10 Tips for Relaxation After a Busy Shift
You’re driving home from a busy shift. You’re still thinking about what’s going on with your patients. Maybe you’re replaying something that you wish had gone differently, and you can’t shake that feeling that you forgot to chart something or another. You swear you hear the various alarms ringing in your ears…
You step through the front door when you get home-sweet-home, and what do you do to just FORGET ABOUT IT?!
10 tips for relaxation:
1. Work Out
It might feel like the ABSOLUTE LAST THING you want to do after you’ve been running around like a chicken with their head cut off all day, but it HELPS A TON. While cardio or aerobic activity is SO beneficial to our health, I personally rarely have the energy for this after I work a busy shift. I prefer to lift weights, which my husband got me into last year and I fell in love with it. While not easy, I like the fact that you get rest periods, and I am much more capable of giving it 100% in short periods rather than enduring cardio for a longer period. I always feel like a WEIGHT (hehe) has been lifted off my shoulders after I am done lifting weights (I know, I know…I’m HILARIOUS!)
2. Go for a Walk
You may have already walked about 5 miles during your shift, but getting out for a leisurely stroll is very beneficial. Let your mind wander and unwind as you take in the sights and sounds. Just let one foot fall in front of the other. Or you could listen to music or an audiobook to stop your mind from thinking about work.
Even just 5-10 minutes of meditation can clear your head and enable you to focus your mind elsewhere. It is the conscious act of controlling your mind, and by clearing it of all thoughts for a brief period, you give yourself a clean slate and control over what you think about. When you regularly practice meditation, you become more aware of all your thoughts, which allows your mind to stop thoughts about work in their track and redirect it to something more useful.
There’s nothing more refreshing than getting out there in nature and just taking in the beautiful sights and sounds. Observing beautiful sights in nature has been shown to release dopamine and serotonin, which makes you happy! Hiking also gives you physical activity, which plays a beneficial role in relieving stress.
Find an activity or craft you enjoy and let yourself get wrapped up in it. I actually find going to the shooting range is a very therapeutic activity for me. I am so focused on the activity, my mind does not wander…which is AMAZING and rare. Crafting is great too and I find if I’m really enjoying doing something creative, all my energy is focused on this and it gives me a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.
6. Take a bath
There’s nothing quite like a nice, warm, bubble bath to de-stress at the end of a rough day. Add some essential oils or light candles, and it really gives a relaxing mood. Add Epsom salt to relieve muscle aches after a hard day’s work. And let’s face it, after working as a nurse, you could probably use a nice bath to just feel clean again….
7. Read a book
A great book can take you away from all your worries. Reading is also great because you exercise your good ol’ brain and can increase your vocabulary!
Writing is a beneficial creative and cathartic outlet. When I feel like something might be bothering me, I just take pen to paper and let it all out. By just letting the words fall out of my head onto the paper, I often discover the root to my problems and figure out how to solve them. I highly recommend you give it a try!
9. Take a Power Nap
Sometimes the stress you are feeling at the end of a busy shift can be related to sleep deprivation. With strange shift schedules and plenty of overtime, sleep problems come pretty naturally to nurses. With sleep problems come feelings of stress, fatigue, and inability to cope with even the most mundane problems we face on a daily basis. All you need is around 20-60 minutes to benefit and recharge from a power nap. Just this short amount of sleep has been shown to increase your motor performance skills, and over 20 minutes can help boost memory and enhance creativity and decision-making skills.
10. Give Your Pets Some Love
According to CDC.gov, pets have been shown to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. They also help lessen feelings of loneliness, and can help ease anxiety. In fact, individuals who suffer from anxiety have shown improvement from a “prescription” from their doctor to bring their pet everywhere with them! Pets can also motivate you to get outside and lead a more active lifestyle, and they are a great way to meet new people too. The affection you have for your pets boost your serotonin and dopamine levels, which make you feel good. And who doesn’t want to feel good and loved at the end of a “ruff” day? Ok, I’m done with puns now, seriously.
What do you do to de-stress and relax after a busy shift?