By Amy Osmond Cook, Ph.D.

What do actresses Bonnie Hunt, Julie Walters, and recording artists Paul Brandt and Tina Turner have in common? They were all trained as nurses! In honor of the “Year of the Healthy Nurse,” now is a great time to recognize the role nurses play in our lives. The demands placed on nurses every day are huge. Our nurses are committed to providing the best care possible, and they try their hardest to meet that challenge every day. And sometimes that commitment means being brutally honest about a patient’s symptoms or habits. Your friends may not tell you that your moodiness has hung around for weeks, or your jeans are fitting a bit tight — but a nurse will tell you. In the spirit of good health and valuable relationship advice, here are five things your nurse is willing to discuss that your friends aren’t.

Relationship Advice That Come Straight From Nurses

1. Weight gain. Despite your friends insisting they can’t see a difference in your waistline, your nurse on the other hand will likely confirm your biggest fears — yep, you have gained weight. If you have been diligent about exercise and diet, your nurse will discuss the possible reasons behind the weight gain. Things to consider may be your medications or your thyroid. A nurse may also discuss your sleep patterns or your ability to cope with stress. Putting a stop to unhealthy weight gain in the early stages will make you feel better sooner. Not to mention, your nurse probably has an arsenal of fitness secrets that can help you get in shape and ready for the dating scene.

2. Skin symptoms. Your friends may discount your less-than-glowing skin, but a nurse will explore the reasons why your skin is less than luxurious. Who couldn’t use helpful beauty tips from someone who actually studied medicine? “A helpful acronym to remember the specific questions to ask patients when taking a skin history is ‘OLD CARTS,’ which gives a systematic approach to questioning in a skin assessment,” health writer Julie Van Onselen says. This includes onset, location, duration, character, aggravating factors, relieving factors, timing, and severity.

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3. Mood swings. You may not realize it, but a nurse assesses mental status during your physical. “The mental status assessment is an essential part of the examination,” experts at the Nurses Learning Network say. In general terms, mental status could be described as an individual’s state of awareness and responsiveness to the environment. It also includes the more complex areas of a person’s mental functioning, such as intelligence, orientation, thought process and judgment. Your friends may steer clear of the neighborhood grouchy pants, but a nurse will face your behavior head-on to determine the root of your negative feelings and relationship problems.

4. Lack of exercise and poor diet. We may try to lie about our daily habits, but our vitals will always paint another picture. Unlike a friend who may look the other way, a nurse will know the truth about how many times we hit the treadmill versus how many sets of pants are draped over it at the moment. “It is so important for patients to be truthful about their daily habits. When patients try to hide their smoking or drug and alcohol use, for example, it prevents us from providing the best care to fit their needs,” Julie Aiken, CEO of Ameritech College of Healthcare, said. “Another thing patients don’t think about is the importance of mentioning any dietary supplements or over-the-counter medications that they’re taking along with prescribed medications. Doctors need a comprehensive view of a patient’s health history to design the ideal treatment plan.

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5. Address your stress. Stress kills. And as much as you may try to hide it, the effects of prolonged stress can affect your physical well-being. Nurses know a thing or two about controlling stress; it’s a large part of the job. So when the topic of stress comes out in the open, a nurse may prescribe a variety of helpful remedies. Things like taking a walk, reading, soaking in a hot bath, talking with friends, or crocheting, are popular ways for nurses to deal with stress. Many nurses have also found a healthy connection with yoga, meditation, and other relaxation exercises. “We bring in a massage therapist for staff every few weeks where they can receive a 15-minute neck and upper back massage,” said Julie Aiken, CEO of Ameritech College of Healthcare. She added that faculty and staff could participate in weekly yoga sessions, daily group walks, and both students and staff are encouraged to use essential oils to help with stress relief.

We love our trusted friends, and we count on them to support us when we need it most. But when it comes to our health, and sometimes even relationship advice, the dedication of our nurses is something we can truly count on to keep us healthy every day.

For more information about and articles by our relationship expert Dr. Amy Osmond Cook, click here.