Did you know that the average nurse burns 1,521 kilocalories over the course of a 12-hour shift? Nursing is one of the most strenuous civilian jobs out there, and it’s vital to know how to keep up your energy levels so that you can give it your best throughout. These tips will help.
Eat healthy snacks
Eating small amounts of food throughout your shift is very helpful, but what you eat matters. Food that releases energy slowly, such as cereals, nuts and pasta, is particularly good as it will keep you going for a long time, while fruit – especially bananas and avocados – is good for getting energy into your system quickly and replenishing vital nutrients.
Resist caffeine and sugar
The old standbys of caffeine and sweet snacks are naturally tempting when your energy levels are low, but whether you’re checking a patient’s vitals or preparing for your Wilkes application deadline, this is a profession in which you need to maintain a steady focus. If you must have these things, have them sparingly and infrequently or they’ll make you jittery and leave you more tired.
Take exercise breaks
It might sound counterintuitive to get physically active when you’re feeling tired, but research shows that a short burst of vigorous exercise can actually boost your energy levels – and help you to sustain them over the long term. It can be as simple as running on the spot for 10 minutes when the ward is quiet.
Practice good teamwork
When you’re part of a well-structured team, you can reduce the pressure on one another by stepping in when one person is looking overwhelmed and clearly needs a break, or help with tasks that need physical strength when you see somebody struggling. Looking out for each other helps individuals to pace themselves better and makes sure that nobody gets completely burned out.
Learn to say no
Being part of a team involves give and take, so make sure that you’re not the one who’s always giving. Nursing attracts people who care, but you need to remember the principles of triage and know when to put yourself first. It will never be possible for you to do everything that patients and colleagues might need from you, and if you don’t take care of yourself, you’ll be no use to anyone.
Learn to switch off
Because it involves so much emotional engagement, nursing can be tiring even when you’re not on shift. Far too many nurses keep work in their thoughts all the time and suffer from problems such as anxiety and insomnia as a result. Religious practice, meditation, or simply getting lost in a good book or TV show can all help you to switch off so that when you go back to work, you’ll be re-energized.
Ultimately, nurses need to know how to prioritize their health, both physically and mentally. Looking after yourself like this will put you in a much better position to support your colleagues and care for your patients.