Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Calm Down

Nursing is often stressful (see previous post). We often work long, busy twelve hour shifts. We are contantly on our feet, the work is at times back-breaking, and we often miss our breaks. When I go home to my husband at the end of the day I am exhausted and not the most awesome person to hang out with. Here's some ideas to reduce stress when you've had one of those days.

1. Take a bath
Baths are my thing. Showers, not so much. Being alone in a warm tub filled with bubbles and a good book forces you to relax and decompress. Also, taking a bath allows you to unplug, since bringing electrical devices near water isn't such a great idea. There isn't a better way to quiet your mind after a busy day. Even better you have a big glass of red wine to bring in the bath with you.

2. Sleep
Having a good nights sleep makes you feel like you can take on anything, even the most stressful of patient assignments. When your mind is clear and your body is rested, it is easier to adapt to stress. Sometimes, to regulate my internal clock, I take melatonin. This makes asjusting to switching from day shifts to night shifts less exhausting.

3. Learn how to prioritize
I admit, there's many shifts out there when everything is so chaotic being organized isn't a possibility. But most days I work, I always try to prioritize the tasks that need to be done the best I can. I have developed my own routine, and try to stick to it. When the shit is hitting the fan, I usually try to take a minute to figure out what needs to be done first. Nurses I work with love to chat with each other, even when there's a ton of things to do. I love socializing too, but try to get all my work done first. I also find it useful to come into work and start my shift a few minutes early. That way I am not immediately thrown into my work, and I can take my time getting organized. I am sure most of you do these things already, or have your own ways of dealing the chaos. After three and a half years of nursing, I am still learning.

Remember, this will pass
4. One aspect of nursing that I have a love/hate relationship with is that each new shift is a blank page. This can be frustrating. Every shift feels like I am slogging up a mountain with no outcome or achievement at the end. The next shift, I am knocked back down that mountain and forced to climb up it again. But on the flip side, the best result of working this way is that you can leave your work at work at the end of a shift. It is possible to have a really busy, sick patient but you always know when your shift is over, someone takes over to take over the nursing care. How stressful would it be to know that if you called in sick, there would be double the work to do when you returned to your job?

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