Do nurses get time for themselves during long working hours and challenging work conditions? Ask any nurse, and they will tell you that burnout is a reality while working in the nursing field. Moreover, understaffing and patients’ constantly growing healthcare needs demand nurses working inside a clinical setting to be on their toes all the time. Because of this, more and more nurses say that they don’t have enough time to take breaks or even a simple breather from their duties. That said, such a thing isn’t doing nurses and their patients any good whatsoever. After all, working non-stop for countless hours on end can physically and mentally drain anyone, let alone a nurse.
Consider this; would you expect maximum performance from an athlete who participates in a five-hour marathon and then, without taking rest, in another one the following day? Probably not. The same is the case for the nursing profession. However, finding healthy ways to reduce burnout, manage stress, and stay alert is an easy way to maintain your mental and physical health and build a successful career in nursing. And as a nurse, you can start by taking simple measures and utilize your nurse break more effectively. How so? We’ve mentioned a few tips below.
Use your break to study
If you’re upskilling your nursing practice by pursuing higher education such as a masters of nursing online, don’t waste your break time in hospital gossip. You can use that time smartly to catch on your coursework and complete assignments. Create a proper learning schedule and maximize your breaks to complete your academic goals smartly. If it helps, isolate yourself for the entire duration so that you can maintain focus.
Stretch your muscles whenever you get the chance
When you’re working as a registered nurse round the clock, exhaustion isn’t only mental. It’s physical as well. However, we have excellent news for you. You don’t need to take out an hour or even thirty minutes from your work schedule to give your body a little tender love and care.
All you need to do is incorporate stretching into your post-work and pre-work schedule to give your muscles the looseness they need. It will allow you to unkink your body and ready it or recover from hours of moving equipment or lifting patients. You can do the same while seated on a desk too. It will enable you to boost your blood flow and energy levels while loosening up all your muscles, from your upper back to your quads to your calves.
Don’t forget to eat while you’re on a break
Running to and from the healthcare facility cafeteria for lunch and waiting in line to eat will cut into your break time. Moreover, it will also increase your likelihood of eating foods that aren’t good for your health. In addition, according to research, diet also directly affects your mood. So, skipping food breaks, neglecting your omega 3-fatty acid intakes, reducing carb intake, and consuming fewer calories than you’re supposed to will make you feel tired and send you drowning.
So, make the most of your nurse breaks by keeping some healthy snacks on you, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats. In addition, instead of drinking juices and other sugary beverages, consider consuming smoothies to give your energy levels a boost. Doing so will allow you to enjoy food while also staying mentally and physically fit to perform on the job.
Find a quiet place to relax
Experts recommend that it is wise to take advantage of your nursing break to recalibrate your body and rest up. That said, consider taking a moment and meditating to give your mind a well-deserved time out. However, finding a place in a busy work environment is easier said than done. But, your break room will work in your favor in such a situation.
When you’re overworked and short-staffed while constantly having to stay on your feet, taking a short five-minute break to rest and contemplate on your life is an excellent way to give yourself a breather. After all, overworked nurses tend to perform with less productivity. Not to mention, it also increases the risk of care-related errors. So, ensure that you take a rest whenever you get the chance to get away from the noise and chaos of the nursing profession. Otherwise, you will fall and won’t be able to see your shift through.
Restock your nursing station
After taking a much-needed break to refuel your body and mind, and if you still have some time left before your off time ends, utilize it effectively to organize your station or cubicle. After all, missing essential nursing supplies can lead to a chaotic shift, even if you weren’t the one who had to empty the bins or restock your station. If you’re an expert at multi-tasking, it will be easier for you to accomplish this. However, constantly searching for nursing essentials such as a roll of medical tape or an IV start kit leads to more delays between you and the patients requiring medical assistance. Hence, do your prep work in the last few minutes of break time.
Ensure that you’re stocking your cubicle or station with the essential nursing supplies, so you don’t have to rummage through every drawer or corner to find the job-related critical items. After all, the nursing profession is all about being on deck and ever-ready to deal with any emergencies.
In every profession out there, restorative breaks are vital to ensure you perform at your maximum capacity. However, this is more applicable in the nursing field, which is mentally, emotionally, and physically taxing for nurses. So, consider making the most of your nursing break whenever you get one, of course. Doing so will allow you to fully refuel and restore your body while reducing stress and promoting a greater sense of happiness within yourself. Not to mention, improved job satisfaction as well!