How to take a break well

Twelve and a half hour shifts with two thirty minute breaks. It’s important that in those half hours, although they go quickly, you manage to rest and reenergise before heading back on shift.

1. Hydrate! Drink, drink, drink and drink some more. I don’t need to tell you why drinking enough water is important. I try to drink at least 500mls per break.
2. Refuel! Fill yourself up with something yummy and healthy. If you eat anything heavy then you’ll return to your shift feeling uncomfortable so I recommend something light but filling. It’s a long day so pack plenty of snacks!
3. Go to the toilet! I’ve finished too many shifts without getting the chance to go to the toilet and that isn’t good! So ensure you find the time in your break. We spend all of our time caring for other people’s health, make sure to take care of your own!
4. Take time out. Whether you check your phone, talk to someone or go for a walk. Do something that takes your mind away from your work. Something I have tried since Christmas is reading on my break and it’s made a big difference! Instead of sitting there thinking about what I’ve already done and what needs to be done when I go back, I absorb myself into my book and I have found that I go back to the ward refreshed.

I understand how busy it gets and sometimes trying to even get a break can be a challenge but it’s important for yourself and for your patients that you take this time to give yourself a boost and return feeling fresh! All placement areas vary, but how often have you heard a nurse say to you that they have been too busy to even have a sip of water or go to the toilet let alone take a half an hour break? It is clear to see why this happens. We prioritise the care of our patients. Have you ever said that you will go to your break once you finish what you’re doing but then end up doing another task and then another? It’s rare to get a ‘quiet’ period so decide when you are going to go and just go! Not only will this benefit your wellbeing, but the wellbeing of your patients. As we get tired, patient safety decreases.

The Royal College of Nursing highlights that our breaks are ‘a necessity, not a luxury’ so use the tips above to make they most of your break!


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