Nursing can be an incredibly rewarding career. However, the long hours and high level of stress on you face on the job can take start to take its toll on even the toughest nurse. Being exhausted near the end of a long shift is normal. However, in a career like nursing, you must put on your nurse scrubs, put on a smile, and be at your best at all times to avoid making crucial mistakes. The following tips will provide you with some useful advice on how to survive a grueling 12 hour shift.
Eat Healthy and Avoid Caffeine
Like many workers with long shifts, some nurses will turn to caffeine or sugary foods to get a burst of energy. Unfortunately, while sugar or caffeine may help in the short term, a sharp drop in energy will soon follow and leave you feeling more exhausted than before.
Avoid this energy drop by choosing healthy, nutritious foods to fuel your body. It is also a good idea to space out your meals over the course of your shift. Instead of just eating three big meals a day, try eating smaller meals every few hours to keep your energy levels more consistent. While caffeine for the most part should be avoided, a cup of coffee near the end of a shift is good, if necessary. However, drinking too much caffeine can make it difficult to get to sleep following a long shift.
Get to Know Your Co-workers
Nobody can do everything.
During the long hours of your shift, having co-workers you can rely on is indispensable. So the first tip is to get to know the other nurses and staff that you work with. Not only will you have people to call on when you need help, making friends on your shift will help the long hours pass more quickly and significantly reduce your stress level.
Take Advantage of Your Breaks
Taking your breaks is an absolute necessity for you to be at your best on a long shift. You may be tempted to skip a break in order to work through it when your workload gets heavy. While this might let you get more work done, the quality of your work will begin to suffer.
When you take your breaks, be sure to try and relax. Have a healthy snack, take a quick nap, or just find some peace and quiet. Avoid doing paperwork or other light work during your breaks, as well.
Try and Get Some Light
If you’re working a night shift, getting enough light will help you stay awake and alert through the long hours of the early morning.
While the hospital’s lighting is mostly outside your control, try and keep your workstation brightly lit or take your breaks in a brightly lit room. Not getting enough light will make you groggy and unfocused and can lead to a condition known as Shift Work Sleep Disorder.
If you can’t get enough light or just want an additional benefit, try wearing brightly colored scrubs. Bright colors can lighten up a dreary environment and improve your mood as well as the mood of your co-workers and patients.
Keep a Clean Work Area
For many people, this is easier said than done. Keeping your work area clean and organized is even more difficult in a stressful job such as nursing. However, take a few minutes at the beginning of your shift to clean and organize your work area. This will make it easier to find what you need, reducing stress and saving time as your shift gets more chaotic.
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