by Sandy Goodwin, RN, BSN
When I was a nursing instructor, I frequently reminded my students to take their breaks. I would often get push-back from them with the statement, “I don’t have time to take a break.” Sadly, it’s a common sentiment among nurses and, as you can see, it starts early in a nursing career. And, honestly, it’s a bad habit. I know, because I’ve said it and skipped breaks too.
Let’s take a look at the purpose of a break. It was designed to give workers a few minutes to rest. Our minds and bodies were not meant to go full steam for hours on end. We push them to do that. And if we push too hard, they start to push back.
Focus and attention to detail are critical for a nurse’s work. It’s crucial to monitor what is happening with your patients to prevent complications. But focus occurs best in a brain that is calm. If you never rest your brain, you compromise its ability to focus and be alert to changes. A tired brain is a distracted brain; a rested brain is a focused one.
And what about your body without rest? When a body is constantly in motion, it is prone to wear and injury. You probably know nurses who complain of headaches, backaches, or painful feet. Is this happening to you? If your car engine was revved up and running constantly, it would break down. If your body is feeling discomfort, it’s a warning sign that it needs rest.
Rest matters. Breaks matter. They are not a luxury for when you have time, and smart nurses know that and choose to take the time to rest.
You’re a smart nurse. So give yourself a break – really. Do it for your brain, do it for your body, and do it for the patients who are counting on you to be your best.
Sandy Goodwin, RN, BSN helps nurses reduce their stress, prevent burnout, and bring more joy into their lives. For over 30 years, as a nurse, educator, and certified life coach, she has taught nurses at every level how to calm their minds and relax their bodies, so they can take care of others without depleting themselves. You can learn more about Sandy at www.breakthestresscycle.com.
Sandy Goodwin, RN, BSN
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Break the Stress Cycle
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