Becoming a mother is a full-time job in itself. Depending on your work-life situation, you might want to consider working in a nursing field that is more flexible and offers you the balance that you need. Childcare can be a challenge for nurses, especially for moms who work 12-hour shifts.
In no particular order, here are 5 of the best nurse jobs for moms:
#1. Per diem nursing
#1. Best nurse jobs for moms: per diem nursing
To work “per diem” means to work “by the day.” Per diem nurses are essential to every hospital organization because they allow the administration to fill in gaps where they don’t have enough nurses scheduled to work. It also will enable nurses who don’t have a very flexible schedule, like new moms, to pick the exact hours and days that they can work.
Per diem nurses are often required to work a specific amount of shifts each month. As a per diem nurse myself, I am required to work a minimum of four shifts in a thirty day period. However, I can ask to work as many shifts as I want. It puts me in an excellent position to earn money- I work on all of the days that I have childcare scheduled, and I don’t have to worry about being scheduled on the days I don’t.
Also, per diem nurses are usually able to call off within a specific time frame before a shift starts. For example, if my child becomes sick 12 hours before the start of a nursing shift, and I know I will be unable to work the next day, then I can cancel myself. It leaves a lot of wiggle room for me to schedule or unschedule myself when I need to be at home with my children. Most working moms don’t have that kind of flexibility, and it helps relieve a lot of stress.
The one drawback to per diem nursing is that you are only paid on the days that you work – you don’t have an allotment of sick days. Also, if the facility does not need any additional staffing, then you might get canceled. Which might not be OK if you were depending on the money you were going to earn that day.
Why being a per diem nurse is one of the best nursing jobs for moms:
Total flexibility over work schedules
Ability to call-off at the last minute
Higher per hour pay then career nursing
#2. School Nurse
#2. Best nurse jobs for moms: school nurse
School nurses work in educational facilities, including public and private schools (K through 12). They support students and staff who become ill at work or need other kinds of medical attention.
Also, many school nurses are educators and teach various health topics to kids, such as healthy eating and the importance of physical exercise. School nurses address the physical and mental needs of students, which helps them succeed in school and sets them up for success in the future.
Becoming a school nurse is an excellent job for nurses who are mothers because you would work during regular school hours -the same hours that your children would be at school. It also means that you wouldn’t have to work weekends, night shifts, or holidays.
Many school nurses find the career rewarding because you are able to help start kids out on the right health track from their early years. Many studies show that long term health has a greater success rate when children are taught healthy habits from an early age. School-age kids are impressionable, and nurses can make a significant impact on how they take care of their health as they grow up.
Why being a school nurse is one of the best nursing jobs for moms:
Only work during regular school hours (no weekends, nights or holidays)
A rewarding career helping children develop healthy habits from a young age
Case management is another great opportunity for working moms because you can help patients through planning, care coordination, facilitation, and advocacy of patient’s medical needs. Case managers collaborate with all outside aspects of patient care to make sure the patient stays safe and gets the care they need.
According to the Case Management Society of America, “Case Management is a collaborative process of assessment, planning, facilitation, care coordination, evaluation, and advocacy for options and services to meet an individual’s and family’s comprehensive health needs through communication and available resources to promote patient safety, quality of care, and cost-effective outcomes.”
Telehealth nursing is when nurses can give nursing care, information, or advice to patients over the phone. It also helps to improve efficiency in the healthcare system and help to treat patients in remote areas who otherwise would not be able to receive care.
Telehealth nurses work in hospitals, doctors’ offices, and for corporations. It is becoming more widely used in recent years due to improvements in technology and an ncreasing need to help patients remotely.
Why telehealth is one of the best nursing jobs for moms:
Ability to work remotely from home
Able to help patients without having to work strenuous shifts in the hospital
#5. Advice Nurse
#5. Best jobs for nurses: advice nurse
When patients are not feeling well at home or have a question about a medical issue, advice nurses are used to help field questions via phone. One of the most significant benefits to patients is that it helps them determine what kind of medical care they need before they come into the hospital.
Why advice nursing is one of the best nursing jobs for moms:
Sometimes a work from home position
Less strenuous then 12-hour work shifts at the hospital
Ability to help patients remotely
There are so many alternative nurse careers for nurses who are moms. In fact, that is one of the best reasons to become a nurse – the nursing profession offers so many unique career opportunities that other professions simply do not.
