One of the best things about being a nurse is those four days off throughout the week. Or so you thought right? Nursing is hard and a lot of nurses feel exhausted and drained and spend their days off trying to catch up on rest. While this is important, it leaves no time for things like exercising, errands, or spending time on hobbies or with friends and family. So how can we make the best of those days off so that we get the rest we need AND have time for all the other things we need to do?
1. Get rest after your shift
The FIRST and most important step is to get adequate rest after your shift. Don’t stay up late when you get home! Go to bed early enough that you can wake up at a reasonable time the next day and make the most of it!
2. Practice mindfulness and self care first
When you get home from work and when you get up the next day, practice mindfulness and self care. This could look like meditating and practicing yoga in the morning or journaling after your work to let all those thoughts out.
After you have been able to truly ground yourself in the moment, practice some self care. This looks different for everyone, but do something that makes YOU feel good. Some examples include:
- Take a morning bubble bath or long hot shower with relaxing or energizing music
- Go outside!
- Spend time on a hobby you love
- Have a fun breakfast you love
- Go for a walk with a podcast you love
- Spend time with a loved one
- Take a NAP if you need it
3. Do something fun
After you are feeling rested and rejuvenated, keep the momentum going of taking care of yourself by doing something fun. This can include something like doing your favorite exercise class, going out with a friend for lunch, taking yourself on a shopping trip, going to the pool! Whatever you enjoy doing, go do it!
4. Get things done
Now that you are fully relaxed and have enjoyed some of your time off, now it’s time to get things done. The best time of the day to do this is early to mid afternoon so that you can get READY for the next day without all the anxiety of the evening time. Exercise, run some errands, do some meal prep for the next few days and shifts, schedule some appointments, whatever you need to do. Spread these out between your days off so it doesn’t take your whole day to finish them. Get organized for the next few days, do laundry, wash your scrubs, pack your lunches, whatever you need to have ready for your coming shifts DO IT NOW.
5. Get some clean rest
Into the late afternoon and early evening, it’s time to wind down. Have a relaxing dinner, maybe outside with your partner or a friend, have a glass of wine (or tea) and REST. Read a good book, take a nap, watch your favorite movie, whatever feels TRULY relaxing. Let it take you into the evening and help prepare you for sleep.
Try these out on your next day out and see if it helps you feel more like a “regular” person and not a zombie like so many nurses feel.
Alison Shely is a nurse practitioner, nurse coach, and nurse content writer who specializes in articles, guest blogger, and healthcare worker wellness.
Visit her website for coaching details and other writing samples.
Sources: 50 State Boards of Nursing, University Websites, U.S. Department of Education, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Ranking Methodology.