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Are you looking after yourself too?

Date:
By  Sara Carter

Are You Looking After Yourself Too?

By Sara Carter, ACNP Marketing & Communications Manager

 

Thank you and congratulations for downloading the ACNP Member App and checking out our first ACNP member blog.  The purpose behind the blog is to provide an opportunity for members to write an opinion piece that can create discussion, ideas, and even inspiration amongst our community. 

 

Over the coming months we would like to invite all our members to write and submit a blog to be published on the App.  Every fortnight/month we plan to publish a new blog to the App that may have a clinical view, be thought provoking, discuss an initiative, or address topics that you wish to raise within our community.  Please keep in mind that even a blog, an opinion piece, can still appear in the wider community, so remember to not write anything that you are not happy for everyone to see!  It’s time now to get moving on the blog for this month ‘Are you looking after yourself too?’

I would firstly like to mention, I am not medically trained, thus my blog comes from a personal position.  For the greater part of my career I have worked with the nursing community, I am from a nursing family, and I appreciate how strong, determined, and independent many of you are.  These are qualities that I personally admire. 

 

I know from my observation over many years that it is natural for you to put others first, to ‘get on with what has to be done’, and for you to naturally care about the wellbeing of others, nonetheless I am writing this blog for you.  I want you to take a moment, check in and ask, ‘are you looking after yourself too?’

 

We all like to think that we are ticking the boxes, however for the most part, we are all guilty of not getting enough exercise, not eating correctly or not getting enough sleep. Once you throw the pandemic into the mix, the increased workload and demands on your time generally mean these are the first to plummet.   

Your mental health is top of mind for the team at the ACNP.  I understand that within our community we have many Nurse Practitioners that specialise in mental health and I invite you to submit a blog on this important topic in the very near future.  For now, I am going to do what I can and remind you all how important it is to look after your mental health and wellbeing, particularly throughout this extraordinary time. 

 

The mental health benefits of exercise are well documented.  “Regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD, and more. It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts your overall mood. And you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to reap the benefits. Research indicates that modest amounts of exercise can make a difference. No matter your age or fitness level, you can learn to use exercise as a powerful tool to feel better.” [1]

 

With limited time for exercise currently in some states throughout Australia, exercise does not have to be long or exhausting.  “As well as releasing endorphins in the brain, physical activity helps to relax the muscles and relieve tension in the body. Since the body and mind are so closely linked, when your body feels better so, too, will your mind.” [2]

If you are wanting to start an exercise routine, according to Beyond Blue [3] the six tips to get you started are: 

  1. Find your reason
  2. Start small 
  3. Make it part of your routine
  4. Do something you enjoy
  5. Set goals and monitor progress 
  6. Make a commitment to others

Walking

To assist those wanting to get started, I have listed some exercise sites that you might like to investigate.  Take a moment and see what works for you.      

 

There is also a large amount of research that exists and supports how healthy eating is also important to your mental health. “The WHO has long said that there is no health without mental health.” [4] Plus, you understand too well how poor eating habits lead to increased risk factors for heart disease in Australia. [5]

 

A healthy diet and one that is good for you and your heart, recommended by the Heart Foundation suggests:   

  • Eat plenty of vegetables, fruit, and wholegrains
  • Include a variety of health protein–rich foods. The best options are plant-based proteins like beans, chickpeas, lentils, nuts, and seeds, as well as fish and seafood. These foods have been shown to reduce your risk of developing heart disease
  • Choose unflavoured milk, yoghurt, and cheese
  • Include healthy fats and oils for example avocados, olives, nuts, seeds, and healthy oils for cooking such as olive, canola, sunflower and peanut oil
  • Use herbs and spices to flavour foods instead of salt.

HealthyFood

 

A favourite cookbook of mine is from the Heart Foundation.  During my childhood, my father had Type 2 diabetes and the Heart Foundation cookbook was a ‘go to’ for recipes that assisted with managing his diabetes.  This much-loved cookbook still provides my family today with delicious, good for your health and heart recipes. 

The Heart Foundation website has many motivating articles along with a new eBook for recipes that use only 5 ingredients, saving you on time, money, and your heart health.  The book is available for download via their website at  https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/

 

Finally, this blog on checking to see if ‘you are looking after yourself too’ would not be complete if I failed to mention sleep. “Sleep is also an important time for processing information we have accumulated across the day; and inadequate or poor sleep can have a direct impact on mental health effecting depression, anxiety and emotional instability.  A good night sleep can improve mental health, general wellbeing, and boost workplace productivity. [6]

Tired

There are few tips that you may like to try if you wish to improve your sleep including:

· Keep in sync with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle – in other words keep a regular sleep-wake schedule

· Control your exposure to light

· Exercise during the day

· Be smart about what you eat and drink

· Wind down and clear your head

· Eliminate or limit screen time before bed

· Improve your sleep environment - keep noise down and keep your room cooler

· Learn ways to get back to sleep

To read more about these important tips head to https://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/getting-better-sleep.htm

Remember to be kind to yourself and take time to look after yourself too!  Identify small ways, or changes that you can make that will help you to focus on your mental health and wellbeing.  

 

If you would like to contribute to a ACNP Member blog please email me at sara.carter@acnp.org.au

 

References:

[1] https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/the-mental-health-benefits-of-exercise.htm

[2] https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/the-mental-health-benefits-of-exercise.htm

[3] https://www.beyondblue.org.au/personal-best/pillar/supporting-yourself/exercise-your-way-to-good-mental-health

[4] https://foodandmoodcentre.com.au/2016/07/diet-and-mental-health/

[5] www.heartfoundation.org.au

[6] https://www.neura.edu.au/news/sleep-got-mental-health-everything/

[7] https://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/getting-better-sleep.htm

 

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