If there was to be one positive from the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s that the wellbeing of nurses was finally given the opportunity to receive the rightful attention it deserves. For too long now, nurses within the UK have been relied upon as the back pillar to all societal issues and the fallback ‘get-out-clause’ for all that has gone wrong.
This pressure and responsibility is only intensifying as public systems and structures collapse. The cost of living has never been higher, the population is growing older, social housing is being inadequately addressed and climate change is causing unpredictable weather patterns. The NHS is operating above capacity and it’s our nurses who are expected to be a final saviour and carry the burden of looking after us all.
Whilst we may not be able to change the UK Healthcare system overnight, Nutrix Personnel are passionate about promoting the importance of mental wellbeing to our nurses. It’s why we’ve put together a series of guides on how best to look after your mental health and be better prepared for tackling everything that is thrown your way.
In short, an individual’s wellbeing is how positive they feel about life, themselves, and their physical and mental state. As a nurse it’s incredibly important to be aware of your own wellbeing, especially when dealing with emotionally unstable patients on a regular basis. It is, however, a term that has no single definition and is more easily defined by being broken down into its various aspects:
This is arguably the most visible form of wellbeing and resolves around the ability to maintain a healthy quality of life and accomplish many of our daily activities without unnecessary fatigue or physical stress. A research study undertaken between 2008 and 2012 (BMJ Open) however found that 25.1% of nurses were classified as ‘obese’ which compared to only 14.4% amongst other healthcare professionals.
This is a worrying statistic but one that can be easily decreased with regular exercise and a balanced diet. For most nurses though, it can be difficult to find the time and energy to exercise after a busy working day and eating a proper meal is not always a possibility. Instead, habits such as snacking on unhealthy foods are easy to adopt which can have a detrimental effect to one’s overall physical well-being. For advice on how to balance a busy work life with maintaining a good physical wellbeing, read our ’Staying Active as an Agency Nurse’ guide!
The International Rescue Committee describes economic wellbeing as “the means in which people have their most basic survival needs met and have sustainable income and assets so they can prosper”. (IRC) It’s virtually impossible to sustain mental well-being without a roof over your head and the comfort of knowing your bills will be paid on time.
Unlike those permanently employed within the UK public healthcare domain, agency nurses do not receive a structured monthly salary. Whether you’re paid under a PAYE or Umbrella system, your monthly income can fluctuate and so it’s important to remain diligent with your finances.
Unlike both physical and economic wellbeing, an individual’s ‘emotional’ status can be hidden and may alter more regularly than other aspects of wellbeing. Defined as “the ability to successfully handle life’s stresses and adapt to change in difficult times”, emotional wellbeing isn’t something that can be fixed overnight but rather worked upon continuously through several easy methods.
Most nurses witness traumatic and distressing situations daily and this can make them vulnerable to high levels of stress and emotional trauma. A recent survey indicated that nurses who work in A&E are the most effected with 39% of staff reporting they have suffered in the past. The industry is, however, looking into ways to support its nurses and Nutrix Personnel have compiled “A Checklist to Improving your Emotional Wellbeing”.
Building meaningful relationships with others and communicating effectively with friends or family is a key life skill and it’s exactly what social wellbeing resolves around. It’s important to feel free in your own skin and working as an agency nurse often involves communicating with colleagues and more importantly, the relatives of suffering patients.
Possessing a healthy level of social connections can have a beneficial impact upon your heart rate, blood pressure and stress hormones. Daily conversations also reduce the risk of developing conditions like dementia and it’s a key way to strengthen your emotional wellbeing. Living a happy and purposeful life depends upon your social wellbeing so if you’re struggling to maintain social connections or feel alone, start by reaching out to close connections in a safe way or perhaps join a new community, whether physical or virtual.
If you’re still having difficulties or just have further questions on social wellbeing, speak to a mental health professional and they can advise you on the appropriate steps.
Agency nurses tackle emotional adversity frequently and the stresses that they face can have a detrimental effect upon their psychological wellbeing. If not addressed, it may result further in mental distress and potentially their overall working performance and professional relationships. According to a new survey by Nursing Times, 90% of nurses felt more stressed or anxious during the Covid-19 pandemic and the staff shortages since have meant the situation hasn’t improved.
Looking after your psychological wellbeing will aid you in living a happier and longer life. Research indicates that those with high psychological well-being are typically less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol and engage in criminal activity. Nutrix Personnel are determined to help our nurses improve their psychological well-being and have put together a helpful guide in doing so.
How is Nutrix Personnel promoting and actioning on wellbeing?
Since the foundation of Nutrix Personnel, we’ve been dedicated to looking after the wellbeing of our nurses and ensuring they have the appropriate resources available to tackle any issues they may face. Through a series of helpful guides and informative articles, we’re hoping to educate our nurses on the importance of wellbeing and make a real difference to their personal and professional lives.
To read the next article in this series of blogs on wellbeing, click here or alternatively return to our News & Blog page.