Nurses are accustomed to caring for other people, but their own health is often put on the back burner. As they work long, demanding hours in a stressful job, they may take little time for their own fitness, nutrition and other needs.
The current nursing shortage can also contribute to their stress and health issues, as a shortage of registered nurses in the United States is expected to last until 2030. Georgia is one of the states hit the hardest by this shortage.
All this can contribute to stress, which respondents to an American Nurses Association survey identified as their top risk in their work environment. Over 80 percent of respondents said they were at a significant stress level, compared with an average of only 36 percent of employees in other workplaces. Many also cited fatigue and said they often have to work through their breaks, arrive early or late and assume a higher workload than they're comfortable with.
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In an effort to help, some employers are prioritizing worksite wellness programs, which can yield many benefits for nurses as well as the organizations they work for. They're also a way to make nurses more satisfied and increase employee retention, according to American Nurse Today. Wellness activities can reduce chronic disease and healthcare costs, raise productivity and improve patient satisfaction and outcomes.
The following are some fun wellness activities employers and managers should consider for their nurses:
- Start a walking challenge — One employer, Northwell Health, started an eight-week challenge called "Walk the Wonders." Participants took a virtual trip to all the Wonders of the World. As each new destination was "unlocked," recipes, videos and other information was provided. After the challenge, 27 percent of participants had lost weight, 71 percent thought it helped them reduce stress and 68 percent reported having more energy.
- Intervene to fight stress and burnout — The Cleveland Clinic implemented "Code Lavender," which addresses severe stress and burnout. Holistic care nurses are provided to help nurses and doctors through Reiki healing, massage, healthy snacks and water.
- Compile an employee cookbook — Contribute healthy recipes (perhaps with input from your dietitians or chefs) and compile them into a pdf that everyone can share.
- Take part in a community event — As a team or individuals, join a community event such as a local healthy heart walk, dance-a-thon or other fun, healthy activity.
- Reward employees for taking simple steps — A New Jersey health care system started a program called "It's Your Move," which rewards employees for obtaining their biometric data, completing an online health risk assessment and seeing their doctor as least once a year. Health coaching was offered to help manage results that were a source of concern.
- Start a gratitude challenge — Launch a 21-day gratitude challenge by asking nurses to write down three things that they are grateful for each day for three weeks.
- Offer on-site classes — Offer convenient classes and provide the time to take them. These can include topics such as how to sleep better, preparing healthy meals and how to safely lift and move patients.