October 27, 2022

3 Tips To Transition To 8 Hour Shifts as a Nurse

3 Tips To Transition To 8 Hour Shifts as a Nurse

Missing out on important moments like dinner with your family? Or your kids soccer games? Or best friends wedding?  Having a hard time getting sufficient rest before going to work the next day? Are you feeling absolutely exhausted after your 12 hour shift really turned into 14 hours? 

Then you might want to consider switching to 8-hour shifts, if possible. Not only does it give you the ability to send your kids off to school in the morning, or tuck them in at night (depending on what shift you’re working), but it also gives you more time for self-care, running errands, and going to the gym. Added bonus -  weekends and holidays off.

In addition, time goes by fairly quickly when working 8-hour shifts. Just when you feel like leaving, it's time to get ready for shift change and patient handoff to the oncoming shift. So if you’ve decided to give 8-hour shifts a try and are wanting some tips on how to smoothly transition, then keep on reading. 

Tip 1: Prepare Your Meals Ahead of Time

Packing your lunch the night before work is one way to successfully prepare for your shift the following day. Consider making double the portion of food for dinner or simply putting aside the leftovers for tomorrow's lunch. Of course it is easy to buy something at work or DoorDash lunch but buying food and eating out can add up over time, plus it will cut into your already short 30-minute lunchtime (that’s IF you get a lunch, which legally you’re supposed to but you know how it’s been lately). There are many other pros to doing this. Meal prepping ensures a more nutritionally balanced lunch plus you know exactly what ingredients were used and how the food was prepared. 

Quick tips: 

  • Pack healthy snacks you can enjoy during your breaks

  • Eat a variety of foods for brain and body health

    • Veggies, healthy carbs and fats, fruits

  • Get your groceries delivered to your home

    • It will save you time, and lower the chance of making poor choices by purchasing unhealthy foods. Also, you’re less likely to overspend and can save money on gas.

  • Hydrate throughout the shift

    • Carrying a refillable water bottle with you will encourage you to take sips and stay hydrated.

    • Set a daily fluid intake goal and do your best to stick to it. You can purchase a water bottle like this one to help with the fluid intake timeline. 

  • Pack your kid’s lunch boxes the night before as well.

Tip 2:  Lay Out Work Clothes The Night Before

For a morning that flows well, pick out your work outfit/scrubs, and pack your work bag, shoes, socks, and jacket the night before. If you have children, you can also teach them to set aside their outfits for the next day. Have them pack their backpack and set it next to their outfit. This will save some time in the morning for cooking and breakfast with the family before sending the kids off to school, and going to work. Also, it will create healthy habits early on and show them the importance of time management. The last thing you want to do is start your day with a hectic, stressful and unorganized morning.

Tip 3: Go To Bed Early

We are all guilty of crawling into bed at a reasonable hour and then scrolling through TikTok or Instagram for hours. Not exactly the best thing the night before work. In order to function to the best of your ability, you must get good sleep the night before. It is beneficial for overall health, and it is critical for every process in the body. To ensure you sleep well, try turning off electronics, screens, and any anxiety-promoting content such as scary movies one hour before bedtime. Taking a hot bath before going to bed can help you wind down and relax. I like having blackout curtains in my room, and I keep the temperature on the cooler side. Additionally, I don’t rush my bedtime routine. Once I get the kids in bed, I give myself an hour to unwind before laying down. My family and kids need a healthy and happy mama, so I absolutely HAVE to get my sleep in order to be that for them.

Making the transition from 12 to 8-hour shifts can be exciting for many nurses, especially those who have families! They are able to spend more time with them, enjoy having weekends and holidays off, and have ample time for self-care in between shifts. Overall, they claim it’s not as overwhelming as working 12 hours, and they have a better quality of life. With that being said, the transition to those shorter, Monday to Friday shifts can be an adjustment! To have that smooth transition, you can plan and prepare ahead of time or the night before. This goes for lunch, outfits for yourself and the kids, work bag and the kid’s backpacks. Doing these things will allow the mornings before work to be less rushed and chaotic for everyone. 

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