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4 tips for nurses for coping with the stress of shift work

Working in healthcare means you have a critical job in society, and your ability to help others even when you are not at work is a great privilege. Nevertheless, if you are a nurse or thinking of moving into nursing leadership, you may know that shift work has its challenges. The reality is that most registered nurses deal with shift work stress by working rotating shifts.

Over time, this can take a toll on nurses, which is why some look to move into leadership positions and explore programs like the UIndy nursing leadership program. Nurses can expand their options and opportunities by furthering their education with a program from an industry leader like the University of Indianapolis. This is especially true if they want to move from floor nurses and shift work.

Although shift work may cause some stress for certain nurses, others love working nights, weekends, and split shifts. It allows them to manage their time more effectively while balancing other responsibilities. However, stress happens sometimes, even for those who enjoy shift work, so here are four tips for helping nurses cope with any stress they encounter.

Take care of your body during your free time

While you work, you cannot control everything, but you can take care of your body while you are off duty. Make sure you eat a healthy diet, get enough water and rest, and exercise regularly. If you consume a healthy diet, your body will have the energy to help you better handle the stress of shift work.

Exercise helps to reduce stress and makes you more alert and focused while on the job. Studies show that regular exercise increases work productivity, improves decision-making skills, and boosts mood and self-esteem.

Stretch, exercise, and breathe deeply

Another way to deal with the extra stress of shift work is by doing gentle stretches during breaks. This helps you relax, reduce muscle aches and prepare your body for the rest of your shift. Even mild exercises release endorphins, which will help you to feel less stressed. You might not be able to do a full workout every day, but you can do some stretching exercises. Breathing exercises can also help you stay focused and relaxed, so take a few minutes at the beginning of your shift to focus on your breathing.

Find a support group of other nurses who rotate shifts.

Another way to deal with the extra stress of shift work is to get together with other nurses who rotate shifts. This gives you people to talk to who share the same experience. If there isn’t a support group for nurses nearby, consider starting one for yourself and others in your area. You can meet with other nurses in person or online. Furthermore, you can support each other in finding ways to deal with the stress of shift work, such as by writing in a journal, doing crafts, or trying guided visualization or meditation.

Celebrate the days off you have at the end of a shift.

Another way to help yourself deal with the stress of shift work is to celebrate your days off and get used to doing something special for yourself. For example, you could visit a spa, see a show, or cook your favorite meals. These activities can help you relax and leave your shifts’ challenges behind.

Another way to celebrate your days off is by planning something for the future. You can also arrange something fun to do with the people in your life, such as going out with friends or spending time with family. Celebrating days off is a significant win for your overall health and wellness.

Shift work brings rewards.

Those who only work day shifts may not understand shift work, but nurses who rotate shifts know what it is like to work when others sleep. The hours may be long and irregular, but the rewards are worth it in helping patients.

If you’re a new nurse dealing with the stress of shift work, keep these four tips in mind. Go to bed well before your shift starts, and take care of your body during your free time. Stretch, exercise, and breathe deeply.

Find a support group of other nurses who rotate shifts, and celebrate your days off at the end of shifts. These techniques will help you deal with the extra stress of shift work and make your work days more manageable.