Although nursing is an extremely rewarding profession, it can also be exhausting at times. Double shifts, heavy patient loads and other demands can make it hard to get through your shift with anywhere close to the amount of energy you started with.
Try these six tips to help you stay energized on the job:
Limit your caffeine intake
Although it's tempting to drink cup after cup of hospital coffee to help you stay alert, that's not the best strategy over time. Instead, you should be eliminating caffeine or restricting the amount you take in, according to NursingCenter. When you consume large amounts of caffeine, your body develops a tolerance, making it less effective for you.
You should also make sure to count all your caffeine consumption, since some sources may not be obvious. For example, two Excedrin Migraine tablets contain 130 mg of caffeine, which is exactly the same amount as a 14-ounce bottle of Starbucks Coffee Frappuccino. Click here to check the caffeine counts for common foods and beverages.
Take a quick break outside
Breaks can be hard to come by during a shift, but you should try to take one when if you can. Being in the same hospital environment hour after hour can increase your exhaustion.
Medelita recommends getting outside for just five or 10 minutes to help recharge mentally, especially during the day when you can soak up a little sunlight.
Control what you can
You may not be able to control how many patients you have, the hours you're working or other aspects of your job, but you can control some things, according to NursingJobs.com.
For example, you don't choose the hospital's flooring – which can be tiring for your feet – but you can invest in a pair of super-comfortable shoes. You can also try your best to establish a regular routine, even if you're working a difficult shift or are being asked to work a swing shift.
You tell your patients to eat right, but are you taking the time to do the same?
NursingCenter points out that if you're tired and sleep-deprived, you're more likely to crave sweets and carbs. These can make you crash in the afternoon. Instead, Travel Nurse Across America points out that you need protein-rich foods such as nuts to stay energized and recommends making an energy bar with walnuts, almonds and pecans for a filling, nutritious snack at work.
If you don't take in enough fluids, you may feel lethargic and have trouble concentrating, according to Alice Benjamin, a cardiac clinical nurse specialist. She recommends focusing on drinking water more often rather than stressing about the number of ounces you're taking in. Since water bottles are often prohibited in patient care areas, you should set an alarm to go off every two hours so you can go to the break room and sip some water. Chewing ice can also help increase your hydration.
Remember your calling and help your colleagues
Remembering how important your role is to your patients' well-being can help you get through a rough shift, says NursingJobs.com.
You should also try to use downtime to help other team members in need. You'll be helping to maintain a good, steady workflow and your co-workers will likely return the favor when you need it.
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