Take care of your family first, and fit your nursing career in a way that serves your family best. Good luck!
Per diem is a Latin term that means “by the day.” A per diem nurse is a nurse who is employed “by the day,” or as needed by a medical facility.
What is a PRN nurse?
PRN is a Latin term for pro re nata, which translates in English to “as the situation demands.” Both “per diem nurse” and “PRN nurse” have essentially the same meaning and can be used interchangeably.
Whether your nursing job title is per diem nurse or PRN nurse, it means you only work when that institution has additional staffing needs that they cannot fill with their own “career” nursing staff. With the increasing demands of today’s healthcare environment – and the fact that patients are living longer (and are often sicker) than ever before – per diem, or PRN nurses are in high demand.
*Post contains affiliate links
About per diem/ PRN nursing
Most hospitals have their own unit of staffed per diem nurses. These nurses may be assigned to one particular unit in a hospital or can be resource nurses who cover many different specialties within the hospital setting (as long as they are trained to do so). Hospital staffing needs usually increase during holiday seasons or during times of high census in the hospital (such as during the COVID-19 pandemic).
In addition, there are nurse staffing agencies that set up outside nurses to work in hospitals that have additional staffing needs. These nurses work for “per diem nursing agencies” and may end up working in a variety of facilities. Often, these nurses might work a few shifts at one hospital, and then a shift in another facility, all in one week.
Per diem (or PRN) nurse vs. full-time nursing: what should I choose?
Most nurses work full time, at least for their first few years after graduating from nursing school. Novice nurses need to put the time in and develop their clinical and critical thinking skills. It takes many years to build up nursing expertise at the bedside, which is why I would never recommend that a new grad nurse work per diem. If you are considering per diem as a nursing avenue for your career, make sure that you are experienced enough to manage the stress of working in many different working environments.
As a per diem nurse myself, I have found many benefits to working per diem that I would not have had if I was working as a “staff” or “career” nurse. If you are teetering on making a change into the per diem nursing environment, these are benefits of working as a per diem, or PRN, nurse.
Benefits of being a per diem/PRN nurse:
#1. Higher pay then a career nurse
Per diem nurses are usually paid more money per hour than regular staff because they generally do not receive benefits, and do not have set hours.
Some states pay more per hour than others. California, for example, is known for having a higher hourly wage than many states with a lower cost-of-living, like South Dakota or Illinois. Per diem nurses in California have even been known to make over 15K or more in a single paycheck by working multiple days in a row, and taking advantage of overtime pay!
#2. You can make your own nursing schedule
One of the most significant benefits of working per diem is that you can choose precisely when you want to work. As a working mom, it makes it much less stressful to know that you won’t be scheduled during a time you don’t have child care.
#3. Per diem nurses can pick up seasonal work
There are times of the year when more nurses are needed to meet staffing needs, such as flu season or summer time. During the current COVID-19 global crisis, there are many hospitals with increased staffing needs in coronavirus “hot spots,” such as New York City and Seattle, where some of the first clusters were found. Per diem nurses who are willing to be flexible and work in new facilities have the opportunity to work more often.
Unlike career nurses, who often do not have complete control of their schedules, per diem nurses can choose to decline shifts if they don’t jive with your schedule. This means that if you don’t want to work nights, holidays, or weekends, you usually don’t have to.
#5. Have the possibility to add on a shift at the last minute
Some per diem nurses work for two different hospitals at the same time. Therefore, if they end up getting canceled to work at one hospital, they can call the staffing office at their other hospital to see if they have any nursing needs. Often, they do, and you can work that day and not lose income.
#6. Cancel a shift the last minute
Working parents understand the need for flexible scheduling. If your child (or yourself) become ill the day or two before a per diem shift, then you have an opportunity to cancel yourself ahead of time. You don’t need to worry about whether or not you have a vacation or sick time saved up.
#7. Opportunity to cross-train in different specialties
Per diem nurses, often have additional learning and educational opportunities because they get new opportunities to cover many specialties.
For example, a per diem emergency room nurse, who also floats to ICU units, might also be able to cross-train for a PACU unit they have staffing needs. Here is another example: a per diem NICU nurse, might be cross-trained for post-partum or antepartum units if they needed additional nursing support.
