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The nurse’s quick and dirty guide to having more energy


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Energy is a rare commodity in nursing. Somehow, we always seem to be on a “negative energy balance.” Between life outside of work and all things related to work–including being on your feet 96 percent of your shift with little time to think, eat, pee or even breathe–we all would love an answer to the question, “What’s a quick and dirty way to have more energy?”

While I’m sure most of us would simply say, “More coffee,” there are better actions we can take to gain some energy, even while we’re on shift. Here are the methods I’ve found that are simple yet effective:

Get some sleep

  • You know I had to go with the most obvious suggestions. I know, I know, if you could get the sleep you need, you wouldn’t be tired! I hear ya. But whether from a long shift or the myriad of life responsibilities, losing sleep is a very real handicap. While I don’t have a magic wand that will extend the number of hours in a given night, I would highly suggest you utilize the time you do have. The power nap is a powerful, powerful tool. How about taking a power nap in your car before or after your shift, or even during a break? You would be amazed at how effective even five full minutes of silence can be.

Keep the doctor away

  • With an apple, that is! I remember reading about energy-boosting foods (and how everyone’s mainstay for the “get up and go” was coffee); eating an apple can actually increase your alertness just as well, if not more, than a cup of joe does. I thought this was a bunch of malarkey until I tried it!
  • While we’re on the subject, eating almost any fruit will help boost that energy on some level.

Get off your feet

  • I don’t know about you, but I have been known to spend my entire day standing. I even stand to chart! I’ve always been afraid that if I sit down…I’ll never get back up on some shifts! I would suggest figuring out intermittent moments to relieve the pressure off those feet and take even three minutes to just sit.

Change your socks

  • This is more of a “mind trick,” but I gotta tell you, it’s a good one. During my military days, I remember having to change our socks halfway through a long “hump” (hike). It was to keep our feet “fresh” and help them not get blistered. You’d be amazed at what a new, fresh pair of socks will do for your psyche. Keep in mind, this would require you to plan ahead and have an extra pair handy.

Drink water

  • This is pretty self-explanatory on so many levels. But if you need a reason, a well hydrated brain is a sharp brain.

None of my suggestions are life-altering discoveries, I know. But I promise, if you try at least one of them, you’ll find just a little bit more pep in your step.

What do you do to get more energy?

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