This Post-Shift Technique Helps Nurses Feel Better After Work

4 Min Read Published March 23, 2022
This Post-Shift Technique Helps Nurses Feel Better After Work

Picture this…you leave at the end of your shift, you are replaying all the things you didn’t do well enough, and your mind is spinning or you are honestly just feeling numb. The imposter syndrome is real, you are starving, your feet are aching, and your to-do list at home is looming over you. It not only seems impossible to process the day but you also dread going home because you don’t feel like rest (true rest) awaits you. But despite that, you just want to get home and get as far away from the day as possible.

Overwhelm spirals into shut down. 

Even though you wish it were different you default to unhealthy habits and any activity to minimize the emotional turmoil. You are flatlined emotionally until your head hits the pillow then the day’s events play like a broken record and keep you awake despite your need for rest. 

Are you familiar with this feeling? I sure am.

But what if I told you there is a proven tool that can help you break this cycle or prevent it in the first place? This is a tool that helped me for years in my darkest days and one I still use now in the post burnout era of my life. 

Best part? It’s free and you don’t need anything other than YOU and a few minutes to do it. This post-shift reflection tool is a way that you can gain control of your emotions and will help you interrupt the autopilot of the churn and burn. It provides an opportunity to check in with yourself, bring you back to the present moment and determine the best way to fulfill your basic human needs, and start to heal your trauma and emotional distress.

Self-awareness and self-love are essential burnout repellents.  

7 Questions To Ask Yourself - Post Shift Reflection: 

Outlined below are a few essential questions to ask yourself before you even leave the parking lot. Scroll down for the full templates!

  1. What am I feeling right now? Name the emotion! Do so without passing judgment on yourself. Naming it will help you move through it, help you understand your needs and how to best tend to them.
  2. What is triggering me? Knowing your triggers helps you take action whether it be setting boundaries, adjusting your lifestyle, self-advocating or making a change. 
  3. What do I want to feel right now? Set the intention and identify your desires. Know what you value, what brings you joy and give yourself permission to act in alignment with that. 
  4. What is step ONE to get to that feeling? You don’t need to see the whole staircase, just the first step. Then take the leap. Intention without action results in no changes.  But have realistic expectations for yourself, be kind to yourself and remember, start small.  Small shifts will boost confidence and empower you to keep moving forward.
  5. What is at least one thing I did really well today? Celebrate those wins! Celebrating your wins will help boost your confidence, improve self-talk, decrease imposter syndrome and remind you that you are doing far better than you think. 
  6. What could I have done differently today/what will I do differently tomorrow? Remember failure is just feedback. We are always in the process of learning and growing and that’s a good thing! Recognizing the areas where you need extra support is important and will help you continue to feel fulfillment at your job and in life. No one has it all figured out!  
  7. Am I operating beyond my limits? If so, is there a boundary I can set? What can I do to decompress my life? Can I delegate, eliminate, automate or ask for help? 

Then breathe and take a pause. Breathe. My personal favorite breathing technique is box breathing. This is where you breathe in for 4, hold for 4, breathe out through your mouth for 4, and pause for 4. Repeat PRN. 

Download the FREE Post-Shift Reflection Template Here

A bad shift doesn’t make you a bad nurse.  

Living every moment of every day like you are working in a level 1 trauma center will take a toll on you and your mental health. Bring down your fight or flight response with a post-shift reflection, improved self-awareness, self-love and a pause.  

And remember it doesn’t need to be complicated. Some days it may be simple…where you just simply check with yourself to identify the emotion that you are feeling and where it is coming from. Other days you will journal on it and reflect on all of these prompts. Simple doesn’t mean unimportant and it’s about quality, not quantity.  

I encourage you to incorporate a post reflection as part of your post shift ritual whether it be two minutes or ten minutes. Consistency will not only help you make it a habit but also will help rewire your thought patterns to patterns that serve you better mentally.  

We aren’t meant to do life or nursing alone. I’m always here to help you on your nurse life balance journey. 

Post-shift reflection template

Download the FREE Post-Shift Reflection Template Here

For more free resources visit Diana's website

Diana Page
Diana Page Contributor

Diana Page, ACNP-BC, is an outpatient neurology nurse practitioner, burnout expert, and mentor helping exhausted nursing professionals have optimal work life balance through mentorship, education, empowerment, and community. She founded Selfcare Catalyst LLC in 2020 and has helped dozens of nurses find fulfillment outside of work and clarity on their place in nursing, and has connected with and supported 1000s though her social media platforms. She is a leader on topics related to Nurse/APP wellbeing and burnout and is a believer that we are more than a nurse and that we deserve care too. Diana is a self-proclaimed boundaries queen, self-care strategist and loves a good PTO day! Learn more about Diana and check out her free resources for clinician wellbeing at or check out her Instagram @catalystforselfcare where she posts daily tips to help you feel empowered to put yourself first and more fulfilled while working in healthcare.

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