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A nurse’s primary focus is always to care for their patients. Nevertheless, self-care must not be entirely neglected either. Unfortunately, nurses don’t always prioritize self-care. 

When you ask about their neglectful personal care regime, working long hours, not getting enough time, and exhaustion is some reasons most nurses cite. 

Six self-care tips for nurses regularly working long shifts

Regardless of the challenging nature of your work, you can get through it much better if you care for yourself properly. The simple rule is to take care of all aspects of your health if you want to care for your patients effectively. If you neglect self-care, your body and mind will never be prepared for the grueling long shifts at the hospital. 

Here are some self-care tips for nurses to strike a balance between their work and life. 

If you neglect self-care, your body and mind will never be prepared for the grueling long shifts at the hospital.  Here are some self-care tips for nurses to strike a balance between their work and life.
Senior woman gets first aid from a nurse and uses an inhaler

Be prepared 

Preparing for a long shift means designing your life to make yourself mentally and physically ready for your job. If you manage your life activities so that self-care is part of your routine, long shifts won’t look as dreadful. For instance, prepare your uniform and ready-to-eat breakfasts the night before so you won’t run late or skip breakfast. 

Choose wisely among various options.

Managing your life with a hectic routine requires you to make wise decisions so that self-care is part of your life. For instance, if you are studying alongside working, go for an online degree instead of a weekend or evening on-campus program. Choose an online BSN or one from online BSN DNP programs instead of an on-campus program. 

Besides giving you time for self-care due to flexible scheduling, online programs instill skills such as organization, time management, communication, etc. A DNP degree will simultaneously prepare you for critical leadership roles at the end of the degree. You will also have time to spend with your family, play with your pet, or sit back and unwind after a long shift. 

Keep yourself hydrated and eat well.

Not keeping yourself hydrated and having unhealthy eating habits will make it challenging to fulfill the requirements of a long shift at the hospital. 

You might be very dedicated to your job, but you can jeopardize your patients’ lives if you don’t eat and drink enough water or fresh juices. You might make mistakes or be rude to your patients. Your body might feel weak and less energetic, making it difficult to concentrate on the tasks. 

Therefore, take mandatory breaks, eat healthily, and drink plenty of fluids to stay upbeat and healthy. 

Take care of your mental health.

Mental health is essential for living a content life. When your mental health is compromised, your physical health and appearance get affected too. 

If something bothers you, such as hectic shifts, a particular patient’s behavior, etc., don’t keep the negative energy inside. Talk to your nurse manager and solve your grievance at the earliest. 

Exercise regularly

Exercise prepares your body for the demanding work at the hospital. It strengthens your muscles, helps relieve muscle tension, improves posture, and makes you happy. When you exercise, your brain releases feel-good and stress-relieving hormones. You stay cheerful and happy all day and serve your patients better too. As a result, the long shift ahead of you may start looking less tiring and challenging. 

If you don’t find it easier to exercise before the shift, engage in physical activity during breaks. If your feel lethargic, exercising during the shift will make you energetic and keep you awake. 

Concentrate on the positives of your life

Staying positive helps ensure better mental and physical health and reduces the detrimental effects of long work hours. Therefore, it is essential to have a positive outlook on your life. 

Nevertheless, staying positive does not mean avoiding negative emotions, such as anger, mental and physical fatigue, helplessness, and sadness. Feeling them is also essential as they help you get through various situations. But you are staying positive means fighting a complete takeover by negative emotions. Thinking about past mistakes never helps you with your work. Instead, reminiscing makes you feel dejected, stressed, and sad. 

Practice yoga and meditation to focus on the positive aspects of your life. You can do that during shifts or when you find a quiet corner. 

Conclusion

Exercise, yoga, meditation, and focusing on positivity are ways to care for yourself. Also, please don’t compare your work with others; it dampens your spirits and affects your work and self-confidence. Make self-care a primary concern, and you will see its positive effects on your life. Remember, you must prioritize your mental and physical health to perform your duties and responsibilities efficiently.

Alicia Trautwein is an Autism advocate, writer, motivational speaker, and dedicated mom of four. Alicia’s desire to advocate for Autism comes from her own autism diagnosis and that of her three children, niece, and brother. Her life’s mission is to educate on autism acceptance and change the world for future generations of autistic individuals.

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