Nurses who can be flexible and open to additional learning opportunities may find that they have more opportunities than ever to work. When you have experience working in several different nursing specialties, then you have a decreased chance of being canceled and not making any money that day. Per diem nursing can provide nurses with increased job stability and add valuable work experience for your resume.
#8. Build vacation time right into your schedule without taking time off
For per diem nurses, there is no need to put in vacation time, because it is possible to build vacation time right into your schedule.
For example, full-time nurses often work three 12-hour shifts a week. You can schedule yourself to work on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday one week, and then on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of the next week. That leaves you with eight days off in-between your shifts to hop on a plane for a week’s vacation.
#9. Working per diem is a great way to keep your license active
Many nurses who only want to work part-time, appreciate the option to work as a per diem nurse. Whether you have small children at home or you have other side careers that you are persuing, per diem nursing allows you to have that flexibility without altogether leaving the bedside, or your profession, behind.
As nurses get closer to retirement, some may choose to work a little less and spend more quality time with grandchildren. If that is the case, then per diem, nursing is a great option. You can keep your foot in the nursing industry, keep your skills and knowledge sharp, continue to bring in some income, while also having time to dedicate to the other passions in your life.
I hope this article helped you clarify whether or not being a per diem or PRN nurse is right for you. There are many factors to consider, but it is wonderful to work in a profession where this type of work environment is possible. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.
*This post about compassion fatigue in nursing may contain affiliate links. You can find our disclosure page here.
I first realized that I was experiencing compassion fatigue as a nurse after only two years in the profession.
That’s correct. After only TWO YEARS, I was already feeling overstressed, exhausted, and cynical about my career.
When my mind finally wrapped itself around this understanding, I thought I’ve barely graduated with my BSN, and I’m ALREADY burned out? How am I going to continue in the nursing profession for an entire career?
I was frustrated, confused, and, to be honest, a little heartbroken. I was passionate about helping others, and I did enjoy the mental stimulation that I got as a nurse. But I couldn’t figure out how there were nurses on our unit who had been doing the same thing for the last 5, 10 or even 20 years. Didn’t they feel the same way?
Lately, I have spoken with a lot of nurses about their experiences with compassion fatigue. The truth of the matter is that most, if not all, nurses feel spent and exhausted at some point throughout their careers.
What is compassion fatigue in nursing?
Simply put, compassion fatigue is the gradual lessening of compassion over time due to extreme caregiver stress and overwork. Compassion fatigue in nursing is also almost always tied to the chronic stress that comes with working 12-hour shifts, which can be very physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging, even on a good day.
Unfortunately, compassion fatigue is prevalent in the nursing profession. But with awareness and the willingness to make a change, it is possible to overcome this chronic, stressful state and learn to thrive within your nursing career again.
Here are seven tips to help deal with compassion fatigue in nursing:
1. Find a better work-life balance
Are you rotating days and nights? Constantly working overtime? Or maybe just working too many hours per week?
That may work for a while, but it is not a very good long term plan. Everyone needs a break, especially nurses.
Consider taking a vacation (or stay-cation) and plan a few solid days of “me” time. A little TLC can go a long way. You simply can’t continue to take good care of others before taking care of yourself first.
One of the best things a nurse can do to help prevent nurse burnout is to take good care of themselves. Often this notion is counter-intuitive to nurses because the nature of their job is to put others’ needs in front of their own continually. Ask yourself, what do I need to be healthy? Here are a few suggestions:
Compassion fatigue and nurse burnout are so common among nurses. Left unchecked, they can lead to mistakes, unhappiness, or even depression.
Share your nursing compassion fatigue struggles with a close comrade from work who can empathize with your effort. If that doesn’t help, consider talking to a trusted mentor, a therapist, or find a career coach that can help you work your way out of nurse burnout.
Nurses are self-giving creatures by nature, but we must give to our own needs as well. Crawl out of your shell and start talking it out.
6. Find an outlet
What do you do on your days off that may you happy? If you don’t have a stress-relieving outlet, then its time to find one.
Is your inner artist craving a creative outlet, such as painting, designing, or even scrapbooking? Does a day on the golf course or an afternoon on the tennis court bring you joy? Maybe you have been so busy that you have forgotten how wonderfully distracting it can be to become enveloped into an activity that you love to do.
Research has shown that finding a joyful outlet can enhance your mood, increase energy, lower stress levels, and even make your immune system stronger. Find out what makes you happy outside of the nursing profession.
