While every nurse is different, the one thing they do have in common is the need to unwind after a hard day at work.
We asked a handful of West Coast University nurses what they do to relax and get ready for the next 12-hour shift. Although their ways to avoid burnout might vary, the goal is always the same: Refueling the mind, body and soul to get ready to take care of others.
Cooking, reading and yoga
I work nights so after a 12-hour shift, sleep is definitely on my mind but I usually go home, shower and enjoy some breakfast. I’ve become talented at making breakfast — waffles and pancakes from scratch to omelets. I try to learn new recipes to make it interesting. When I get into bed, I enjoy a book and fall right to sleep. If I work days, I enjoy buying snack foods and putting on a movie I’ve haven't seen and watch it that evening after dinner. For my days off, yoga and Pilates have been great ways for relaxation. The breathing exercises during yoga really help me relieve stress from the workplace. It feels as if I’m exhaling all that I’ve done and helps me reset for the next few days. If there’s any tip I can give for unwinding, I would stick to things you enjoy! Whether it’s breakfast foods or a good workout, if you enjoy it, I guarantee it will bring some type of relief!
Sarah Camille Linsangan,
WCU-Los Angeles BSN alumnus
Hot showers, hot yoga and warm drinks
After getting home, a hot shower helps me relax from long hours of work. Before bed, I will get a light snack and a warm drink to comfort my body and get ready for bed. Using a sleep mask helps me fall asleep faster but I prefer not to use earplugs in case of any emergency. I try not to spend too much time on my phone before bed or I just put it away since looking at things on my phone can keep me awake for a while. Another thing is no caffeine after midnight to keep my body ready for the morning sleep. If I have the day off, I will go to a sauna room or do a hot yoga class. It really helps me recover from long hours especially with my back and legs. I always remember to listen to my body — you know your body better than anyone else.
WCU-Orange County BSN alumnus
Exercise, hugs and Steven King
Hugs from my family are a huge plus. Hugs have been proved to relax muscles. Both exercise and hugs release endorphins as well! When I get a few days off, I love to sleep in and make my favorite foods. My favorite breakfast is egg whites with diced onion, bell pepper, mushrooms and cheese with toast and jelly on the side. My favorite snack is a caramel rice cake with peanut butter and banana, topped with cinnamon. I also love being able to do my full exercise of strength training, cardio and yoga. The other thing I love is to pick up a great book. My recent read was “Sharp Objects” by Gillian Flynn. My next book is going to be a Steven King novel because of the current situation — either “The Stand” or “The Dead Zone.” With the family, we love to play board games and card games. Right now, we are playing “5-Minute Dungeon.” It is a great time where all three of us laugh and just forget about things like work and school and chores.
WCU-Dallas BSN alumnus
Small breakfast, steam showers
As a night shift nurse, it’s important to have a routine. As soon as I get home from work, I take my vitamins and have a small breakfast, usually an egg or a toast. I find it easier to fall asleep if I keep it light. Then I prepare my uniform for the next shift. This way I have everything ready, which allows for more “me” time before work.
Before bed, I like to take a long, hot shower. Since it’s been proved that heat helps with muscle stiffness, I've included hot showers as part of my anxiety-relieving and unwinding routine. I find it helpful to let the hot water hit my neck and shoulders where I hold my stress. I like to visualize my stress washing away and breathe in the steam to help me relax.
WCU-Miami BSN alumnus
Music and laughter
If it was a really overwhelming day at work, the first thing I do when I get into my car is turn my phone on vibrate and then blast my favorite music all the way home. Good music helps keep my mood positive, and sometimes I even like to sing to myself in the car. This is a great way to decompress! Then if that does not work, I call my best friend. She always keeps me laughing, and laughter can cure almost anything for me.
Sabrina Spady BSN, RN, PHN;
WCU-OC adjunct mental health nursing instructor