Is Nursing Making You Sick, Fat and Old?

Of all the career paths we could have chosen, we picked nursing. Whether it’s because we love taking care of other people or we just love the science behind the human body, for better or worse, we are nurses. If you’ve been working in the field for a long time, you’ve probably heard a few common complaints from your coworkers. These could be about weight gain or joint pain or really any number of bodily grievances.

While nursing does expose you to patients who suffer from a variety of diseases or illnesses, we aren’t really talking about contagious issues when we talk about nursing making us sick, fat, and old. Rather, the side effects of the work that we do can lead to premature aging and chronic illness. Keep reading for more information on the dangers that nursing can supply.

Nursing and Bodily Stress

Nursing, like any career that necessitates physical movement, can put a lot of stress on the body in a variety of ways.

  • Lack of proper nutrition. Because many hospitals and clinics are short-staffed, many nurses don’t get a chance to have a proper lunch break. Instead of being able to sit down, relax, and eat a nutritious home-cooked meal, many nurses have to resort to vending machine snacks from the break room. Still others may choose a quick meal at the nearest fast-food restaurant. This type of eating long-term can lead to heart problems, weight gain, and high blood pressure.
  • Joint pain. Nurses are constantly on their feet. They go from room to room attending to patients, often needing to sprint down the hallway if an emergency is happening. For nurses that don’t get their recommended exercise every day, this can put stress on joints, leading to worn down cartilage, arthritis, and other problems.
  • Heavy lifting. Nurses are often required to lift and move patients or equipment. The weight of these things can cause arm and shoulder pain or lead to chronic back pain, especially in nurses who aren’t lifting weights as part of their exercise routine. Improper lifting techniques can exacerbate the problem.

Nursing and Emotional Stress

While much of the work in nursing is physical in nature, nurses also deal with a lot of emotional stress. This type of stress can incur all sorts of other problems as well. Here’s what stress does to the body and mind.

  • Chronic anxiety. What was once situational stress can quickly evolve to chronic anxiety. Worrying constantly about patients and treatments without any fulfilling outcome can mean that our brain never gets that resolution it needs to calm down. Chronic anxiety can easily lead to depression, which itself brings out several other physical and mental problems.
  • Brain pain. Worrying actually burns brain cells, which can result in foggy-mindedness and lost trains of thought. While this doesn’t sound like a very big deal, for a nurse it can have disastrous results. Mixing up medications or ordering the wrong tests for a patient could lead to life-threatening problems and legal ramifications.
  • Sleep deprivation. Constant stress and worrying can cause our brain to stay active when it’s time to shut down. Instead of falling into a restful sleep after a long day at work, many nurses struggle to release the stresses of the day and may not be able to sleep at night, meaning that fogginess can happen much more easily the next day.
  • Premature aging. Think about something that worries you, a problem you are facing at work. Notice what your face is doing. How are your muscles pulling? If you find yourself frowning, furrowing your eyebrows, or squinting, you can say hello to wrinkles pretty soon. This premature aging of your face isn’t the worst thing that could happen but do your best to prevent your job from making you look older than you are. It’ll be good for your mental health and self-confidence.

 

Final Thoughts

If you find yourself struggling at work and often feel rundown, it is possible that your job is making you sick, old, and fat. This is simply no way to live, so if you think this is the case, do some online research into stress management techniques like yoga, meditation, or mindfulness. Therapy is also an excellent option. If none of these options are available to you, reach out to a friend or family member to talk things out.