7. Consider new options
Do don’t have to stay in the same place throughout your entire career. If fact, one of the greatest benefits of becoming a nurse is that there are so many types of nursing careers out there.
Have an honest discussion with yourself about your career. Are you a med/Surg nurse who has always dreamed of working in the ICU? Or maybe you are an ER nurse with interest in becoming a flight nurse. A change in specialty might be what you need to tackle your compassion fatigue as a nurse.
On another note, nurses don’t have to work in a hospital. Perhaps working in a dermatology office or as a home healthcare nurse would be a better fit. There are so many nursing careers to choose from. The sky is the limit. Find your passion!
(This post about nurse burnout prevention products contains affiliate links. You can find our disclosure page here.)
Nursing is not a career for the faint of heart. Humans are living longer with more chronic conditions, and nurses are working hard to care for more and more patients. But despite the many challenges, for most of us, nursing is a calling. We chose this profession so that we could help patients during the most challenging times in their lives.
But who is responsible for taking care of nurses?
The truth is, being a nurse is not for the faint of heart. It is an extremely physical and emotional career, and nurses deal with stressful situations such as traumatic accidents, chronic illnesses, demanding patients and families, and even death. We’ve pretty much seen it all and then some.
After all, they don’t say that nurses are on the front line of healthcare for nothing!
Nurse burnout prevention has never been so important.
Nurse burnout prevention needs to be a bigger priority in the profession. Nurses don’t want to also end up as patients too, but due to lack of time for self-care, it happens.
Fortunately, there are ways that nurses can help to rectify some of the wear-and-tear that we do to our bodies. By taking care of ourselves first, we can continue to give great attention to our patients and their families.
Stress in the workplace is not going to get easier for many nurses, especially those at the bedside. Now is the time to put your health needs first.
And you can start by giving yourself a little TLC on your days off.
Helpful nurse burnout prevention products to help manage nursing stress:
These are items I have personally tried, either at work during a 12-hour shift or at home. Using some of these nurse burnout relief products during and after a 12-hour shift has made a world of difference in how I feel. I hope these items help you de-stress and take better care of yourself as well.
How sore are your back, neck, and feet after a busy 12-hour shift? The Body Back Buddy is a big winner when it comes to loosening up during and after a busy shift.
I was introduced to the Body Back Buddy by a co-worker of mine in the emergency department where I work. He brought it to work with him as a way to help him loosen his muscles during his night shifts. At first glance, it looks a little silly, but when he showed me how to use it, I couldn’t believe how great it felt on my neck and back.
It didn’t take long for other nurses to ask if they could use it, mostly out of curiosity. But it did help loosen up my neck and back and felt amazing on my pressure points.
I liked it so much that I ordered one that day and have been using it at home several times a week ever since. This is a fantastic product for long- term nurse burnout prevention.
During National Nurses Week in 2019, I tried this cordless neck, shoulder, and back massager during my lunch break in the staff room. I liked it because it stays around the muscles you put it on and doesn’t move around like many self massagers. It also isn’t very loud and applies just the right amount of pressure to the muscles.
This device is excellent to use during breaks or after a shift at the hospital. It also doesn’t require much effort to use, which makes it uniquely relaxing. And it is cordless so that you can use it anywhere.
Cordless & hands-free design: equipped with a built-in rechargeable battery that lasts up to 100 minutes on a full charge.
Advanced heating: The infrared heat provides necessary warmness to ease muscle tension, stress, and promote blood circulation. It can be turned off manually, but will also shut itself off after 15 minutes of using (to prevent overheating).
Full-body relaxation and pain relief: comes with eight big nodes and eight small nodes, which provides deep tissue massages on your neck, shoulders, upper back, lower back, waist, foot, tights, calves, legs, feet and arms
Adjustable intensity and two massage directions: The massagers for neck and back cordless have three adjustable intensity levels, which allow you to get suitable pressure to relieve your muscle pain. And the body massager has built-in bi-directional movement control, which also auto-reverses every minute
Meditation has changed my life for the better, especially as a stressed-out nurse. Before I started meditating regularly, I used to have semi-regular anxiety attacks!
The Muse Brain Sending Headband is for someone ready to take their meditation practice to the next level. If you do not already practice meditation, I wouldn’t even recommend purchasing this device. (However, if you want to find a helpful way to find stress relief as a nurse I do highly recommend developing your meditation practice).
