During my consolidation, I’ve found different ways to make sure I feel good during my long 12 hour shifts. As a nurse, it’s so easy to get wrapped up in caring for your patients that you neglect your own needs. I can honestly say when you look after yourself you go home after a shift feeling so much better.
Drink lots of H2O. This is one thing I can’t stress enough…I always feel so much better during a shift if I stay hydrated. Find a good water bottle that you can keep at the nursing station to sip on when you’re charting or have some downtime.
Eat healthy. Bring your own healthy food. The better you eat during a shift, the more energized you feel. Take your breaks and make eating a priority. During night shifts, I like to bring high energy snacks instead of full meals – nuts & seeds, avocados, protein bars, dried fruit…otherwise I feel nauseous the whole time which is no fun!
Dress comfortably. Nothing is worse than being uncomfortable during a shift. I like to dress in layers so I can add or remove as needed. Sometimes I get super hot if I’m busy running around or other times I’m freezing while I’m charting at the nursing station.
Moisturize. The hospital is SUPER dry. I bring face and hand moisturizer as well as lip balm to apply during my shift. This really helps me to stay feeling happy!
Take your breaks. Some shifts it’s hard to squeeze in your breaks, but it’s really crucial to your wellbeing. Just finding a quiet place to put your feet up and unwind for a few minutes really helps me to cope.
Make connections. The nurses you work with really make or break the work experience. Chat with them during breaks, offer your help. Getting along with your coworkers really makes a huge difference and makes getting through those long 12 hour shifts way more bearable.
Get some sleep. This is definitely something I still need to work on…especially after night shifts. I have a really hard time napping or even getting enough sleep before or after night shifts. Find what works for you. Have a hot bath after a shift to wind down. Take melatonin or drink bedtime tea. Whatever helps you to calm your body after a busy shift.
I hope these tips can be helpful for all of you aspiring nurses out there! After three years of clinical and only just beginning a true shift cycle for consolidation, taking care of myself is all about experimenting. What works for others might not be what works best for you and that is okay. It is important to focus on the things that keep you happy during nursing shifts so you can be ready to direct your focus to your patients and their families!