5 Practices for Nurses to Start the Day
Does this sound familiar?
Your alarm goes off. You were either wide awake, waiting for it. Or not at all ready and immediately pound SNOOZE!
Either way- you do not want to get up out of bed.
Once you do, you walk, eyes half closed, begrudgingly to the bathroom. You jump in the shower and before you start to soap up, your mind is going a million miles a minute.
The lists of what has to get done, what hasn’t been accomplished, what might go wrong, and who you do not want to deal with at work are running a muck in your brain.
You dress quickly, noticing the clock. It’s time to rush out or you are going to be late. Grabbing your phone, bag, and keys you run out of the house.
Set Up is Everything
Wow. Not a way to start the day. But the reality is, most nurses do just this.
We don’t eat breakfast. There’s no time for self-care. And thinking about work and what lies ahead makes us dread the work day.
This is not the way to succeed in nursing. In life, really!
Couple lack of sleep, rushed behavior, and lack of self-care into one giant mixing bowl… you have got a recipe for disaster!
Starting your day in a specific way is key. Getting into a few routine practices is the difference between an awesome or terrible shift ahead.
Here Are 5 Practices for Nurses to Start the Day Strong!
Create an Ideal Resting Environment
Ashley Pofit Miller, RN, BSN, PCCN a nurse with 6 years of experience as a registered nurse in telemetry, medical-surgical, cath lab, step-down ICU, and clinical education talked about protecting the sleep environment on the Your Next Shift podcast.
When asked about her habits that she would attribute to her nursing career success, she immediately laughed and blurted out: “Upping your bed game…”
Ashley reminded nurses listening that creating that ideal sleep environment so that you can receive quality, proper rest is crucial for any nurse to succeed in this profession.
So take a look around. Assess your own sleep environment. What is working? What needs to go? Where do changes need to be made? And my goodness… turn off the cell phone! Get off of Facebook. Close up the laptop and turn off the TV.
The earlier you get to bed… especially the days you need to wake up and get into work… the easier it is going to be! Trust me, as someone who goes to bed between 8 and 9 o’clock… I know that this habit works.
Prepare Ahead of Time
In addition to getting to bed earlier, a healthy practice that will help a nurse start their day is prepping for the day ahead of time.
There are several ways that you can do this:
- Use one of your off days to prep meals ahead of time. Make things that are easily stored and then re-heated or eaten chilled. These could be full meals, breakfast items to grab on-the-go, or even healthy snacks.
- Lay your clothes out the night before. Even if your clothes are scrubs and you have your uniform picked out for you. I am talking everything you are going to wear and need to get to work… put it out the night before to eliminate that rushed feeling in the morning.
- Before bed, get into the habit of doing a mindful appreciation. This could mean writing down three things that you are grateful for. Journaling about what went well at work that day. Or just taking time to remember and reflect why you went into nursing in the first place. Putting yourself in a positive mindset the day before will help you wake up easier the next day.
- If you work in an office or out of your home, clear off your desk the night before. Get your calendar prepped for the next day. Make some mental notes about the kinds of things you will be working on in the morning. Starting with a fresh, clean desk will help!
Wake Up Earlier
Trust me, if I stayed up until 11 pm, I would not want to do this one either. So, it is crucial that you get to bed earlier in order to get into the practice of waking up earlier.
That being said, your body does need the time. Even if you just set the alarm for an earlier time and then use those extra minutes to lie in bed, just allowing yourself to calmly wake up… that will make a world of difference.
Shocking your body into waking up in the morning is not a healthy habit. Your body needs a gentle introduction- in mind, body, and spirit- before you head into the work day.
Waking up earlier will also give you time for…
Journal, Sit, Read, or Reflect
Whatever you want to do, just get into a healthy habit practice before sprinting off to the workday.
This one is where you can get creative. Some suggestions do include: writing in a journal, sitting with a nice cup of coffee and just looking out the window, or reading a good book.
Use some time in the morning to set your intention for the day. Meditate. Practice yoga. Give yourself a Reiki treatment. Get on the exercise bike.
The sky’s the limit!
It is really up to you. Just give yourself 30 minutes, 15 at the very least if that is all that you can spare. And get into the habit of practicing something healthy to start your day off right.
You Gotta Eat Something
I can speak to this from experience!
I was the nurse who rushed to work with seconds to spare. I got up as late as humanly possible, showered in a jiffy, and ran out of the house. Then one shift, I was on rounds with the attending. It was a weekend so it was just he and I.
I was in a patient’s room. It was very hot because she was feeling cold. I started to feel dizzy and before I knew it, I had to step out and sit down. I almost fainted!
The room was spinning and I was seeing spots. The techs and other nurses on the unit came over to me and took my vitals. The attending… well, he went down to the cafeteria and got me something to eat! How embarrassing…
Your work as a nurse is physically intense and emotionally draining. You have to eat in order to concentrate. In order to show up and provide the best for your patients. In order to… not become a patient yourself!
So using the tips above, make sure you eat something before (or at the very least- on the way to) work. Making some snacks or healthy meals ahead will help. Getting up earlier and allowing yourself time before the workday will make this possible.
So what are some of your tips and tricks to starting your day off right? What other practices would you share with nurses so that they begin their work in a positive way? Share a comment below to help another nurse out! Thanks for reading. And if you would like a copy of this article to share with your nursing staff, download a PDF copy by clicking here.
About the Author: Keynote speaker and virtual conference host, Elizabeth Scala MSN/MBA, RN, partners with hospitals, nursing schools, and nurse associations to transform the field of nursing from the inside out. As the bestselling author of ‘Nursing from Within’, Elizabeth guides nurses and nursing students to a change in perspective, helping them make the inner shift needed to better maneuver the sometimes challenging realities of being a caregiver. Elizabeth received her dual master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. She is also a certified coach and Reiki Master Teacher. Elizabeth lives in Maryland with her supportive husband and playful pit bull.