Many studies have shown benefits from regular meditation, including reduced stress, lowered blood pressure, increased focus and energy, and improved performance in many areas. And, as nurses, we can use all the stress reduction we can get!
Here is how it works:The headband fits across the front of your forehead and wraps around your ears. A metal strip can detect electrical brainwaves. When specific brainwaves are very active, the weather noise increases. As you calm your mind, the weather noise grows fainter and — here is the genius of the device — if you are very calm for several seconds, you can hear birds chirping. In the end, you get a graph of your performance and a score.
Makes meditation easy– is like a personal meditation assistant
Muse will guide you to a calm mind: Sometimes your mind is calm, and sometimes it’s active – Muse will teach you to recognize a quiet mind and help you get there
Allows you to immerse yourself in meditation: Put on the Muse headband, plug in your earbuds or headphones, start the app, and close your eyes. Immerse yourself within the sounds of a beach or rain forest
Real-time tracking and feedback: While you meditate, Muse measures whether your mind is calm or active, and translates that data into weathers sounds
You can review data after each session: After each session, review your data, set goals, and build an enriching meditation practice that gets better every time
Like many other nurses, I carry most of my internalized stress in my neck and shoulders. This, combined with too much computer work and lifting and pulling patients, often leaves my neck in knots, and sometimes the pain keeps me from being able to relax completely.
For the longest time, I used a regular old heating pad on my neck and back- but the one I had didn’t conform well to my body. So one day, I was looking through Amazon for something to help my neck and back pain, and I came across the Huggaroo.
The design is versatile; if I don’t want it on my back, I fold it up, so it’s concentrated on my neck, and I also like to put in on my chest, almost like a weighted blanket. The quality is excellent, and the fabric is plush but durable. It’s a frequently used staple in our house. I also take it with me when I travel as well!
Melts away pain, tension, and stress with heat, soothing aromatherapy, and deep pressure stimulation
The perfect heating pad for cramps, neck pain relief or joint pain relief
Use as a cold compress to alleviate migraine headaches or a cold pack to soothe strains or a fever
Huggaroo is a market leader, featured in Forbes, Women’s Health, Inc, Parade, Reader’s Digest, etc.
Nurse burnout prevention is possible and we need to manage our stress better, so we don’t end up as patients ourselves. By setting aside a little time every day to relax and de-stress, you will be a happier, healthier nurse and better role model for patients.
After all, everybody wins when nurses are taken care of too!!
As s a nurse I have been exposed to so many stressful situations. I’ve been cussed at by angry patients (more times then I can count), swung at, kicked, had a full urinal thrown at me, been exposed to, been in the middle of dozens of violent patient situations and take-downs, and been the victim of nurse bullying.
In addition, I see other nurses being treated poorly from patients, family members, doctors and even sometimes other nurses. In fact, it’s not even unusual. And, like other nurses, I am expected to continue giving compassionate patient care without regard to my own well being.
This sacrificial attitude of putting myself last on a very long spectrum of compassionate care is just not going to cut it anymore. The thought of spending an entire career with this amount of wear-and-tear is frightening. Something has to give before I completely fizzle and burn to a crisp.
Nurses need to have compassion for themselves too.
I came out of nursing school with equal parts compassion and adrenaline to save lives and make a positive difference in the world! In fact, I left a very lucrative 10 year medical equipment sales career so I could do just that. I was determined to advocate for and serve my patients to the best of my ability. Compassion was one of my greatest strengths.
As an overachiever for most of my life I have always maintained the attitude that I can do anything as long as I try hard enough. And now, after 7 years as a registered nurse, I am discovering that I am failing at the one thing that actually defines a great nurse: compassion.
The nurse burnout is real.
What I am currently experiencing is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion that is more extreme than anything that I have ever experienced in my adult life. I started my nursing career with the determination to give amazing patient care and here I am, 7 years later, losing my compassion.
(And just so you know – this has been hard for me to acknowledge because I have been a “yes” person my entire life.)
There is beauty in the breakdown.
My nursing burnout amplified after the birth of my first child in 2015. Then, it got even worse after my second child in 2018. In fact, I started writing regularly again out of desperation to find an outlet for the exhaustion and overwhelming fatigue I was feeling as a nurse and new mom. My goal was to find more effective ways to take better care of myself and make my life a little easier. And it actually has helped me find a little reprieve.
