Nursing is a demanding job, and many nurses are overworked and underpaid. In fact, one study found that the challenging nature of the work led two-thirds of nurses to contemplate quitting in the last year. According to a study published in Health Environments and Research Design, though, regular exposure to natural light can help mitigate the stress-related symptoms nurses experience.
How Natural Light Can Help Nurses
Many nurses work long or irregular hours, and this can interfere with their access to sunlight. Researchers compared nurses who had access to indoor natural light to those who didn’t. Nurses with regular exposure to natural light had lower blood pressure. They also communicated more frequently with coworkers, laughed more frequently, and appeared to be in better moods when working with patients. The study’s authors advise that medical facilities that want to improve nurses’ health and well-being should provide access to windows near nurses’ work stations.
Natural Light and Depression
It makes sense that natural light can improve nurses’ moods, given that insufficient natural light has been implicated in seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression. People with SAD are more depressed during the winter and often feel better when they have access to indoor sunlamps and other forms of artificial sunlight.
Cynthia Lubow, MFT, a GoodTherapy.org depression topic expert, says that the study could provide information that extends well beyond nursing. “A great deal of Americans spend their days inside buildings without natural light, and if this has such a large effect on physical and emotional health, perhaps it’s an important contributing factor to the epidemic of depression in our country,” she says.the demands of constant caretaking, such as addictions, overeating, depression, habitually prioritizing others’ needs over theirs, emotional exhaustion, and anxiety. Any support we as a society can give them toward health and self-care would be good for nurses and their patients.”
- Nurses who have access to natural light are happier and healthier. (2014, August 6). Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/280624.php
- Two-thirds of nurses consider quitting due to stress. (2013, September 3). Retrieved from http://asq.org/qualitynews/qnt/execute/displaySetup?newsID=16792
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