5 Energy Hacks For RNs Who Work Long Shifts

If you are a RN, you know that long hours and the more-than-occasional emergency shift can have you running a ragged edge in a matter of days. The nursing profession is a demanding one, and it is essential for you to keep your energy high. When you notice that you are getting less energetic and less alert, it is time to take emergency action. While you can’t just head home for a nap, make sure that you check out these healthy hacks to get your back on your feet and doing your job.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by Walt Stoneburner
While eating something sugary can cause a nasty energy crash later on down the line, the right snack can give you a great energy boost. Ideally, you’ll be able to get a snack that combines a complex carbohydrate with a low-fat protein. Not only do you get your energy up through the stimulation of eating, you will also find that the complex carbohydrate keeps you sustained as you continue to work. Consider cheese and crackers, or yogurt and fruit for this hack.
If you can spare five minutes from your station, take a quick walk or even a run. Getting your heart rate up can do wonders for your energy level, and it is a good way to wake yourself up if you have been feeling drowsy. Any kind of aerobic exercise can help you feel more awake and more alert. If you are pressed for time, even five jumping jacks can help. Some people find that they can trick their bodies feeling more energetic by starting the shift off with a brisk walk, and similarly, taking a walk after eating your lunch can prevent you from dragging after you have eaten.
Have a Mint
If you feel yourself flagging, take a moment to consider having a mint. According to TLC Family, peppermint is frequently used in aromatherapy as a stimulant, which allows the user to concentrate and to stay awake [http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/aromatherapy-peppermint.htm.] Even if you don’t have a few hours to spare for an aromatherapy session, consider this quick fix when you are feeling down. The brisk cool smell of the candy can wake you up, and the stimulation of having candy in your mouth can make you more alert. A single peppermint is fairly low in sugar and will not risk a sugar crash.
While too much talk can keep you from doing your work and talking with negative co-workers can make you feel drained, a small amount of chatting with your co-workers can leave you feeling energized. A small amount of social interaction help you wake up and boost your mood immensely. One problem that many RNs have is that they feel isolated. They may start working long hours, and they end up missing time with their family and their friends. If you need a quick energy boost, consider calling someone that you care about and just having a five minute chat. This is something that can help bolster your spirits and your energy immensely.
Go Outside
The human body is very open to cues from the environment, and if it is still bright out there, make sure that you get out in the sunlight. Sunlight on your eyes will cue your body that it is time to get up and be active, even if you have been working for a while. Many hospitals are set up so that you can go your entire shift without seeing sunlight, so take advantage of this natural energy boost. Some nurses, especially ones who are working the night shift, choose to bring portable full-spectrum lights with them, which give them many of the same benefits of sunlight.
Paul Reece is an ER nurse and guest author at RN to BSN Online, a site with information about top-rated online RN to BSN programs.