As a nurse, it sometimes seems ironic to be so busy taking care of others that I don't feel like I have time to take care of myself. However, I have to remind myself that just a minute to focus on my needs will help me do a better job taking care of others because I'll be more refreshed and alert. One of the areas in which this is especially relevant is the need to stay hydrated on long shifts. The standard recommendation is to divide your weight in half and drink that many ounces of water every day. Here are some strategies you can use to make it happen.
Drink before your shift: It's not uncommon to be a few hours into a shift before having a chance to take a break of even a minute or two, so drink a cup of water before the shift begins to start off hydrated. If you make it part of your routine when you get to work to drink water and use the restroom, you'll at least be starting off on the right foot.
Keep Water Accessible: Thirst seems to strike when you're nowhere near a glass of water, which is why you ensure you keep a water bottle close by. That way, you can take a sip or two when you feel thirsty rather than having to wait until you can find a moment to swing by the break room.
Set a timer: Hours can slide by without you realizing it, so set a timer on your watch to beep every hour or every two hours. When it beeps, take a moment to evaluate your physical condition and needs. Then take a minute the next chance you have to drink a bit of water, use the restroom, or sit down and take a few deep breaths.
Bring the water you want to drink: If you consistently find yourself realizing you haven't had enough to drink, consider bringing the exact amount you want to drink during your shift in refillable water bottles. Then you can glance at your bag to know exactly how much more you should drink before your shift is over.
Flavor your water: Water is the best beverage to keep you hydrated, but flavorings can make you want to drink even more of it. Mix in a bit of juice or stir in a flavor packet to make your water more appealing to your taste buds and encourage you to drink more.
While you're taking care of others, remember to take care of yourself as well. You need to stay hydrated on long shifts to maintain your energy and be able to give your best to patients. Keep trying hydration strategies until you find one that works for you and your setting!