But most importantly, it has opened my eyes to the fact that I need to make some huge changes in my life. Most of all, I need to find my compassion again. But this time I am unapologetically focusing my compassion on myself, first.
So, in light of this discovery, I am 100% accepting and honoring these uncomfortable feelings. I am using them as a catalyst to make changes in my professional and personal life. My mental and physical pain will be an opportunity for growth and finding self-compassion.
I rarely take the time to do nothing and reflect. This is a good year for more of that.
I am on a mission for self-compassion.
You know how when you fly in an airplane, there is the safety warning before take-off? Passengers are instructed to put the oxygen mask on themselves first, then help others around them. Because if you pass out from lack of oxygen, you’re not helpful to anyone!
So, here is me putting the oxygen mask on myself first. Some of the changes I am making are professional and some are personal. But they are all things I have been wanting to do for a really long time but haven’t because I was thinking about others’ needs before my own.
Here are my new personal nurse self-care and self-compassion goals:
#1. Work two 12 hour shifts a week instead of three
This one is hard for me because it equates to a significant decrease in pay (and I really like money!). With two toddler age children, child care is our biggest expense (besides housing) and it’s not going away any time soon. But fortunately, we are in a position to afford it for the time being and I want to use the extra day off to spend more one-on-one time with my adorable babies.
In addition, since most hospital shifts are 12 to 13 hours I don’t get to see my children at all on the days that I work. I am also staying away from working back-to-back shifts because I just don’t want to be away from my children for more than one day at a time.
#2. Work fewer holidays and as few weekends as possible
After I had children I really hated having to work on holidays. I have missed so many birthdays, Easters, 4th of Julys, Thanksgivings, Christmas and New Years to be working at the hospital. At some point, I started to resent missing that time with my family. Working on holidays is the norm for many nurses, and I expect to work some. But since I will be working a little less anyway this will also equate to working fewer holidays as well. The same goes for weekends.
Self Care for nurses is more important now than ever.
#3. Continue working per diem
There are a lot of benefits and drawbacks to being a per diem nurse. For example, I love that I can schedule myself to work on the exact days I WANT to work. However, it also means that if I am not needed then I get canceled at 0400 and then I don’t make any money for that day. And since I end up paying for a nanny regardless, that’s a double whammy.
The best part of being a per diem nurse is that it offers me a much better work-life balance. When I worked as a career nurse it was almost impossible for me to secure childcare because my work schedule was always changing. Some weeks I got the schedule I needed and others I didn’t. So on the whole, being a per diem nurse is the right choice for me and my family.
#4. Continue writing and growing my website to help other nurse moms
In 2016 I became a nurse blogger. My venture was born out of my frustration with burnout as a registered nurse and my desire to create a more flexible work-life balance. Writing about nurse lifestyle topics that interest me and exploring ways that nurses can take better care of themselves helps me to take care of myself better too.
My little blog is even starting to make a small monthly income, which absolutely thrills me. I have a dream that if I keep working hard my website will make enough money that I can work one day a week instead of two.
#5. Take a comprehensive course in website management and blogging
Last week I signed up for a comprehensive blogging course that will probably take me the next 6-8 months to complete. I honestly haven’t been more excited to do something for myself like this in a really long time. In fact, I can’t wait to see my progress over the next year!
#6. Explore other medical-related career options
A few weeks ago I interviewed for an aesthetic sales position. Although I didn’t end up working for the company, it did open my eyes to the fact that there are so many other great opportunities that I could be interested in and also fit my skill set as a nurse. A nursing practice can take many forms and I am giving myself permission to continue learning about other nursing career options.
#7. Focus more energy into my family and friends
One of my New Years resolutions this year was to “choose fun.” So many studies have shown that spending quality time with family and friends is incredibly helpful in decreasing stress and improving burnout symptoms. Since I will be working a little less I will have more time to focus my energy on the people who matter most to me.
#8. Enjoy my new fancy gym membership (with childcare on site!)
In the spirit of investing more in myself, I started 2019 off with a gym membership. It has been a complete game-changer for me. In fact, the old me would never have never splurged on a fancy gym membership. Making regular time to work out always makes me feel great, clears my head and gives me more stamina. And my 1 year old loves the Kid’s Club, so it’s a win-win.
