So you have a shift. It can be great or it can be brutal. Or it can just be a shift. What do you do next?
A proactive and intentional post-shift practice is going to change your life. Have you ever heard of a maladaptive response to stress? In a nutshell, a maladaptive response is a response to something which increases the stress instead of decreasing it. This response can happen without you being aware. Therefore having a proactive approach to your post-shift recovery can be helpful.
At the end of my shifts I always do these tasks:
- Before I leave the unit I write on a post-it 3 things- something I learnt, something I loved and something I achieved (on a Friday I read them to show me what I have have achieved that week)
- Listen to a song from my playlist (I use music to start and end a shift)
- Back when I was burnt out, I would stop outside the ward doors and pause and imagine letting the shift go like you would set down a suitcase. (I don’t do this so much in my new role as it’s not so heavy on my soul)
- Sit outside (1 min minimum but much longer if I can) and feel the breeze or sun on my face. No phone. Just being.
At home after my shift, I always ensure I have a moment of true leisure planned. It is easy to get swept up into household tasks or doing things for everyone else. BUT research tells us that shift recovery is severely decreased by completing household chores. Yes, we all need to keep our homes clean and tidy BUT you also NEED to look after yourself first.
I also journal. Every day. Sometimes free text, sometimes bullet. But every day I unburden my mind of stuff to leave space for the next day. I love journaling and could talk about the benefits of it all day, but I’ll save that for another day.
Next week we will look at the actual implementation of pre-shift pump up and post-shift recovery.
The Phoenix Protocol is a membership for nurses seeking guidance with life skills to cope on shift and off shift. The membership involves monthly masterclass videos, worksheets and much more.
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