Day to day life can be stressful on both personal and professional levels—especially when you’re a nurse or healthcare professional. Maybe you’re juggling work with familial responsibilities, such as taking the kids to summer camp or planning a vacation. Maybe your department is short staffed, and you’re working overtime. Even daily tasks for nurses can cause stress and anxiety.
Regardless of whether things seem to be hectic or going well, it is important to take time to yourself to take a break and recharge your mental health.
What does that mean? As a nurse, you are focused on providing highly personalized care to someone in need. Yet we so often neglect to give that same attention to detail when caring for ourselves. As the saying goes, you cannot pour from an empty teapot.
Focus on Mental Wellness
Nursing is fast-paced and requires nurses to think quickly on their feet. It requires a lot of energy and focus, which can be extraordinarily tiring. Long shifts and understaffed units can weigh heavy on team members. This overexertion can lead to burnout and depression, which can in turn have a negative impact on the standard of care.
Imagine an ideal workplace. There are an adequate number of staff on hand, and nurses aren’t overworked or tired. Now, imagine being asked to perform a skill that you’re not one hundred percent confident in. You may feel nervous and experience some anxiety. This may be more true for new graduates, but even veteran nurses experience this discomfort from time to time.
This is why taking a break is so important. Between the external pressures of a stressful workplace and the internal pressure of performing challenging responsibilities, it can be overwhelming for a person to keep going without a break.
The beauty of it is that taking a break is flexible. It can mean going to get a pedicure, or attending a yoga class to physically recharge. It can mean enjoying a movie out with friends or a date night with a significant other after work. Or, it can mean simply using part of a lunch break to meditate.
Here are three reasons you should take a break.
- Appointments. If you find it difficult to take a step away from your work and need a reason, nothing is quite as convincing as appointments. Take a day or two to visit with your doctor, dentist, therapist, or other licensed professional for routine work and mental health check-ins as needed.
- Physical Health. Our physical and mental health are very closely tied. If you don’t feel like you have time before or after work to squeeze in a work out, it could be a good idea to take a day off to get a workout in. Classes can be a fun way to get your blood pumping and try something new. And if you have the class scheduled and paid for, it will be easier to commit to it.
- Overwhelmed and/or Distracted. If your mind is wandering at work, taking a day off can allow you time to complete any to-do’s that are on your mind and give you the space to regain control of your wellbeing. Focus is so important in nursing. Make sure you are in an optimal position to give your patient the best care that you can.
Taking a break is not something you should feel guilty about. Regardless of how much you love your job, how much of a difference you feel like you are making, or how well you are performing, it is still crucial to take breaks to recharge and relax. Remember, that break you’re taking is going to make you a better nurse.
Do it for yourself. Do it for your patients.