Have you ever thought to yourself, “How am I supposed to get all this work done in only one shift?” Nurses have so many people to please, tasks to complete, and departments to coordinate. Not to mention the fact that they are also responsible for documenting most of this work. It is possible to get the job done on time, but sometimes nurses do so at their own expense.
3 Unhealthy Ways to Cope With A Busy Workday
1. DON’T skip breaks and meals.
You need to stay focused throughout the day and keeping yourself fed is important for maintaining your concentration. Hunger doesn’t exactly bring out the best in people. You may be tempted to skip lunch to cross a few things off your to-do list, but don’t give in. Tend to your own needs first, and then you’ll be much more effective when you’re tending to the needs of everyone else.
2. DON’T cut corners with documentation.
This is almost always unintentional coping method nurses may turn to when they’re stressed with a full schedule. Skimping out on documentation and leaving out details could result in harm to the patient. Even if your day is overflowing with things to do, this is one area where you should make sure your work is complete and accurate.
3. DON’T avoid using the restroom to save a little time.
Stay hydrated and use the restroom when you have to. Nurses have to be prepared to deal with emergencies. If you wait too long to pee, you may get stuck in a situation where you have to go, but an emergency comes up that you have to deal with first. Don’t put yourself in an embarrassing situation, and take the time to go to the restroom.
4 Healthy tactics for dealing with a heavy workload
Bottling up your stress and frustration doesn’t help anyone. It’s okay to let it out! Just stay out of earshot of patients, visitors, and your boss. Let loose with coworkers in the break room. Also, remember that venting is different from complaining. Vent the frustration but don’t let it dictate your attitude and interactions with others for the rest of the shift.
2. Prioritize your breaks.
All patients are a priority but remember: you have to put on your oxygen mask first before helping someone else. Mental exhaustion can lead to mistakes and a poor attitude. Avoiding breaks can also cause physical problems. Too many nurses get kidney stones from consistently holding their bladder and not drinking enough water. Food, water, and using the bathroom are essential functions for all human beings.
3. Cut yourself a break. It’s ok to not complete every single task.
Sometimes, it’s just not possible to get everything done in one shift. And that’s okay! It doesn’t make you a bad or lazy nurse. It makes you human. Healthcare can be unpredictable, and a single complicated patient can dominate most of your shift because they need more detailed care.
4. Share concerns about situations & policies with leadership
If you and the other nurses are constantly dealing with the burden of overwork, don’t muscle through. Feeling exhausted all the time can lead to an unsafe work environment. Be polite but don’t minimize your difficulties. Explain your concerns to management. Even if you don’t think there will be any changes made, don’t give up. Change takes time, interdisciplinary collaboration, and approval of administration.
It might feel like an impossible task…
As hard as it may be to let go and care for yourself, it’s necessary. You are just as important as your patients. Take care of yourself and your needs, ask for help when you need it, and if you feel overwhelmed, take a moment to re-center yourself. Nursing is an extremely stressful job, but it is also incredibly rewarding. Make sure you take the time to celebrate your successes too!