10 Ways to De-Stress After Your Shift
Nursing is a rewarding career field, but it can also be stressful. Long shifts, unconventional work schedules and high patient loads can take their toll on nurses. A study published in Nursing Research and Practice found that 92% of nurses rate their stress levels as moderate to very high. When nurses are stressed, they often turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as eating junk food or drinking too much alcohol. These strategies may help you feel better in the short term, but as a nurse, you know they're not great for your health. Instead, try these 10 healthier ways to de-stress after nursing shifts.
1. Get some exercise
After a stressful shift, exercise may be the last thing on your mind, but when you're active, your body releases endorphins. These feel-good chemicals can help improve your mood. Choose a type of exercise you enjoy, such as walking, cycling or dancing.
2. Socialize with friends and family
Working long shifts can make it harder to maintain your social life, especially if you're on the night shift. Since socializing can help you manage your stress, try to make time for friends and family. When you're traveling, call your loved ones back home regularly.
3. Spend time outdoors
It's well-known that spending time in nature can help reduce stress, so head outdoors after work. A study published in Frontiers in Psychology reported that spending just 20 to 30 minutes in nature can provide effective stress relief.
4. Write in a journal
Writing in a journal is an effective way to reduce stress. Journaling helps you organize your thoughts and feelings, which can help you problem-solve as well. Studies have found that writing down your negative thoughts and throwing away the paper can help clear your mind, Michigan State University says.
5. Make time for hobbies
Hobbies provide an outlet for your stress, and they can even give you something to look forward to after a long shift. Make time for fun activities that improve your mood, such as reading, crafting or bird watching.
6. Learn something new
Learning can be a helpful tool to ease stress, Harvard Business Review reports. That's because learning something new can help you feel more accomplished, and it can also help improve your resilience. After work, consider taking online nursing continuing education courses to update your skills.
7. Try meditation
When you're feeling tense and stressed, try meditation. Meditation can help relax both your body and mind, and it can even help lower your blood pressure, Harvard Medical School says. Other relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and yoga, can also be helpful.
8. Listen to soothing music
Listening to music that makes you feel good can help you de-stress after work. Many studies have found that listening to soothing music can help lower blood pressure, slow the heart rate and reduce anxiety, Harvard Medical School reports.
9. Explore local attractions
One of the many benefits of travel nursing is the opportunity to explore different parts of the country. After a busy shift, make time to explore the sights in your new city. Visiting an interesting museum or going hiking in a scenic state park can help you de-stress as a travel nurse.
Ready to explore a new part of the country? Browse our travel nursing jobs.
10. Get enough sleep
More than one-third of adults don't get the recommended 7 hours of sleep every night, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Not getting enough sleep can make you feel more stressed, so try not to stay up too late. If you work the night shift, earplugs and blackout curtains may help you get more sleep during the day.
Nursing can be stressful, but try not to give in to unhealthy coping mechanisms after a difficult shift. Instead, try one or more of these 10 healthy ways to de-stress after nursing shifts.