Healthcare workers are susceptible to illnesses circulating through healthcare facilities. In fact, during an outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in Toronto, 43% of the cases were found in healthcare workers. In addition to the risks of working among sick patients, healthcare workers are often overworked and stressed out—sometimes resulting in chronic health problems.
As we continue to learn about how health is interconnected, integrated care is becoming more and more common in healthcare—and for good reason. Integrated care is simply looking at healthcare from a patient-centric point of view and looking at all the factors affecting their health and well-being.
This often means bringing in different healthcare specialists to work together and come up with a treatment plan that works for the individual. This approach is proving to be very effective for patients with concerns ranging from substance abuse to cancer.
If you work in the healthcare industry, it’s worth thinking about integrative care for more than just patients—it can be beneficial in helping you to stay healthy while working long hours in a hospital or other facility.
The good news? It’s never been easier to stay healthy! It’s all about thinking about how different aspects of your life affect your overall health and well-being.
Here are four ways you can integrate healthy habits into your life to help you provide better care and life a healthier life.
It’s easy to forget to drink water when you’re busy all day (and often all night!) but if you’re rushing around a hospital, you need to be aware of your hydration levels even more than someone who works at a desk. Set alarms on your phone and get a water bottle you’ll enjoy using. Something as simple as switching from a plastic bottle to a metal one can help. Some bottles can keep water cold for hours, while others allow you to infuse fruit or other natural flavors into your water.
Feed Your Body Well
The key to feeding your body well when you work in healthcare is to plan ahead. Do big batch meal prep, invest in an insulated lunch bag, and have easy-to-grab healthy snacks you can take into work. Avoiding sugar and processed foods will help avoid digestive problems, give you more energy, and even boost your immune system. You need to stay healthy on the job, and feeding your body properly is the first step!
Have a Positive Mindset and Attitude
Although it can be difficult on a tough day to have a positive mindset and attitude, coming into work every day with optimism can help improve your mood and well-being. In one study of learned optimism, the control group developed moderate to severe depression at a rate of 32%, while the experimental group that had practiced learned optimism had a rate of 22%.
Anxiety rates were lowered as well—15% of the control group had anxiety after the 18 month period as compared to 7% of the experimental group. While having a positive mindset and focusing on feeling good internally won’t always be the perfect solution, it can help you feel better at work. Though it may feel silly at first, affirmations are a great way to start developing a more positive mindset.
Keep Stress to a Minimum
More than 26% of American adults struggle with depression. Mental health is a growing concern, and everyone working in healthcare should take care to meet their mental needs with self-care and stress-busting techniques. Stress and poor health can impact mental well-being, which is why it’s so important to keep stress to a minimum whenever possible.
Exercising regularly, practicing yoga or meditation, and taking time to relax can really help you feel better on the job. Even if you only have five minutes, ducking into a quiet room for a few minutes of meditation can help you stabilize your mood
Put Your Health First
Integrated care may be the biggest breakthrough in healthcare we’ve seen in years, but we can’t just use that approach once someone is sick. We need to implement these healthy habits as a preventative measure. Understanding how mental and physical health are interconnected can help you understand your patients better and take care of themselves simultaneously. Using strategies like the ones outlined above can help you avoid becoming a patient yourself—and allow you to take care of those under your care more effectively.