As a mom and a nurse, you don’t need me to tell you that you have a lot on your plate. The pressure is higher than ever, and the stress of twelve-hour shifts can really begin to take its toll on your physical and mental health. That’s why, even as the world puts greater demands on our attention, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself in little ways.
Here are a few helpful ways nurses can relax after a shift:
The human brain is wired for routine. We see this in the way we form habits and the way our circadian rhythm makes us tired at the same time every night. So if you find it difficult to unwind after shifts, starting a post-shift relaxation ritual may help trick your brain into calming down. For example, if after every shift you make it a point to do two or three relaxing things, such as go for a jog and then take a shower, relaxing will become more habitual.
Create a Space in Your Home
If coming home means messes to clean up and tasks to complete, decompressing after a shift isn’t as easy it could be. Creating a dedicated spot in your home for relaxing can help you get to the place where you can unwind. It can be as simple as putting things in a bedroom or office that calm you, like your favorite candles, a scent diffuser, or a massage chair. Whatever your “spot” looks like, try to keep work out of it so your brain only associates it with relaxation.
No matter how long you’ve been in this career, the things that you see from day to day can be wearying. It’s important to take even a few minutes to process what happened at the end of a shift in order to deal with the emotions they may have caused. For some, this may mean meditation or journaling; for others, this may mean talking about the events of the day with a friend or loved one.
Unplug From Work
It can be easy to dwell on all that occurred in a shift, especially if it was a challenging event. However, once you’ve processed the events of a shift, as difficult as it is, you need to focus attention back on your own life, whether that’s laughing with your kids, going for a run, or spending time doing a hobby you love.
It’s easy to take unwinding after work for granted, especially when you have a hundred other things to do once you get home. But finding ways to relax after a shift is more than kicking up your feet. Nursing is a beautiful, selfless occupation, but we don’t want it to rob you of your ability to live the other parts of your life, and we don’t want you to be robbed of the ability to do it.
Additional recommended reading: Working Mom Heth Tips For 12-Hour Shifts