Top wellbeing tips for nurses during uncertain times
Head of Workplace Wellbeing, Mind
It’s an uncertain time in nursing in the UK. The cost of living crisis is affecting many of us, and nursing unions have been on strike over pay this week. While it seems progress is happening, being the centre of national news stories can add stress to an already pressurised job. When your work is focused on caring for someone else, it’s important to remember to look after yourself too. That includes recognising how the impact of the strikes might be affecting you.
What you can do to support yourself
A certain amount ofcan be good, helping us to perform and to feel energised and ready to meet new challenges. But being under intense pressure for too long can lead to stress. Keep a look out: you might start to feel more irritable, wound up, depressed or like your thoughts are racing and you can’t switch off.
The period we’re in is unique, but that just makes it more important to pay attention to how you’re doing. Here are some tips for looking after yourself in work:
1. Take some time before your shift.
Mentally prepare by working through a readiness checklist. This could include the following:
- Challenging negative thoughts and assumptions about what the day might bring. Imagining the worst will fuel any anxiety.
- Taking six deep breaths, to slow your heart rate and put your body into a calm, ready state.
- Purposefully leaving worries behind. Write them down, say them or shut them in your locker.
- If you enjoy mindfulness or relaxation exercises, this might be a good time to do them.
2. Take your breaks
Sometimes it’s tempting to work right through and get the job done, especially in this environment of increased pressure. Butis important and can allow you to rest and recuperate, even for just a little while. Don’t feel guilty – it’s not a luxury but there for patients’ safety as well as yours.
3. Check in with your mind and your colleagues
Make a point of regularly pausing to focus on how you’re all doing. You could complete aand encourage your team to do the same, or look at for a quick way to discuss how the day’s going.
Don't neglect other aspects of your physical health
4. Look after your body during your shift
The measures you need to take to keep yourself and your patients safe and protected are probably forefront in your mind every day. But don’t neglect other aspects of your physical health too.
For example, it’s not always practical or easy to. However, prepping meals and healthy snacks before shifts or at the beginning of a work week can help us eat better, feel energised and get the correct nutrients for a taxing shift. It’s just as important to stay hydrated before, during, and after shifts. When you do manage to get breaks, try to where you can.
5.Think about your work/life balance
Working long shifts in such a challenging and fast-paced environment can leave you exhausted. This all makes it more important than ever to take care of yourself by doing something you enjoy sometimes too.
Think about ways to take some time for yourself in your personal life. Build in opportunities to do things that relax you and make time to stay in contact with those you care about.
Consider three things that went well
6. Leave work at work
The fact is, your shifts are likely to be tough, anddo happen. Having a ‘going home checklist’ that you do before you leave the building can help you switch from work to home mode. You could do the following:
- Take a moment to think about the shift.
- Acknowledge three things that were difficult. Take any learning that is needed, then let them go.
- Consider three things that went well.
- Choose an action that signals the end of your shift. Something as easy as doing the same action when clocking out.
- Now switch your attention to home. Think about how you’re now going to rest and recharge.
These tips may not be for you, and as things change, what works now might not work next week. You might look into the wellbeing apps that are now free to NHS staff, or the RCN counselling service. There are more ideas on Mental Health at Work. If you’re in need of mental health support now, please visit Our Frontline or text the helpline on 85258. Take care of yourselves and thank you for all that you are doing.