Keeping Your Energy and Your Health Intact During a Nursing Shift

By Alice Burron on Thu, Sep 27, 2012

nursing shift and nurses healthIf you’re right in the middle of a long nursing shift and starting to run out of energy, what should you do? Don’t reach for the sugary beverages or energy drinks. Instead, try these successful energy-building interventions that will keep you going strong and at the same time boost nurses' health.

Drink water. When the day gets busy, it’s easy to forget to hydrate. So, set a timer or get in the habit of getting a drink on the hour. Symptoms of dehydration can include feeling sluggish. Proper hydration increases the efficiency of important physiological functions, reduces the perception of stress, and keeps intra- and extracellular fluids balanced. The harder you work, the more water you should drink.


Snack smart. Snacking aids in controlling blood sugar and insulin levels, which will keep you from experiencing those low-energy times during the day. Depending on your daily calorie goals, snack from two to three times throughout an entire day and in controlled portions. Snacking will also keep you from reaching for unhealthy temptations. Here are some great snack ideas for you to try:

  • ½ cup of nonfat yogurt sprinkled with 2 tablespoons of granola and topped with fresh berries
  • 1 pre-packaged 100 calorie bag of salt-free nuts with a banana
  • 1 apple with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter for dipping
  • Unlimited celery and carrot sticks with nurses healthhummus for dipping
  • Whole-grain crackers (small handful) with 2 ounces of Farmer’s or low-fat Mozzarella cheese, or tuna salad, and sliced cucumber, tomato, or sprouts
  • Salad mixed with grilled chicken and low-fat dressing (Put it in a container with a lid, pour dressing just before eating, then just shake and eat!)

Stretch regularly. Stretching exercises during a nursing shift increases blood flow to muscles that haven’t recently been used or that are tight. Loose muscles feel light and ready for action. Stretching also provides a mental break for nurses' health.

  • Hamstring stretch. Take a small step forward with your left foot. Straighten your left leg and bend your right knee slightly. Lift toes up on your left foot and lean forward, keeping your back flat and chest forward. You will feel the stretch in your back and the back of your left thigh. For a great stretch, lift toes up more. Hold for a count of ten, then switch legs.
  • Quad stretch. Stand tall, bend your right leg behind you at the knee and grasp your right pant leg or toes with your right hand, keeping your right knee pointed toward the ground. Pull gently to stretch the front of the thigh, hip and shin. Tilt the pelvis forward and keep both knees together for the greatest stretch.
  • Chest stretch. Stand tall with feet hip width apart. Reach arms straight out to sides with palm facing in front. Squeeze shoulder blades and push chest out to feel the stretch in your chest and the front of your shoulders. Hold for as long as you desire.
  • Side bends. While standing, take your left arm straight up, and bring your right arm down. Bend slightly to the right with your left arm leading the way. Hold each side stretch for 10 seconds, then switch sides.
    nursing shift and nurses health
  • Shoulder and upper back stretch. While standing, reach hands behind the body and grasp hands together. Keeping arms straight, gently pull arms up. Tilt head back and look up at the same time and bend back gently while tucking pelvis in. Hold for 10 seconds or more. Feel free to repeat these excersises and be amaze of it's benefits to nurses' health.

Completing a nursing shift does not have to be stressful. Keep these proven energy-building strategies and you'll breeze through the day with ease.