Self-Care for Nurses with Ayurveda

balance-2As we all know, working long shifts as a nurse can cause primary imbalances in our body, such as unhealthy food cravings, digestive problems, fatigue, irritability, lack of motivation to exercise and difficulty sleeping. Trying to work on these common imbalances can be an ongoing struggle, and having the ability to keep even one or two of these ailments from affecting us week-after-week can be a tiring challenge. This article gives an introduction to Ayurveda and how it can help make your job as a nurse much easier, with more energy and help you to provide better patient care.

Of all the years of research I’ve done on how our bodies work and how to stay healthy, Ayurveda is definitely the most powerful, yet simplest way to be truly healthy. Based on a system of complete healing from ancient India, Ayurveda has been in practice for nearly 5,000 years and is used in several modern cultures. The term “Ayurveda”, meaning “the science of life,” originates from the ancient Sanskrit language (Sanskrit): आयुर्वेद. Ayurveda (also considered to be the sister science of yoga) is a simple, preventive approach to health, yet an immense toolkit of natural ways to stay healthy and full of energy using a simple, preventive approach to daily health maintenance as well as chronic conditions. As a nurse, Ayurveda can help you assess your own constitution (or prakriti), plan and implement a simple routine that supports your constitution and evaluate and release anything that blocks you from feeling better overall and having more energy.

Even if you already have a healthy eating and exercise routine, Ayurveda can help you enhance your health and energy even further by recognizing that our own constitution (prakriti) is composed of three general categories (doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha) which are combinations of all five of the natural elements in our environment: air, earth, fire, space and water. By understanding your predominant prakriti you can recognize your natural tendencies (dosha) and easily balance food, exercise, daily routines and your environment to blend in with the basic laws of nature, to optimize your day at work.

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Here is a brief outline to understand your dosha and make your job as a nurse easier-

 ayerveda

VATA

light body frame, dry/cool skin, visible veins and joints, changing routine, variable digestion, anxious/nervous

AIR/SPACE

PITTA

medium body frame, muscular, warm skin, rapid routine, strong digestion, motivated, fiery

FIRE/WATER

KAPHA

large body frame, smooth, warm, thick oily skin, grounded routine, slow digestion, calm

WATER/EARTH

BALANCE YOUR DOSHA WITH THE OPPOSITE OF YOUR PRAKUTI keep warm, have a consistent daily routine, eat warm/oily/cooked foods: root vegetables, hearty soups, use coconut or sesame oils keep cool, allow relaxation, eat regular meals with raw/ cooling foods: raw fruit and vegetables, high protein keep an airy environment, allow change, eat light, low-fat, dry foods: Asian or Latino rice, beans
YOUR BEST ENERGY LEVEL TIME IS: early morning mid day mid-day/evening
AVOID: noisy, chaotic workplace, night shift slow-paced, quiet workplace with inefficient systems day shift in a quiet, boring atmosphere

 

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To give you an example of how to figure out how to make this science of life work for you and make your job as a nurse easier, here is my own dosha outline and how I use it to balance my job as a nurse.

I  am a “Vata Nurse”…I have a thin build, with visible joints and veins, I like constant change and have a hard time sticking to a routine.  I am sensitive to cold, noise, and crowded places. I am very creative and my mind is going all the time. My best time to focus on work or anything, is in the early morning and late afternoon. My digestion is variable due to my unsettled behavior, thoughts and movements. I find that foods that make me feel better and give me more energy and are easy to digest (this is hugely important and actually uses a tremendous amount of your body’s resources) are warm soups with root vegetables and basmati rice, mung beans or quinoa. (More on these power foods in my next article). So, the work environment that works best for me as a Vata, is the day shift, in a quiet, well organized setting such as an assisted living facility.

If you are a “Pitta Nurse”– a fast-paced environment in the day or evening shift where you can use your skills and energy may be a good atmosphere for you. Cooling, raw fruit and vegetables can help cool your fire.

If you are a “Kapha Nurse”– a moderate-paced environment with a changing evening/night schedule may be best for you. Light, dry foods are soothing.

baked-healthy-fitness-broccoli-pie-with-basil-picjumbo-com-copyNo matter what dosha you are, you can also try doing this simple 2-minute routine every day when you wake up to start balancing your body now, until you can further learn the ways of Ayurveda to make your job even easier as a nurse. Ayurveda is all about simple prevention!  When waking up, gently massage face, chest and arms, fully stretch and deep breathe, while focusing on the positive outcomes you want for the day. This simple, daily routine really helps to bring immediate balance to your body, mind, and awareness, as well as help with better digestion and mental clarity.

Also, try to time your meal break so you can eat your food peacefully. I know what many of you are thinking right now as you read this…..and this needs to change!

Here is a jar of nourishing Kitchari (a 2 grain Ayurvedic mixture) with a Sattva Mat. (Sattva: the element of purity, wholesomeness, and virtue). The Sattva Mat helps to create a peaceful place (where ever you are) to eat for better digestion and enjoyment.

Nurses deserve to eat an enjoyable meal in peace!

Ayurveda has offered very effective results for me and my family; it can be such a benefit to nurses too.

A good resource to take an online dosha quiz is found at www.banyanbotanicals.com/constitutions

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Heather-Ann Boucher

I'm Heather-Anne, a Registered Nurse and Holistic Health Practitioner, also with a Master of Science degree in business management. I have worked in healthcare for the past 25 years caring for patients of all ages with many chronic health problems and in a variety of clinical settings. For the past 10 years I have been researching holistic and complimentary therapies; blending them into my practice and starting my own online collection of proactive health strategies found at www.heartsofayurveda.com

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