviously this will depend on the needs of the patients on your ward.
  • If possible take short breaks during your shift- again depending on the needs of your ward