You must have heard Erasmus’s well-known phrase, “Prevention is better than cure,” but how much do you adhere to it? People these days are so obsessed with the betterment of their lives that they undermine the importance of the most valuable aspect of their lives -their health. Alcohol, tobacco, lack of physical activity, and poor diet contribute to most preventable diseases worldwide. That is why the focus of healthcare systems has shifted more to the prevention of diseases and promotion of healthier lifestyles rather than curing the ailments.
Seventy-two years ago, nurses were merely the order-takers from doctors, delivering medicines, changing bedding, etc. Nurses today are acknowledged for their significant role in promoting healthier lifestyles. Encouragement, teaching, and receiving preventative services reinforce patients’ healthy habits to keep the disease symptoms at bay.
Nurses are the most influential force in healthcare settings, mainly due to their frequent interaction with the public than any other healthcare staff. Continue reading to see how nurses may contribute to the promotion of healthier lifestyles.
Polish your skills and knowledge
As a nurse, the most important thing on your bucket list must be changing your patient’s life for the better. But how do you do that? The best answer is to enhance your knowledge first so that your patients can reap its benefits later. With the increasing diversity in diseases, nurses require in-depth knowledge about the variation in disease symptoms and effective management techniques. You can achieve this milestone through online post master’s certificate nurse practitioner programs that provide you with the essential tools to manage ailments and promote healthy lifestyles. As a practicing nurse, you can opt for distance learning postgraduate programs. It can help you increase your professional competence as a nurse and get a competitive edge in the nursing field by improving your comprehensive knowledge in a previous area of interest or a new area of focus.
Spread health literacy
As an ambassador of wellness, you are responsible for diffusing health literacy among the people. As a nurse, promoting health literacy may seem a grueling task in a hospital setting. However, you can surmount this challenge in very simple ways. For instance, it’s the perfect time to inquire about the last tetanus booster while dressing a patient’s wound. You can discuss blood sugar testing with a patient who comes in to have a diabetic foot ulcer dressed. On a home visit to discuss neonatal care, you can inform the parents about the vaccination schedule or even discuss the developmental milestones of other siblings. In this way, you can turn every interaction with a client into health education intervention, thereby promoting health literacy.
Suggest taking healthy diets
In a hospital setting, when patients refuse to eat the patient diet and throw tantrums over it, use that opportunity to guide them about the benefits of a nutritious diet. Lifestyle-related health problems like obesity, inflated blood pressure, kidney and heart diseases are tolling public health. According to WHO, obesity which is considered more threatening than terrorism, has tripled since 1975. To minimize adverse health effects, you should advise your patients to include dietary modifications into their normal diet plan. Cutting down on processed food and taking in whole foods diet, fruits, lean meats, and vegetables can slow disease progression and ensure longevity.
Propose a healthy sleep schedule
Sleep is integral to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and well-being. It is a vital yet neglected component of a person’s health. According to the CDC, the minimum amount of sleep for children is nine hours, and for adults, it is 7 hours. Poor sleep is associated with lack of concentration, reduced productivity, increased risk of weight gain, heart problems, obesity, and many more. You can urge your patients to keep a healthy sleep pattern as they return to their daily life following discharge. And to break dangerous behaviors like sleeping like an insomniac during the week or using phones in bed, both of which negatively impact sleep quality.
Discourage smoking and alcohol abuse
Smoking and alcohol abuse are the most common risk factors for developing cancer and substance use disorders. People start to lean on substances to curb their daily life issues and soon find themselves living a topsy turvy life. A nurse’s role is to identify patients using substances either through blood tests or interviewing to create a snapshot of their life and determine substance abuse tendencies. You can help patients kick these habits by calculating the cost savings of quitting, using cessation medicines, or referring to rehab in the worst-case scenarios. Psychiatric nurses can also psycho-educate patients or suggest a therapeutic intervention to those with tendencies of developing psychological disorders to manage their symptoms timely.
Recommend stress-relieving habits
As a nurse, you are supposed to raise awareness about the silent killer-stress. Stress grossly affects the health of around 77% of adults. People are so preoccupied with minor matters these days. Due to this, their hypothalamus remains hyperactive, triggering stress reactions constantly, putting their health in jeopardy. Overactivity increases the level of stress hormones in the body, anxiety, and heart diseases. So, when you make treatment plans for patients, add up some stress-relieving exercises like deep breathing, guided imagery, etc. In addition, you can also suggest practicing meditation and mindfulness to the patients having chronic illnesses as a good step towards a healthier lifestyle.
Encourage regular exercise
Staying physically active is one of the primary things that can improve health and well-being. According to the World Health Organization, if individuals stayed physically active, 5 million deaths could be avoided each year. Staying active helps you stay physically fit and reduces the risk of various physiological and psychological disorders like depression, anxiety, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. While advising, your patients might respond by saying that they walk while going to the office. It would help correct their misconception that walking alone can’t help, and they need to work out. Physical activity is one of the most crucial steps towards a healthy lifestyle. You can also provide them with devices like pedometers to reinforce their physical activity.
Nurses play the role of catalysts in promoting healthier lifestyles among people in a community. They are reliable and trustworthy professionals that the people respect and follow. A nurse’s guidance can make a difference in people’s lives by incorporating healthy habits into their unhealthy lifestyles. Gaining insight into every patient’s needs and goals can help you provide individualized care and suggest lifestyle changes like taking healthy diets, sleeping sufficiently, kicking substance abuse, exercising, etc., specific to each patient’s treatment and lifestyle goals.