Sabrina B. Anastasio, BSN, RN, CRN, LMT
Did I do anything today that made a difference?
It’s a question nurse Sabrina Anastasio ponders at the end of each day. Sabrina changed careers to become a nurse at the age of 50, and now at the age of 57, she makes every effort to practice what she preaches.
This mindset began when Sabrina caught herself in a spiral of unhealthy eating and drinking. She was also diagnosed with a genetic kidney disease called Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) that brought a slew of undesirable side effects. Instead of prescribing to a lifetime of medication, Sabrina looked for other ways to manage her condition and improve her health.
After thorough research and discussions with her doctors, Sabrina turned to water as her drug of choice.
“Hydration became the biggest component in my life to activate better health,” said Sabrina.
How Hydration Improves Health
Studies say proper hydration has numerous effects on the body. Not only does it improve the side effects associated with Sabrina’s genetic kidney disease, it also improves her health by:
- Increasing energy levels
- Allowing for greater focus and concentration
- Reducing anxiety
- Improving memory
- Reducing hunger pangs
Dehydration is often manifested as hunger pangs. Nothing that a quick dose of room temperature water can’t fix. Sabrina suggests to try an 8- to 16-ounce room temperature PO bolus and check back in ten minutes. What hunger?
Research backs this up — it shows that drinking water improves cognitive functions like alertness, as well as attention and reaction time.
All of this is crucial to a nurse both on the job and at home. So, when Sabrina needs a “brain boost,” she drinks 16 ounces of water in one sitting. Within about 10 minutes, she feels relieved and more grounded.
“I firmly believe in walking away, drinking water, and coming back feeling fresh again,” said Sabrina.
Sharing a Passion with Coworkers
Because Sabrina has seen the powerful effects of hydration firsthand, she often shares her experience with fellow nurses and even patients.
“I pay it forward by stepping into their shoes,” said Sabrina. “For patients, I become a patient with them. With nurses, I know what it feels like to be stressed.”
She often tells those around her, especially during times of high stress, to take a drink of water. And while this is more challenging for many healthcare professionals during COVID-19, it’s more important than ever.
Nurses who are working long hours and are constantly on the go have to find time to drink more water — but they have another challenge.
“It’s not always finding time to drink water that’s the problem,” said Sabrina, “it’s finding time to use the restroom.” Sabrina makes a point to schedule bathroom breaks throughout her shift and encourages her coworkers to do the same.
Staying Grounded in a Time of Stress
As a nurse in the Department of Radiology at NewYork-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center, Sabrina works close to the frontlines of the COVID-19 virus. Through tears, she explained that now more than ever, finding what works for you to destress is crucial.
For Sabrina, the best forms of stress relief are non-conventional therapies.
“My background prior to nursing was in holistic medicine and massage therapy, so I’m a huge advocate for deep breathing/meditation and aromatherapy,” said Sabrina. “Sharing that knowledge with others makes my heart happy.”
As a nurse, Sabrina understands the health and wellness challenges that healthcare professionals face, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Her advice:
- Remember that you are making a difference. We all are making a difference, even if it’s in conversations with peers or family.
- People are watching and listening. Practice what you preach. Listen to the advice you give your own patients.
- Drink water. When your mind feels cloudy and you can’t decide something, take a big drink of water. Wait a moment and see if your mind clears.
“There’s always a way — even with a glove — you can hold a hand,” she said.
Sabrina B. Anastasio, BSN, RN, CRN, LMT is a staff nurse in the Department of Radiology at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in New York.
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