If there is one profession that stands to benefit the most from practicing self-care, it’s anything related to clinical healthcare. Nurses, physician assistants, EMS workers and similar professions that provide direct medical care to patients are notoriously draining, which is evident by the nationwide problem of high turnover rates within the healthcare industry.
Although everyone in the healthcare field could use a little “me time,” male healthcare workers in particular often need an extra nudge to start caring for themselves. Generally speaking, guys are infamous for putting their own needs last, which inevitably leads to frustration and burnout at work.
If you’re a male healthcare professional, it’s time for you to step up your self-care game and start supercharging your health. While it may seem strange to put your needs above others for a change, these six self-care tips can help improve your life for the better.
Find an Outlet For Your Emotions
One major contributing factor to the high turnover rate in the healthcare industry is the emotional labor that comes with the job. Healthcare professionals, such as EMS workers, often find themselves in life-and-death situations on a daily basis, which eventually takes its toll.
If you’re a male nurse or an EMS worker, you’ve probably seen some crazy things on the job. You need an outlet for all those emotions, whether it’s physical, creative or otherwise.
To give you an idea of an effective emotional outlet, research has found that mindfulness meditation can be particularly beneficial for healthcare workers. In a 2018 study published in Nurse Education Today, scientists found that mindfulness meditation was an effective strategy for preventing stress and burnout in nurses and nursing students.
Other strategies might include exercise (a well-known stress reliever), painting or even just talking with a therapist. Find what works for you and make it a habit to let your emotions out on a regular basis.
Follow A Simple Skin Care Regimen
When you’re working insanely long shifts, sticking to a skin care routine can be extremely challenging. That being said, you’ve probably seen the consequences of forgoing skin health firsthand and know the importance of proper skincare.
Whether you’re trying to reduce your risk of skin cancer or fight signs of aging, getting on a regular skincare routine can do wonders for your skin health. To accommodate your busy (and often changing) schedule, you may want to consider signing up for a simple skincare subscription.
Each month, the basic products you need for optimal skin health will be sent straight to your door. This way, you’ll have a much easier time turning your newfound skincare routine into a regular self-care habit.
Schedule a Regular Massage
As a healthcare worker, you’re probably no stranger to lifting patients, moving beds and standing on your feet for hours on end. Why not relax your tired muscles with a regular massage session?
Getting a massage can stimulate blood flow throughout the body while reducing muscle stiffness and tension. You can also have your massage therapist focus on a specific area (like your back or feet) to get the most out of your session.
Massage therapy has other positive effects on healthcare workers as well. According to a 2004 study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience, massage therapy can decrease cortisol—the body’s primary stress hormone. After just one massage, you’ll be feeling much more relaxed and be itching to schedule your next session.
Establish a Bedtime Routine
You know that you need sleep to perform the next day at work. Unfortunately, sleep can be hard to come by when you’re stressed out and working a rotating shift that varies from week to week.
To promote a good night’s sleep, try to do the same things each night before you go to bed. This includes brushing your teeth, washing your face, applying your bedtime moisturizer and—most importantly—putting away your digital devices.
Cell phones, tablets, and other light-emitting devices are sneakily wreaking havoc on your sleep quality. Put them face down, away from your bed and give yourself at least 30 minutes to wind down for bed.
Schedule Regular Time Off
If you’re reluctant to take time off from work, you aren’t alone. American workers are notorious for not taking vacation days and working until they burn out from sheer exhaustion.
Taking a vacation—even if you have nowhere to go—can do wonders for your mental and physical well-being. According to a 2000 study published in Occupational Medicine, subjects who took a vacation had better sleep quality, improved mood and had less physical complaints.
A regular vacation (or staycation, if that’s your preference) can help you recharge and come back to work feeling rejuvenated and more productive. Don’t wait until you need a vacation to get it in the books: Schedule it now so that you have something to work towards.
Find a Fitness Routine You Enjoy
After a 10- or 12-hour shift, the last thing you probably want to do is exercise. If your workout is boring, you’re even less likely to do it after a long shift.
To make fitness a long-term habit, find a routine that works for you and do it when you’re feeling the most energetic. If you have the most motivation around noon, squeeze in your workout on your lunch break.
“Your diet also plays an important role in maintaining your fitness levels, particularly protein if you want to gain muscle. If you’re short on time, use a supplement like whey protein. This guide here is a useful starting point.”
Experiment with different workouts and find a routine that works best for you. For example, if lifting weights isn’t your thing, find an exercise that incorporates resistance training into your workout. The more engaged you are in your fitness regimen, the more likely you’ll be to stick with it.
Overcoming the Stigma
When you’re working in a stressful industry like healthcare, there is no question that you need regular self-care to maintain your health and well-being. The daily stressors and challenges that healthcare workers face can take their toll on the body and mind.
As a male healthcare worker in a traditionally “effeminate” role, you may be reluctant to practice self-care. However, just remember that there is no shame in taking time to improve yourself mentally and physically. By following these self-care tips, you can effectively reduce your stress, maintain optimal health and be a better healthcare professional for your patients as a result.