The work we CNA’s do is HARD; some say brutal. The stress we put upon ourselves while performing our duties takes a high toll on our bodies. We have to take care of ourselves. And I mean that- especially at work.
Some of the things I do to make sure I’m ready and physically able to do my job are pretty mainstream, or so I thought. Lately I’ve noticed newer aides not bothering to do simple things that can make such a difference.
1) The usual items we hear about are par for the course: Eat right, exercise and get plenty of sleep! Easier said than done in today’s busy world. Family, friends, commitments, kids’ games and activities all keep us, at times, TOO busy to care for ourselves.
2) We use our legs, arms and backs for the vast majority of the tasks we perform. It makes sense to stretch these muscles before we use them. Before I go to work, each shift, I do some simple little stretch exercises that really have helped me stay limber, and I believe they help me perform the lifts and other harsh aspects of this work without pain, and without injury. Please seek your doctor’s opinion before attempting these. The links take you to a site that illustrates how to do the stretches.
3) One thing I always have on my person is my own GAIT BELT. I don’t use the ones work provides; I prefer my own since I take care of it. Actually I have three belts- and it’s important to wash them between shifts. Think of all the germs that come into contact with these things! I have a small can of Lysol spray in my locker and every so often I use it on the belt…to kill the germs.
4) When I am working, I ALWAYS CARRY a small bottle of hand sanitizer. The stuff comes in sprays and pen form now too. I use it A LOT. I work with an aide who will rub it all over her face every so often- and she never gets sick! I use it every time I touch a door knob, or answer the phone. Some of my peers think I’m a little crazy about this- but I rarely get sick. I use it liberally and purchase several trial size bottles at Wal Mart.
5) Staying hydrated. A big one for me. Where I work it’s dry and the air is filtered, so little fresh, outdoor air comes in. I used to not bother drinking water because I didn’t think I had time. I always felt thirsty and my throat hurt due to the dryness. I don’t care for straight water; but I do like Vitamin Water- which comes in many flavors, is very low in calories and tastes good. I get them at Wal-Mart for less a dollar each and only buy them for work; I bring two or three bottles with me.
6) Eating at work can be challenging. We all know that our breaks are often interrupted, or short to begin with. It’s important to bring your own meal with you unless the facility provides them. Even then, I would opt to pack my own lunch. I know a lot of aides who skip meals altogether. That isn’t healthy. I pack a small lunch: A sandwich or pita wrap; some fruit, a granola type bar…keep it simple. Yogurt with nuts is good; a medium size salad can fill me up as well. I try to incorporate the major food groups: Meat, veggie, fruit…protein and the like. Premade pasta salads are very good as well.
7) Vitamins. A lot of people take them. Many or a few or even one. We each have our own needs and desires with this stuff. I take a multi vitamin AND lots of extra Vitamin C: We are exposed to a lot of germs and viruses every day. It’s important to stay well-nourished and the food we eat should provide us with all the daily requirements…however, there are some vitamins that don’t absorb well due to medications or lifestyle habits. It’s important to seek medical advice before embarking on any vitamin regime.
Finally, I always have on my person, a bunch of things that might be needed (and from experience, have indeed BEEN needed!)…A small bottle of Tylenol/Advil/Bufferin or whatever pain reliever works; some TUMS, a little bottle of IMODIUM; band aids…all travel size bottles or packages- that fit neatly in my bag or in the glove compartment. One never knows when the headache from you-know-where will come along; it’s good to have some relief on hand.