Nurses have one of the most stressful jobs. It requires a high level of medical skill and expertise, long shifts and providing hands-on care for patients. Therefore, it's no surprise that stress and burnout are prominent concerns.
As a nurse, leisure time may be hard to come by, but remember that providing the best care for patients starts with a happy and healthy nurse. Your presence and work at the hospital is valued and important, but you need and deserve downtime too.
Keep work at the hospital
It can be easy to bring your job home when you work so closely with people in such personal situations. Your mind may dwell on your patients, but when you're off the clock, you can rest easy knowing that they're being cared for by your co-workers. Once you leave work, focus on yourself and what tasks you need to complete for yourself. These can be anything from grocery shopping to getting your nails done. Whatever they may be, focus on them and enjoy yourself.
Recognize the signs of stress
Identifying stress in patients is easier than recognizing it in yourself. After all, it can be easy to reason with yourself. Perhaps you stayed up a little too late catching up with your favorite TV show or are having trouble focusing because you had to skip breakfast. However, it's the little stress indicators that accumulate into a bigger problem. Other signs of stress include fatigue or trouble sleeping, muscular tension, feeling sad or upset, restlessness, a lack of attention to detail, disorganized thoughts, unrealistic expectations for yourself and more.
If you recognize some of these symptoms in your daily life, consider taking some time off work to relax.
Stick to your plans
Doubtless, you've picked up a few last-minute shifts and have probably had to alter your personal plans. The hospital is a fast-faced workplace where an absence is a big deal and coverage needs to be found as soon as possible. This may happen in the time period that you plan on spending away from work. However, sticking to your original plans is important in maintaining your mental health.
One way to ensure that you don't back away from your time off is to mark it in your calendar and share the details of the date and plans with friends and family members, who will make sure that you do whatever it may be that you intend to do.
Set up a fun day or night for yourself at least once every month. This can be by yourself or with a loved one. Either way, have people who will check up on you to make sure you had the time to yourself. This way, you'll have an event to look forward to every month.
Though you may enjoy yourself while tending to personal tasks such as cleaning the house, don't pass up the opportunity to treat yourself every now and then. You work hard and you deserve to be rewarded. It doesn't matter whether it's related to work. You can enjoy a spa session or purchase a stylish new pair of nursing shoes. Do whatever it is that will help you relax and look forward to your next shift.
Above all, communicate with fellow nurses, family members and friends. Let them know how you feel, especially when you're feeling stressed out. Having an emotional support system is important and will help you care for yourself while tending to patients.
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