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How to Decompress After a Long Nursing Shift

January 13, 2015

The rate of burnout among nursing professionals is on the rise, according to MedPage Today. The reason – long shifts; nurses work up to 13 or more hours and that has consequences. Finding ways to decompress after taking care of others is the key to bucking this trend and remaining healthy and happy on the job.

Schedule Some Alone Time

Simply setting aside a few minutes for yourself can help rejuvenate your mind and body. If  you go right from taking care of patients to taking care of kids, you are not giving your mind time to clear. Do what you have to do just to steal a few minutes whether it means locking yourself in the bathroom to meditate or leaving the baby with the sitter a few minutes longer.

Stay Active

Exercise is the body’s natural steam valve. Try to find a way to fit in fitness after work. If you have the energy, hit the gym or go for a run. If you are too tired, just take a leisurely stroll around the block.

Yoga is a practical way to stretch your muscles and relieve tension. Take a class and learn which positions help you revitalize after a long day and do them when you get home. Practicing yoga regularly also improves your flexibility and stamina, so a long shift takes less of a toll on you.

Make the Most of Your Time Off

This means leaving the job at work. Spend your days off doing something you love. Find a hobby, play with the kids, or go to a local attraction if you travel – whatever makes you happy. If you relax during your off time, you won’t start a long shift already carrying a lot of baggage.

Energize Your Diet

Turkey makes you sleepy. Sugar gives you a burst of energy, followed by a jolting crash. Finding foods that actually improve your energy level is a boost during and after a shift. WebMD suggests you eat before you leave work to improve your energy level when you get home. Something quick like a piece of fruit or cheese will give you a pick-me-up, so you can spend your off time doing something you enjoy.

Disconnect for an Hour

Turn off the phone, stay away from the computer and shut out the world to get Zen after a long shift. Sit down in a chair with your eyes closed and just focus on your breathing. This moment of disconnect energizes your brain and releases tension.

Decompression is very much a personal thing, so find out what works for you whether it's a hot bath, a good book or a run in the park.

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