Reboot and Recharge for Your Health


Technology rules our daily lives. We use our telephones and computers to do work, converse, send text messages, play games, watch videos, and Web surf.

Technology rules our daily lives. We use our telephones and computers to do work, converse, send text messages, play games, watch videos, and Web surf. Most of us could scarcely go a day without being connected. To prevent any lapses between us and the cyber world, we are meticulous about keeping our devices functioning optimally. We plug our telephones, laptops, and other devices into wall outlets to recharge them and update our software and anti-viral applications on a regular basis. This attentiveness in maintaining our electrical devices begs the question: do we care for ourselves as well as we care for our devices? In many cases, oncology nurses are so busy tending to their patients, families, and other obligations that the answer is probably “no.” However, taking the time to apply the same principles that keep our devices functioning smoothly to our own lives can ensure our optimal performance.

Recharge your batteries

We have plug-in cords to charge our phones in our cars and at our desks to avoid a low or dead battery. Think about ways to recharge your battery each day. Taking the time to enjoy some simple pleasures may provide the boost necessary to keep you going. Try taking a walk at lunchtime, talking to a friend, reading for pleasure, savoring a piece of fresh fruit, or taking a 10-minute nap. Any activity that brings happiness and peace can restore energy levels.

Update your anti-viral software

Flu season is still active; thus, it is imperative to remain vigilant in protecting yourself from influenza or other viruses. Keep your immune system healthy by using a three-pronged approach: 1) eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables; 2) engage in regular, moderate exercise; and 3) try to be an optimist. The Cancer Project suggests eating from the nutrition rainbow. More natural colors in your meal increases the likelihood that you are receiving cancer-fighting nutrients. For example, blue foods, such as blueberries, purple grapes, and plums contain anthocyanins, which give these foods their pigment and have been found to destroy free radicals. Studies have shown that engaging in moderate, daily physical activity also helps boost the immune system; long, intense exercise sessions may have the opposite effect by suppressing immunity. In addition to protecting against viruses, moderate physical activity reduces stress and helps prevent chronic and life-threatening diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Maintaining a positive outlook is another way to boost immunity. A recent study led by Suzanne Segerstrom, PhD, at the University of Kentucky, found that individuals who were pessimistic had a more difficult time fighting off viruses. Using humor in appropriate situations may be a good way to help patients cope while giving your immune system a boost.

Avoid running too many programs simultaneously

In addition to employment responsibilities, family, social, and community demands can easily consume our waking hours. Set priorities and engage in activities that resonate with your life’s mission. When you outgrow an organization or social group, realize it is acceptable to bow out gracefully. Your time is precious, and there are many ways to serve and contribute to your community and family.

Choose to “delete,” “escape,” or “pause”

Allow yourself the opportunity to take a time out. Many of us always volunteer to help, or are called upon to help, but we can choose to say no or limit our involvement. This approach helps our mental and physical health by avoiding overcommitment and subsequent burnout. Also, be sure to hit the “pause” button when feeling overheated or overworked by taking 10 minutes or so to linger in a warm bath, enjoy the sunset, listen to music, stretch, meditate, or drink a soothing cup of tea. Oncology nursing is a high-stress environment where much can go wrong. Taking the time to reboot and recharge your battery throughout the day and remembering to turn every- thing off at the end of the day will keep you at the top of your game, which benefits you and your patients.

Lisa Marie Bernardo, PhD, MPH, RN, HFS, is an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing. She is an ACSM-certified Health Fitness Specialist, an ACSM/ACS Cancer Exercise Trainer, and an ACSM-licensed Wellness Coach.

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