Self Care During Your Shift

Want to listen to a podcast about self care during your shift? Check out the NSN Shift Support Podcast!

Hey, friends! It’s been a while. I have had a rough end to 2023/start to 2024. I ended up spending Christmas and New Years in bed with Covid. Then, the end of January I had what I thought was a small bug bite that ended up being a brown recluse spider bite that landed me in the hospital for IV antibiotics. Needless to say, it’s been a rough two months. However, I’m hoping things are finally on the upswing! Although, I still have a wound requiring daily care from my spider bite.

The time off had me thinking about self care and how a lot of time we focus on the self care we need to do before and after our shift, but what about taking care of ourselves during our shift? We work in high stress environments, with high emotions, and long shifts. We deserve to care for ourselves during our shifts as well as after. Below I’m share some simple ways to take a moment to care for you during your next shift.

Self care during your shift

Deep Breaths

I am always amazed at the power of breath. Before I go into a room, when I’m in the supply closet- wherever it may be- taking a moment to take a few slow, deep, controlled breaths can have so much power in bringing down anxiety and stress and allowing you to think more clearly.

Pause at the pump

This is something I use to do when I was getting overstimulated or overwhelmed in a room. Maybe the pump keeps beeping, there is a large mess to clean up, the patient is agitated- whatever it may be- taking a moment to “program” the pump was a way I could take a moment to take a deep breath and gather my thoughts. I walk up, put my hands on the pump (silent if it’s beeping) and take a deep breath while deciding what I need to get done and in what order. You also could stand at the computer “looking at the chart” to gain a moment to breath and think. It may seem silly, but it really is helpful when you are overwhelmed in a room! Especially if it’s a precautions room and you don’t want to remove your PPE to step out.

Hydrate/Eat something!

You cannot be a good nurse without hydration and food. Your brain will not function as well. I have gone shifts without eating, I have walked out with a full water bottle. I totally understand how short staffed we are and how sick patients are. However, you deserve to take care of yourself. Scrub Snacks are one of my favorite hacks- a small snack that can fit in a scrub pocket that I can eat on the fly. I know- no food at the nurses station- but if I don’t get a break, I’m grabbing a snack! These are even great to duck in a bathroom, break room, or empty patient room to sneak a bite. Think granola bars, beef jerky sticks, square of chocolate, cheese sticks, mixed nuts..


Repeating positive affirmations has been show to reduce stress and anxiety. Below are a few affirmations you can use to help support you during your next shift!

  • I am strong in times of challenges.
  • My work and care matters.
  • I am knowledgable.


I have a neck and back injury that have caused me pain for years, but even without that, the magic of taking a moment on your break or stepping into the supply room to stretch can help relax your body and ease the pain of a 12 hour shift.

These are just a few ways you can work to take care of yourself during a shift! Nursing and health care are hard. They require so much of us. It is important we care ourselves before, after, and during our shift.

Sending you love for a smooth shift and a great week! What do you during a shift to care for yourself? please share in the comments!