As if nurses aren’t already superheroes because of what they do, they definitely are because of how long they do it for. Most adults only work 8 hours a day, but most nurses work 12. Preparing for 12 hour shifts as a registered nurse is easier when you plan ahead and make smart choices throughout the day. Here are some tips to help make your shift better!
Pack Your Food & Eat Right
When you’re struggling through a long day, you might want to reward yourself with a sugary snack from the vending machine or a greasy burger from the cafeteria. These momentary pleasures ultimately lower your energy level and spell disaster for your day. If you want to know how to survive a 12-hour shift, the first thing you should address is your diet.
You should pack healthy meals to eat during your shift so you’re not tempted to indulge in unhealthy options. Include several small snacks as well. Package these conveniently so you can grab a bag of nuts and an apple, or a banana and peanut butter even when you don’t have much time to spare. You should focus on high-energy snacks and whole foods that will keep you going instead of drag you down.
Get Ample Rest
It’s important to get a full night’s sleep before a long shift. You shouldn’t drink alcohol or caffeine at night before bed so that you can enjoy a restful evening. If you have a break of 20 minutes or more during work, consider taking a quick nap. Data from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies reveals that a 20-minute nap during a 10 hour shift can improve performance by 50 percent.
Use Your Breaks Wisely
A lengthy shift can put you under a lot of mental strain. You should make the most of all breaks allowed by employee scheduling. You can find a quiet spot to meditate and clear your mind, listen to a relaxing track of nature sounds on your phone or MP3 player, or read something you enjoy. You should avoid stressful activities, like watching crime drama snippets or reading intense thrillers, where you’ll have to stop in the middle of the action to return to work.
Wear compression socks
That’s right, compression socks aren’t just for your post-operative patients. Being on your feet for long periods of time puts you at a high risk for varicose veins, and wearing compression socks can help reduce that risk. Compression socks can also help reduce fatigue by improving blood flow and reducing lactic acid build up. If you find that your calves are sore and your ankles are swollen after working, you may want to try slipping on a pair of compression socks before your next shift. Your legs will thank you later!
Take Smart Supplements
The right supplements can make a big difference in how well you can handle a long shift. Low vitamin D levels can lead to fatigue. You can get vitamin D from salmon, tuna or fortified food products, but a supplement might be more effective if your levels are low. Vitamin B can decrease fatigue as well. Omega-3 fatty acids contribute to brain cell development and can help you stay on top of your game. A well-rounded multivitamin is always a smart choice. Speak to your doctor about the best supplements for your needs.
Surviving 12-hour shifts might be difficult, but you can make these long days easier on yourself by preparing for the challenge. Packing healthy foods, getting enough rest, partaking in relaxing entertainment for your breaks and taking a few smart supplements can make the shift go smoothly.