Career advice

Coping with winter: tips for staying fit and healthy

Winter is one of the busiest times for nurses, and maintaining a good work-life balance can be tricky. Follow these tips from health coach Mandy Day-Calder to ensure you stay as healthy as possible over the winter months.

Winter is one of the busiest times for nurses, and maintaining a good work-life balance can be tricky. Follow these tips from health coach Mandy Day-Calder to ensure you stay as healthy as possible over the winter months


Picture: iStock

Whether you are longing for your bed in the middle of a busy night shift, or leaving the ward after another 12-hour day, front-line nursing is not for those who want regular hours.

Although shift work offers advantages, such as days off during the week and extended annual leave, maintaining a work-life balance in the depths of winter can seem like a contradiction.

Busier time

Unlike many organisations, the NHS doesn’t ‘wind down’ for the festive period. In fact, healthcare staff are often busier during this time, and have to cope with limited resources.

Staying as healthy as possible is vital over the winter months. Here are simple but effective ways to look after yourself until the spring flowers brighten your spirits once more.

  • Follow the sunshine: winter can be a dark time, both literally and metaphorically, so make sure you get outside and enjoy some sun on your days off. Household chores can wait.
  • Raise your endorphins: try to schedule some physical activity into your week – even a few brisk walks can make a difference to your fitness levels and mood. If you don’t want to exercise in the dark, speak to your local gym to see if you can join without committing to a year’s contract.
  • Bust those bugs: hot, stuffy environments like hospital wards are ideal for passing on germs. Minimise the risk of getting ill by being extra vigilant with infection control, and consider the flu jab if you haven’t had it already.
  • Plan your meals: Try to stock your fridge with healthy options, and increase your intake of winter ‘super foods’ such as broccoli, sweet potatoes and porridge. Spices such as ginger, turmeric, garlic and cinnamon are known to have immune-boosting properties. If you don’t have time for extensive meal planning, think about investing in a smoothie or juice maker to ensure you get your daily dose of fresh vitamins and nutrients.
  • Curb your cravings: As tempting as it is to feast on carb-rich comfort snacks, these will only add to any sluggishness you are feeling. Try to maintain a balanced diet, and include foods that are rich in much-needed vitamin D, such as milk, eggs and fatty fish.
  • Don’t forget to rest: It can be tempting to burn the candle at both ends during the festive season, but without sufficient restorative sleep your body won’t get the chance to fully recover.
  • Keep warm: You will likely be travelling into work in freezing conditions, only to be hit by the heat of the wards. So layer up, keep cosy and remember spring is just around the corner.

Mandy Day-Calder is a freelance writer and health/life coach

This article is for subscribers only

Jobs