Updated: December 02, 2021

Being a nurse is hard. Self care is an important way to help keep your head above the water, but not all self care is created equal. This is where clean rest comes in. If you’ve never heard that term before, you’re not alone. I was first introduced to the term when I was struggling with burnout myself and was trying every self care practice I could find. But then, I listened to a podcast about clean rest and immediately knew what had been wrong the whole time. 

What is clean rest?

Clean rest means actually resting. Not taking a bath while catching up on podcasts. Not watching your favorite show while you workout. Not anything that you could qualify as WORK for your body or your mind. Clean rest is simply resting all of you. For me, this means journaling, reading, meditating, or sleeping and NOTHING else is allowed. You can meditate, read your favorite book, sit outside and feel the breeze, or take a nap! Find something you feel the most relaxed doing and that doesn’t require any work. 

Why is it important?

Clean rest is important when preventing burnout because it’s the only type of rest that your brain truly processes as rest. Really, this should be integrated into your daily routine for an hour. However, that may not be very realistic for many people, I know it wasn’t for me at first, so start small. Start with 10 minutes a day for a few weeks. Then move up to 20, then 30 and so on. 

How do I get started?

The hardest part is getting started and finding what works best for you in your routine. You’ll have to play with it a little, with different times of day, different activities, or different duration. I’ll give you a few examples though! For example, for me, right after work I NEED my clean rest, I CRAVE it. I work Monday- Friday 8 am- 5 pm and usually get home around 5:30. From 5:30- 6:30 pm, I give myself clean rest. I journal about my day, meditate, and read. Sometimes I let myself doze off if I need it. 

How do I fit it into my daily routine?

Most of you reading this though, are probably nurses and work twelve hour shifts. So, when I was a nurse and was working 3-4 12 hour shifts a week, my schedule looked much different. When I was working 12 hour shifts, I gave myself smaller chunks of rest throughout the day. I always started my day with my morning routine, including at least 10 minutes of journaling, meditating, or reading. If I was lucky and got a nice lunch break, I would make it a priority to go off the unit, sit outside if possible, and just eat in the quiet. I would then end my day with a little longer of a chunk whether that was a long bath in silence, reading, or journaling. If you have kids or are short on time, take 10 minutes in your car to meditate, to breath, to read, and to REST. 

While it may not seem possible at first IT IS and it is essential in helping to prevent burnout. Try out different ways, set timers on your phone, and remember to prioritize you.

Sources: 50 State Boards of Nursing, University Websites, U.S. Department of Education, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Ranking Methodology.