LMH Health accepts Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation challenge

photo by: Jason Dailey/Contributed Photo

Nurse Josh Nemechek, from LMH Health Oncology

LMH Health has accepted the American Nurse Association’s Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation challenge this year.

The Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation challenge is a social movement, designed to improve the health of the more than 4 million registered nurses in the United States. Since nurses fill much of their time devoted to helping improve their patients’ health, it is important that they do not neglect their own self-care and healthy habits.

“Nurses are one of the most trusted professions in the United States,” said Traci Hoopingarner, LMH Health vice president of clinical care and chief nursing officer. “We want to set an example on healthy living for our patients at LMH Health.”

The model for this challenge is a three-step process: to engage, to improve and to create. The challenge aims to engage nurses personally, organizationally and interpersonally. Once signed up, nurses are given challenges and motivation to participate in different self-care activities including physical activity, rest, nutrition, quality of life and safety. In turn, nurses focus on and take time for these aspects in their lives, which helps create a better environment for those around them, including their patients and family members.

photo by: Jason Dailey/Contributed Photo

Nurse Claire Wilkinson, from LMH Health Obstetrics

“Nurses don’t always take care of themselves because they are caregivers of others,” Hoopingarner said. “They need to make time for physical activity, managing their diet, handling stress and much more. The Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation challenge gives participants a small new challenge each week that can help nurses meet the goal of a good work and home life balance. It’s free and they get sent to your phone so you can click on them easily and they take hardly any time to read.”

Hoopingarner said the challenges show you what you can do to improve your quality of life. There are activities such as yoga, meditation and creating a healthy atmosphere.

Nichole Burggraf, a registered nurse with the Endoscopy Center, said she started realizing she needed to be more conscious of her self-care after her second child.

“I really started my health kick after my second kid,” Burggraf said. “I wanted to do this for myself and lose my baby weight, but I also wanted to start doing it for my kids and give them a good example of health and give them a healthy mindset.”

With child obesity rates on the rise, Burggraf makes sure she surrounds her kids with an active and healthy home environment. Her healthy habits at home have carried over into her work as a nurse and have inspired her to do just as the challenge suggests: be an example in her surrounding environments of what a healthy lifestyle could look like.

“I am conscientious of the health and fitness goals I portray to my patients,” Burggraf said. “I am not the perfect model for health, but I strive to be a good influence and be encouraging to them.”

Burggraf said that people will really over complicate being healthy. They tend to mix in complicated fad diets and think the healthy lifestyle just has too many hoops to jump through.

“Really, I just tell people to eat right with lean meats, lots of water intake, reducing junk food and to mix this with a little bit of movement each day,” Burggraf said. “A balanced diet and exercise is all you need.”

The Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation challenge provides nurses with tips and tricks on simply taking some down time for themselves. Burggraf says this can sometimes be hard, since days can be long and both physically and emotionally draining.

“It can be hard when you’re on the go and busy with work to stop and make time for yourself,” Burggraf said. “My exercise is my stress relief and I have been able to tie these two together to combine healthy habits and relaxation. Sometimes, after work, I will sit in my car for a few minutes, take some deep breaths and relax. This is where I switch from nurse mode to mom mode and once I get home I try to get some movement in first before starting my evening.”

Burggraf said it is important for nurses to take time for meditation and to do something they enjoy so that they can not only serve themselves, but also their patients and peers. Since it can be so easy to want to get home after a busy day and grab a bag of chips, she preps her meals and snacks so when she needs something quick to eat, it’s easy to grab presliced fruits and vegetables rather than an unhealthy snack. Her kids are also more likely to grab the healthier options when they’re available and easily accessible.

“It is important to prepare yourself for success and make realistic goals,” Burggraf said. “The Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation challenge gives actionable steps for nurses to take to improve their quality of life. When we as nurses can care for ourselves, we can serve those we care for better. LMH Health accepting this challenge will help us to better serve the community.”

— Jessica Brewer is an intern in the Marketing and Communications Department at LMH Health, which is a major sponsor of the Lawrence Journal-World’s Health section.

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