How to Relax After A Shift

March 8 / Posted by Christi Hintz

Does this sound familiar to you? You come home from a long, particularly challenging shift at the hospital and collapse on the couch with your phone. You try to unwind, but you can’t get your mind off work. You still hear the sounds of the hospital in your head and you’re still thinking about what a doctor said, what a patient said, or something that happened. You can’t fully be in the moment because you’re still kind of at work. How do you combat this? Here are a few ideas for clearing your head after a long day at work.

  1. Leave Work at Work


So many nurses love their job, and that is wonderful! But sometimes, in order to get a better work/life balance, it’s better to leave work at work. This means that when you leave at the end of your shift, you find other things to do and talk about that don’t relate to work.


  1. Develop a Hobby


If you’re stumped for ideas on what else to do and talk about after work, this might be the perfect time to look for a hobby you enjoy. Cultivating a hobby that you love is a great way to relax and achieve a state of flow. What is flow? Flow is that feeling you get when you’re so wrapped up in an activity that you don’t notice time passing or things happening outside of that activity. Getting into this headspace is soothing and helps you detach from negative thoughts and feelings that you may have carried over from a stressful day.


Your hobby can be anything that makes you feel this way. Art, music, writing, reading, dancing or cooking are just a few ideas. Bonus points if you can take this hobby and participate in it with a larger community of people with similar interests. Take to the internet and look for local groups or classes related to your hobby, and enjoy bonding over a shared interest.

  1. Go For a Run Or Hike


If the weather permits, head outdoors to stretch your legs. A quick bout of jogging or hiking can help boost your mood and clear your mind, and getting outdoors to do it will help you unplug from the constantly connected world. Not to mention, regular exercise can help you sleep better. Which leads right into another important way to relax after a shift…

  1. Sleep


Many people nowadays already find themselves sleep deprived on a regular basis. Add to that 12 hour shifts and night shifts, and you’ve got a recipe for a constantly drained nurse. We know it’s not the most exciting way to spend your time, but if you’re just sort of feeling off, a quick 20 minute power nap might be just what you need to recharge your batteries. If you really need the rest, don’t be afraid to turn in early and tackle your to-do list after a full night’s (or morning’s) sleep. Taking time now to take care of yourself can set you up for a more productive and enjoyable day.


What are your best methods for relaxing after a long shift? Leave your recommendations in the comments below.

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