As a nurse and mom, my life basically revolves around caring for everyone else, and I am SO GRATEFUL to be able to do that. But if there is one thing I have learned through my own compassion fatigue it is that I need to put the same care into myself as I do into my patients and family. So in the spirit of self-compassion, I am metaphorically putting on my oxygen mask first, before helping those around me.
#9. Practice more yoga
I have been regularly practicing yoga for 14 years. Finally, in 2o15 I completed Yoga Works’ 4 month Urban Zen Integrative Therapy program for medical professionals. I learned how to teach simple yoga, do guided meditation and perform Reiki. It was amazing!
However, in recent years I have not been practicing as much as I would like, and that is going to change. My goal is to incorporate yoga into my busy schedule every single day. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes. Yoga helps me stay balanced in times of great stress, gives me flexibility (both physically and mentally) and has been extremely grounding. In fact, I recently started teaching my 3-year-old daughter a series of yoga poses and it is bringing us both great joy!
These two are already happy about self-care goal #1: Work two 12 hour shifts a week instead of three. Job flexibility has never been so important to me.
Nurse self-care matters. If we don’t care for ourselves then how can we expect patients to listen to our health advice and education? I am taking this opportunity to give myself compassion and hopefully lead others by example.
If other nurses find themselves feeling as unappreciated and burnt out as me I encourage them to find ways to care for themselves first. Otherwise, we are perpetuating a broken system that does not acknowledge that nursing burnout is a real issue and ignoring nurse health and well being.
So nurse, what are you going to do to take care of yourself today? Leave a comment!
(This post about simple stress management for nurses may contain affiliate links. See our disclosure page for more information.)
Nurses are more stressed-out than ever.
It is no surprise that prolonged stress damages the body. Yet many nurses are dealing with unchecked, chronic stress for years, or even decades. Still, the passion that many nurses have for helping others drives them to continue forward in their nursing careers. But who is helping nurses?
The unfortunate truth is that nurses themselves are the ones who must take care of themselves first. Nurse safety and well-being are not being taken seriously by the very own hospitals where we work so hard and strive to give only the very best patient care. Nationwide, it appears that hospital administrator’s main priority is making money for the hospital, and the health and well-being of their nurses doesn’t even make the list.
Simple stress management for nurses
Do some hospitals see nurses as indispensable?
For some nurses, it may feel like it. Even I have felt that despite my own dependability, clinical knowledge, and positive attitude that it wouldn’t matter in the slightest if I left. The feeling is disheartening.
For example, I became a per diem nurse after the birth of my first child because a unit director stated that they were “unable” to give me consistent scheduling so I could plan daycare for my child. Per diem nursing gives me the flexibility to schedule my days to fit my childcare situation; however, now I have no benefits, no disability, no retirement, and no maternity leave – and I had another baby this year! Needless to say, it was a hyper-expensive year for us and caused a lot of stress for me.
But, they knew another nurse would come along and fill my spot. So why be flexible with my schedule so that I could stay?
I still have a passion for nursing, despite the stress.
Workplace stress in nursing is common. I am not leaving the profession soon because my children are still very small, and I still do have a strong desire and passion for helping others. So in the meantime, I make stress management a huge priority in my life.
If you are a nurse who feels like me, keep an eye out for nurse burnout symptoms that could be wreaking havoc on your overall health and happiness. And start taking simple steps to help keep stress in check, so you don’t end up as a patient yourself. Nurses shouldn’t be creating unhealthy habits to cope with their stressful nursing careers. And if it becomes too much where your health is severely being affected negatively, then consider other nursing options away from the bedside. Nurse, you need to take care of yourself first!
Simple Stress Management Techniques For Nurses:
1. Watch a funny movie
When was the last time you had a good laugh? Do you even remember how good it feels to laugh out loud? Watching a funny movie is a great way to passively tune out and focus on something more light-hearted. Especially for nurses who deal with immense stress in the workplace.
Studies show that laughter is so good for your health. A good laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after. Also, laughter increases your immune system by decreasing stress hormones and increasing immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
Laughter makes people feel good, which is precisely what stressed-out nurses need. It releases endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Studies show that laughter has the power to promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
2. Get moving: endorphins are natural stress reducers
Get your heart rate up on your days off! The benefits of exercise have been well documented is essential for nurse self-care. It is no secret that regular exercise helps control weight, boosts overall energy, improves your mood, and helps decrease stress levels. Not only does exercise benefit the nurse personally, but it also allows nurses to have the stamina to give better care to patients as well.
