5 Unhealthy Nursing Lifestyle Habits to Avoid

Nurses might be helping others to get well, but they still deal with several unhealthy nursing lifestyle habits. These habits affect the health and fitness of the nurse, so they cannot deliver efficiently on the job. 

Nursing is a highly rewarding career path, but unhealthy lifestyle habits can prevent a nurse from fully accessing these benefits. This post will highlight five unhealthy nursing lifestyle habits to avoid and why you should avoid them. 

Unhealthy Nursing Lifestyle Habits to Avoid

Here are five unhealthy lifestyle habits nurses should avoid:

Consuming poor diets

The thought of a hot pizza or burger may sound fantastic when under pressure. However, learning about the long-term effects of such meals on your health is crucial. High-sodium and high-fat diets can be detrimental to health.

Lack of planning has been linked in some research to an increased likelihood of making poor food choices. It's easy to get sucked into the dispenser for salty or sweet options if you didn't bring any healthy foods from home, like crackers, milk, or granola, for your shifts. You should reward yourself occasionally, but you shouldn't make it a regular occurrence.

Thinking long-term is key. Bring your food to eat during breaks to avoid getting hungry. This way, you have more control over your diet during work hours.

Inadequate Sleep

Many nurses don’t get sufficient rest after working overnight. Nurses survive on an average of 6.6 hours of sleep each night rather than the prescribed 8 hours on days they are expected to work.

Sleep deprivation, especially if it lasts for an extended period, is associated with an increased risk of several kinds of cancer. Research reveals that women who work night shifts for 15 years upwards (at a rate of more than three nights each month) may be at an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer. Another study suggested an increased risk of breast cancer for women who worked rotational night shifts for thirty years or more after menopause.

A night shift nurse's innate circadian cycle is an additional sleep enemy. It is common for night shift nurses to receive less sleep than their daytime shift counterparts. Daytime sleep is also short and less restorative than nighttime sleep.

Insufficient exercise

People who are less physically active are more likely to develop hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Reduced physical exercise has been linked to increased anxiety and sadness.

Overall, physical activity has positive psychological effects. Exercising, be it a brisk walk in the fresh air or a workout at the gym, can help you release pent-up frustrations and improve your mood.

You might believe you're getting enough exercise just by climbing the stairs to your apartment, but that's probably not the case. To reap the health benefits of aerobic exercise, experts recommend engaging in this type of activity for a minimum of 150 minutes per week at a moderate intensity, or 75 minutes per week at a strong intensity.

Learning about these unhealthy routines and how to avoid them can greatly enhance your life quality and protect your health as a nurse.

Rushing to work

There are only five minutes left till the start of your shift, and you won't even make it there in time. So, tell me, what would you do? If your answer isn't "be five minutes late," you're undoubtedly a speeder. Speeding is dangerous for everyone on the road, even if your intentions are good (like saving a life in an emergency situation). 

Avoid "time optimism," the mistaken notion that you can accomplish more in a short period of time than you can. While you might not be able to plan for crises, this solution applies in all other situations. You should give yourself a lot of time, even if it means abandoning a few things on your task list undone.

Inappropriate hand hygiene

Even if they can be helpful, there are several shortcuts that you should avoid utilizing when you have a busy day with a lot on your plate. One of them would be not cleaning your hands properly after using the bathroom. You risk getting sick and maybe infecting other people in the hospital.

In other words, there isn't a simple answer here. Create a routine where you wash your hands frequently, even if it takes a few extra minutes.


Learning about unhealthy nursing lifestyle habits to avoid can greatly enhance your life quality and protect your health. Keep in mind that your ability to care for your patients and loved ones, as well as the numerous people who will count on you in the future, will increase in direct proportion to your current and future state of health.

May 12, 2023

Natasha Osei

Passionate Nurse Practitioner | People person
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