Being a certified nursing assistant (CNA) is incredibly rewarding. You are able to help the most vulnerable people in our society and form deep and lasting bonds. However, it’s also a demanding job, and because CNAs tend to be focused on others, it’s easy to neglect your own health.

As they say, you cannot pour from an empty cup. It’s of the utmost importance that you take care of yourself before you take care of others. When you prioritize your mental and physical health, you are better able to show up for your work.

Whether you’re a veteran CNA, you’re starting a new job, or you’re just thinking about a career shift, here are some tips for prioritizing health.

Find Joyful Movement

Being a CNA requires a lot of time on your feet, and it may involve some heavy lifting. This means being in good physical condition is important. Everyone should prioritize movement, but this is especially true for CNAs due to the physical nature of the job.

Find a form of exercise that brings you joy, and it will be easy to stick to it regularly. Whether you become a yogi or join a Jazzercise studio, if it feels good, add it to your routine. Movement is not only good for your physical health, it’s a fantastic stress reliever.

Get Sleep

CNAs are very busy, and they often work shifts at unique hours. This can mean that sleep gets neglected in favor of other demands on your time. However, sleep deprivation is something that will significantly impact how effective you can be at your job. Make sure to prioritize getting at least seven hours of quality sleep a night. If you work overnight shifts, invest in some blackout curtains to make it easier for you to sleep during the day.

Meal Prep

Everyone knows that a healthy diet is integral to your wellbeing, and this is especially true for healthcare providers. However, many do not practice what they preach. You might turn to the most convenient foods due to a lack of time, but these are almost always low in nutritional value. While you may not have time to cook for yourself every day, you can have convenient and healthy meals by prepping.

If you can take a few hours on your day off to cook, you can eat healthily all week. Keep it simple by preparing three meals for yourself for the week all in one day, and all you will need to do to eat a healthy meal is to grab it out of your refrigerator.

Relax

It can be difficult to decompress when you’re in the healthcare field. That’s why it is crucial to intentionally schedule relaxation. What will be best for you will depend on your own preferences, as long as you make time for it regularly. You could schedule regular massages, go to yoga, practice meditation, set aside time to read, or whatever you find personally relaxing.

Hydrate

It’s very easy to forget to drink water throughout the day. However, it’s crucial that CNAs do what they can to stay hydrated, especially since many are more likely to reach for a cup of joe or an energy drink. Make a point to drink water. If you don’t love the taste, try flavoring your water by infusing it with fruit.

Have Hobbies

CNAs are very busy people, and it’s common to let your interests outside of work fall by the wayside. However, having things that you are passionate about is important for achieving the right work/life balance. Having pastimes is a great way to relieve stress and to keep things in perspective. Your work shouldn’t be your entire life.

Socialize

Human beings are wired for connection, so it’s very important that you regularly interact with others. It might be more difficult to get together if you have a different schedule now that you’re a CNA, but still prioritize your friendships and other significant relationships. Even if all you can manage is meeting for a cup of coffee before work, interacting with others is beneficial for your overall health.

Go to the Doctor (and Dentist)

Without much free time, you might be putting off that health care appointment, but it’s in your best interest to prioritize it. Prevention is worth a pound of cure, so going to the doctor for that annual physical is better than putting it off until you have a major health concern. Prioritize your health now and you may be able to intervene with small lifestyle changes, rather than undertaking major treatments in the future.

Becoming a CNA is a wonderful way to use your love of helping people to create a rewarding and fast-paced career. If you’re interested in CNA jobs in Denver, check out our Employment page for more information.