By Tim Teague on Apr 10, 2019 11:00:00 AM
There’s a lot to love about being a nurse! The job affords many opportunities and great pay. However, one tough reality for many healthcare professionals is the “typical” 12-hour shift. Although nursing can be quite flexible, it often is not a nine-to-five job.
Given the unique demands, it’s important for nurses to maintain their own mental and physical health. Here are five tips to help you manage the challenges of 12-hour shifts:
Proper Sleep –
While nurses tend to endure longer shifts than other employees, their weekly work schedules are often shorter periods. Nurses typically work three 12-hour days as opposed to five eight-hour days. This means that many nurses actually enjoy more flexibility than other employees.
So, good sleep makes a lot of sense in the world of nursing. Not only does it help to facilitate work productivity and care delivery, it is also justified given the increased days off. Why should a nurse burn the midnight oil in her personal life when she can make up for lost time during her extra-long weekend?
Healthy Snacks –
It’s become a bit of a cliché but holds true nonetheless. Nurses are often negligent in maintaining their own health. However, this ironic stereotype doesn’t need to be the fate of all healthcare workers.
Nurses can supplement unhealthy lunches and dinners with nutritious snacks during regular breaks. Then, they can eat a light lunch or dinner that satisfies a more balanced appetite. Adopting a “grazing” eating pattern is well-suited for people working in a high-stress, long-hour clinical environment.
Hobbies & Activities –
As discussed earlier, nurses are fortunate in that they often enjoy significant time-off. This ranges from three-day workweeks to generous PTO policies. It is important for healthcare workers to take advantage of the flexibility.
Nurses should adopt healthy activities and hobbies that stimulate the mind and body. Perhaps the golf course is less crowded on Mondays, and you work Tuesday through Thursday. Great! Maybe golf is a perfect sport. Likewise, nurses should remember to schedule frequent vacations. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying brunch in the Bahamas while the rest of the world clocks-in for work!
In the age of smartphones, we’re all digitally connected 24/7. However, that constant stimulation isn’t always healthy. It is especially concerning for nurses in a healthcare setting.
Allow yourself to “cut the cord” during work hours. Inform friends and family you’re unavailable during those times. Not only will you perform better, you’ll also enjoy greater peace-of-mind.
Commute & Proximity –
“Windshield time” is an important consideration for all workers in large cities. However, it is even a bigger concern for nurses. The added stress of longer shifts and critical job duties means that extreme commutes wear especially hard on healthcare workers.
In the end, most nurses realize they are blessed with terrific careers. However, the 12-hour shifts can sometimes take a toll. Healthcare workers who find ways to reduce their stress levels will benefit from better work-life balance.
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