Nursing is a physically demanding job, and while nurses do their best to keep patients as happy and comfortable as possible, they often neglect their own comfort as a result. Working 12-hour shifts or picking up doubles can take its toll on your body. So, nurses need to practice a little self-care and take steps to ensure they’re as comfortable as they can be. Here are some tips to help you stay comfortable on those long nursing shifts.
Take care of your feet. Nurses spend the vast majority of shifts on their feet, and veteran nurses know how important it is to have the proper footwear. Find a pair of shoes that offers good support and is comfortable to wear. You should also consider wearing compression socks or stockings that use pressure to help maintain strong blood flow and reduce painful swelling or other discomfort.
Also, consider changing your shoes midway through your shift. Different shoe designs create different pressure points on your feet. So even if you can’t get off your feet, just changing shoes can make a big difference in your comfort level.
Fuel up and stay hydrated. With the physical demands of the job, nurses expend a lot of energy each shift. You’ll need to recharge and refuel to keep feeling your best. Make sure to eat healthy food throughout the shift to keep your energy levels high. Just try not to overdo it. Large meals can leave you feeling sluggish and lead to an energy crash later in your shift. Instead, experts recommend you bring healthy snacks to work and eat small portions more consistently throughout the shift.
You also need to make sure you’re drinking enough water during your shift. Being dehydrated can quickly lead to headaches and prevents your other bodily systems from working at peak performance.
We know the importance of eating healthy and drinking enough water is nothing new for nurses who give that advice to patients almost daily. But sometimes even nurses need a little reminder to practice what they preach.
Take a break. We know it can be difficult, if not downright impossible, to take a break when you have a full load of patients and you’re trying to juggle all of your responsibilities. But taking just a few moments for yourself can make a big difference in your mental and physical health. If you can, take a break and do some stretching to help prevent muscle soreness, have a snack, drink some water and just allow your mind to rest for a few minutes. If you want, try to get a quick meditation session in or use a self-care app to refocus your energy and finish your shift strong.
Get some sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the best things you can do to improve your comfort throughout the day. Unfortunately for shift nurses, this is easier said than done. The National Sleep Foundation says over two-thirds of shift workers have difficulty sleeping or experience problem sleepiness. This is especially problematic for nurses who switch between days and night shifts.
Lack of sleep can cause headaches, irritability and put you at risk for serious health conditions. It can also lead to medical errors, so getting quality sleep is not only important for your comfort, but for the comfort and safety of your patients as well.
Nursing will probably never be a cushy job where you get to kick your feet up and relax. But that doesn’t mean you have to suffer either. By following these tips and focusing on yourself for once, you can improve your well-being and make it through those long shifts as comfortably as possible.
Think you’d be most comfortable working as a travel nurse? Contact OneStaff Medical or start an application today and let us help you find a job opportunity that’s the perfect fit for your lifestyle.