The Importance of Self-Care After a Long Nursing Shift

nurse resting on a couchOver the last year, nurses all around the world have been working harder than ever before while bravely battling the deadly coronavirus pandemic. Due to many health workers becoming ill themselves, and huge numbers of people catching Covid 19, nurses have been under great pressure, and this has been taking its toll on their health. When you are a selfless person, looking only to ensure the wellbeing and comfort of your patients, it is easy to forget about your own health.

After a 12 to 24-hour shift, most of us want to get home as quickly as possible in order to get into bed, and not leave. Long nursing shifts involve hours and hours of walking, limited food and bathroom breaks, and actively caring for ill patients. Such long and intense shifts take a mental toll on nurses, as well as a physical toll. However, the good news is that there are steps you can take to make sure that you feel mentally sharp and physically ready the next time you have a long nursing shift. Keep reading to learn more. 

Taking care of your physical wellbeing

Long nursing shifts can take a substantial toll on the body. Nurses often spend their entire shift on their feet, walking between rooms and patients, and many nurses must also help lift patients, adjust heavy equipment, and more. That is a lot of effort for the human body, especially as we get older. 

It is important to regularly take time to care for your body so that you are better prepared for your long shifts. Regular exercise can help you to maintain fitness so that you are able to have more energy for long shifts and also have the strength to carry out the regular tasks required. Eating well-rounded meals before long shifts is also helpful as a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and healthy proteins will give you the energy you need to carry on.

Daily stretching and yoga can also help to keep joints, muscles and ligaments happy throughout long shifts. A light morning workout in the home can help set you up for the day ahead. You don’t want to be doing anything too intense, so yoga exercises that stretch your muscles while gently moving your body is a great option, and a good way to stay strong and supple.

The significance of mental health care

As important as physical health is, it is also essential to care for your mental and emotional wellbeing – no matter what job you have, 12 to 24-hour shifts will be mentally exhausting. Nursing also requires a high degree of focus as even the smallest mistakes can have lasting impacts on the patient’s health, perceptions and care. 

After long shifts, you should take time to do something purely for yourself and make time for activities you enjoy. Whether it is a long walk alone, a quiet movie night, or a gym session, it is extremely important to take time for yourself, slow down, and check in with yourself. If you are not feeling well consistently, you should take steps to seek help.

Taking your career to the next level

If you are looking to take control of your career and bring it to the next level, a secondary nursing qualification is a great way to do so. The Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program at Wilkes University trains nurses in both a classroom and clinical environment. Through the PMHNP-BC program, nurses are able to gain real-world experience in their field of choice and also learn from top professionals in the field. 

By specializing in a particular nursing field, you will be able to work in an area you are interested in, and you could potentially transfer to a field of nursing with more regular hours. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *