Anyone who has worked long shifts like nurses and doctors knows that it’s stressful. And as human beings, we try to avoid stress at all costs, even if it means stressing out about how to avoid the stress. But that’s stupid right? We get caught in a vicious cycle of stressing about stress instead of just taking a deep breath and pushing forward. 

I especially noticed these moments of panic prior to working my shift. From the moment I opened my eyes to the second I walked onto my unit and beyond, I could feel the panic rising in me for no particular reason. At the end of the day, nothing horrible had ever happened and I just ended up feeling silly just to wake up the next morning and start the whole cycle over again. 

So how can we avoid this stress? There are some small things you can start doing NOW to prevent this cycle happening to YOU. 

1. Get enough sleep

This is obvious but waking up feeling well rested and ready to go is a lot less stressful than waking up exhausted and facing a 12 hour shift without enough rest 

2. Enjoy a cup of coffee, tea, or other favorite drink when you first get up

Some people SWEAR by coffee in the morning and sitting and enjoying that first cup, but it can really apply to any favorite drink. Make some tea, drink your energy drink, or make some hot cocoa, sit down for a moment and enjoy it! 

3. Eat a good breakfast and pack a good lunch and snacks you can look forward to

This is another more obvious one. If you’re hungry and your blood sugar is low, you’ll feel worse which, during a long shift, can make you feel anxious or tired. So have some good things to eat you can grab throughout the day! 

4. Repeat positive affirmations

Repeating positive affirmations every day really helps you shift your mindset. Repeating these in the morning before work can help stop the anxiety spiral in its tracks. 

5. Journal about your why

Journal about all the reasons you love your work. You can do this once and review the list every morning or write a new one every day. Just write every positive thought about your work and nursing down and read it a few times. 

Do these before your next shift and when you’re feeling that spiral start so you stop it in its tracks.



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