Need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A brisk 30-minute walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. Which, in turn, will help manage caregiver burden and help you feel your best.
3. Yoga: learn the art of how to relax
Yoga is a great stress management tool for nurses. Compassion fatigue can be overwhelming for nurses, and learning how to use yoga for relaxation can help.
A study published in Workplace Health & Safety on yoga for self-care and burnout prevention of nurses found that yoga participants “reported significantly higher self-care as well as less emotional exhaustion upon completion of an 8-week yoga intervention.” While the control group demonstrated no change throughout the course of the study, the yoga group showed a significant improvement in scores for self-care, mindfulness, and emotional exhaustion outcomes.
Nurse self-care in the form of yoga is scientifically proven to be beneficial:
Stress management. A study published in the National Institute of Biotechnology Information investigated the effects of yoga on stress coping strategies of ICU nurses. After only eight weeks of yoga, the results showed that the participating ICU nurses had significantly better focus coping strategies and a significant reduction in perceived mental pressure. (If that is what can happen after only eight weeks, imagine the impact a regular, permanent yoga practice could have on stress management levels!).
Prevent or eliminate chronic low back pain. Chronic back pain in the nursing population is a common ailment. An evidenced-based review at the Texas Women’s University reported that estimates of chronic low back pain among nurses range from 50%-80%. Yoga not only increases flexibly but increases muscle strength and prevents injuries such as chronic lower back pain.
Good friends can help you manage chronic stress. It is essential to find balance when you work as a nurse, and that includes making time for friendships and a social life outside of the hospital.
Nurses with strong social support have a reduced risk of many significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure, and an unhealthy body mass index. Talking with other nurses who are struggling with the same stressors, you are can help provide support when you need it most.
Having a good social support group can help in many other ways:
Increase your sense of belonging and purpose as a nurse
Boost your happiness and reduce your stress
Improve your self-confidence and self-worth
Help you cope with traumatic situations in the workplace, such as patient deaths and abusive or combative patient situations
Supportive friendships can encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise
Meditation is the practice of focusing your mind on a particular thought or activity to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state. It is claimed to reduce stress, anxiety, and burnout, and enhance resilience. And stressed-out nurses working long, arduous shifts with often changing schedules need this more than anyone.
A few benefits of meditation:
Better focus and ability to ignore distractions
Happier state of mind
Headspace is an app for your phone that has many different meditations, each lasting 10 to 60 minutes. If you can find 10 minutes in your day, then you have no excuse not to meditate! Meditation is attainable for even the busiest of nurses!
Like yoga, meditation is a practice. There is no good or bad. It is just what it is at the time. You can keep practicing to train your mind to do better the next time. And then eventually your brain is rewired by the habitual repetition of meditation, and it becomes easier.
It is not uncommon for hospitals to have a space for spiritual prayer or meditation for patients and their families. However, nurses should also be offered a meditative space to clear their heads and have a quiet moment to themselves. This would help nurses return to their work environments with renewed energy and focus on giving better patient care.
6. Eat nutritious foods
Nurse break rooms are notorious for having sugary snacks like donuts, cookies, or other unhealthy junk food all within an arms reach. Sweets are so tempting to nibble on when you are tired and need a little extra energy. But then a few moments later you crash and are even more tired. On another note, eating nutritious and easy snacks will keep you energized during a 12-hour shift.
Pack snacks like these in your lunch bag to help keep your blood sugar levels balanced during your shift:
Baby carrots, broccoli or other veggies & hummus
Celery and almond butter
Granola and yogurt
Almonds or cashews
Sliced apples and peanut butter
Cottage cheese with pineapple or banana
Tips for nurses to make healthy meals fast: Try making a big batch of quinoa, brown rice, or black bean pasta to have handy in the fridge. These are a few great staples that you can build a nourishing meal around. When you get hungry, you can mix in a protein, veggies, nuts or seeds, dried fruits, or even just enjoy them with a little olive oil and sea salt. The key is to have healthy food that is easy to prepare BEFORE you get super hungry.
P.S. HEY, NURSES! Remember to grab your FREE E-Book “The Nurse’s Guide To Health & Self Care” below! (scroll down)