Caring for Carers – Nurses, this one’s for you!

I’ve been a nurse for the past 14 years and in that time, I’ve worked alongside some of the hardest working, caring and compassionate people I know. People who day in and day out give everything of themselves to their patients often leaving nothing for themselves. Nurses are (rightly or wrongly) trained/expected to put others needs above their own- whether that be not taking their break because a patient needed something, leaving work late so they don’t leave work undone for the next shift or not going to the toilet for twelve hours because there just wasn’t time – which means that they’re often not very good at putting themselves first or allowing others to care for them.

Nurses are at a higher risk for a number of different health concerns most commonly musculoskeletal conditions, obesity and mental health concerns. This comes as no surprise to me- nursing is a physical job, we’re on our feet for up to 12 hours a day, bending, kneeling on the floor and having to move patients that are unable to move themselves. Nursing and shift work lends itself to living an unhealthier life than we would otherwise like to- it encourages a poor diet of unhealthy food often eaten on the run, little time or energy for exercise, insufficient and poor quality sleep, social isolation, poor work/life balance and high stress levels.

Nurses work lives are increasingly stressful- patients are sicker, hospitals are under stress financially and nurses are having to find ways to juggle patient care with all of their other assigned tasks and that doesn’t even take into account the emotional stress of caring for critically ill patients and their family members. There is also the pressure we feel when we’re unwell to still show up to work because we’re aware of the stress our absence puts on our colleagues.

Something else I’ve noticed is that as nurses we can start to have a skewed view of health and wellness. We see such sick people every day that we have a tendency to down play our own health concerns. It really took me studying Naturopathy to change my thinking around this. You don’t have to be critically unwell before you see a health professional for help. Our bodies are very good at giving us little signs when we start to get out of balance and if we don’t listen to this then our body gets louder and louder with more serious signs and symptoms until we have no choice but to do something about it.

Unfortunately, the longer we ignore the messages our body is giving us, the more serious and insidious our health problems become and the harder they get to treat or reverse. Working with nurses and other care givers is something I love to do because I truly understand the difficulties our work presents and I’ve been there- there was a time I didn’t prioritise my own health and wellbeing and paid the price!

If you feel like it’s time to put your health first come and see me at ReMed- you can book online at or call 1300 163 773. If you’re not sure about Naturopathy and want to know more you can come in for a 20 minute free consultation to chat about any health concerns and how Naturopathy can help you. Skype and phone appointments also available.

Photo by Sage Kirk on Unsplash