Long hours, with the inherent risk of on-the-job nursing injuries, are no surprise. While it may not be your favorite aspect of the profession, it’s an acknowledged reality that comes with the commitment to nursing, something you’re aware of well before embarking on your nursing school journey.
For some nurses it’s part of the job that you deal with because you love what you do. For others, the longer hours mean that you get more days off and more time to recover between those long shifts.
No matter what your reason for working them, when you’re in the ninth hour of a 12-hour shift, it can seem like the day will never end.
Here are some tips for making those long shifts seem a little more bearable.
Take your break away from your unit when possible
Sometimes it may seem easier to take your break at the nurses’ station. But leaving the unit, even just for a short walk while you grab a snack can help you refresh your body and your mind.
When you get away from the unit, you give yourself a moment to get out of “work mode” which can be very stressful. While it may not seem stressful because it’s just a normal part of the day, your brain is staying in the alerted state while you’re near your work station.
Taking a moment to step away, both mentally and physically, can give your brain and body the opportunity to recover some strength to make it through the next few hours of your shift. It’s the small breaks that will help you make it through the last couple hours of a long shift.
Consider what you put on your feet
Sure, you know you need to wear comfortable and supportive shoes. But did you know you should be replacing those shoes every 6-9 months? Replacing your shoes regularly will help make sure that you are able to take advantage of the cushioning in the shoe as well as prevent slips when the treads start to wear down.
You may also want to consider wearing compression socks. The socks that you ask your post-op patients to wear can be just as beneficial for you to keep your feet and legs from getting fatigued on a long shift.
Stretch and snack
Not only do you know that you need to take care of your body, you can give a detailed explanation on why and what happens if you don’t. But as a nurse, shifts are busy and your patients need you. And sometimes taking care of what you need can’t be a priority.
These are the times where small things make a big difference. Try keeping a snack in your scrubs pocket so you can refuel quickly. Also, taking a couple minutes to stretch before and during your shift can help the long hours seem like less of a chore.