Being a nurse is hard. The hours are often grueling, and spending all of that time on your feet running from one patient to the next takes a serious toll on the body. While there is certainly nothing easy about being a nurse, there are things you can do to make your shift go a bit more smoothly.
Whether you are brand new to nursing or you are a seasoned pro, there are always opportunities to learn new ways to do your job more efficiently. Keep scrolling to discover a few things you can do to make your nursing shift easier.
Get Plenty of Sleep Before Your Shift
Making your workday easier begins long before the start of your shift. As a nurse, you likely work long, irregular hours, and getting enough rest can be difficult. Being well-rested is extremely important, though, so it’s crucial to create and stick to a regular sleep schedule. You probably need between seven and eight hours of sleep each night.
If you have trouble getting that much shuteye, try to make your bedroom more conducive for sleeping. Keep it dark and cool, and keep electronics out of the room. If you work nights, consider installing light-blocking curtains to make your sleeping area darker.
If you’re having trouble sleeping because of noises beyond your control, invest in a good set of earplugs or a white noise machine. Avoid turning on a television or radio for background noise, as they can distract you when you are trying to fall asleep.
Eat and Drink Well
Enjoy a healthy meal before your shift, and be sure to bring (or buy) a nutritious lunch. Avoid foods that make you tired. You may also want to skip the fast food and heavy meals in favor of foods that are lighter and more nutrient-rich. Choose easy-to-digest foods such as vegetables, fruits, complex carbohydrates, and dairy products. If possible, plan on eating several small snacks throughout your shift to keep yourself full and alert.
Avoid sugary snacks and drinks. They may give you a temporary energy boost, but, once that boost wears off, you’ll feel worse. Remember to stay hydrated throughout your shift. Water is your best option. Be sure to sip on it throughout your shift, but decrease your intake later in the day so you won’t be going to the restroom all night.
Limit Your Caffeine Intake
It sounds counterintuitive, but consuming too much caffeine can make your day more difficult. It’s one thing to enjoy a cup of coffee when starting your day and to sip on another when you’re feeling the sluggish part way through your shift. If you are constantly refilling your mug or reaching for another soda, though, all of the caffeine you’re consuming could be doing more harm than good.
Consuming excessive amounts of caffeine can lead to numerous problems. It can make you anxious, raise your blood pressure and heart rate, and lead to digestive issues. Consuming too much can also make it difficult for you to get the rest you need after you finish your shift.
Feel free to use caffeine on occasion when you are needing a boost, but avoid using it as a crutch to try to make it through your shift. Also, avoid using caffeine for roughly four hours before you plan on going to bed, to ensure that it won’t interfere with your ability to sleep.
Dress for Success
What you wear to work can have a major impact on how your day goes. Layout your favorite scrubs before you go to bed. If you don’t have any that you absolutely love, consider investing in a few new sets of scrubs that are comfortable and durable. Make sure the scrubs you choose have plenty of pockets so you’ll have room to carry everything you need for your shift. Having everything with you is much easier than constantly needing to run back and forth for supplies.
Since you probably spend most of your shift on your feet, always be sure to wear comfortable nursing shoes. Investing in a pair of high-quality shoes that provide excellent support enables you to power through your shift without the pain and fatigue that comes from wearing inappropriate footwear.
Stay Organized and Communicate with Your Team
For nurses, staying organized can be difficult because they are always on the go. However, lack of organization can make your day more difficult than it needs to be. Plan to arrive at work early so you have time to review the schedule and check your patients’ files to find out what they need. Prioritize what needs to be done, and start by handling the most important issues first.
Healthcare involves many, many people. Communicating with the other members of your team helps ensure that everyone is on the same page, and doing so can make your shift much easier. Take the time to review progress reports and patient files, and ask questions as needed. Show up in time to attend briefings, too, so you know everything you need to know at the beginning of your shift. Organization and communication ensure that you have everything you need and know what you need to know in order to breeze through your shift.
The Bottom Line
There is no such thing as an “easy” shift as a nurse. There are, however, days that are easier than others. By following the tips outlined above, it is often possible to eliminate common challenges like disorganization, fatigue, pain, etc. Take the time to take care of your body, and do your best to stay informed and on top of your game.
Nursing is hard work, but you don’t have to make it harder on yourself. You may not be able to avoid all of the challenges that pop up during the day, but, with the tips listed above, you can be better prepared to handle any of the difficulties that come your way.