Breaks? Nurses, please try not to laugh. Please try not to shake your fists in anger. Please try to take your breaks and hold them dear and precious.
Many nurses have learned the hard way that you have to take your breaks. If you don’t, you will certainly suffer. Many nurses have.
That said, here are the four typical breaks that a nurse can take.
Bad. Just bad. All nurses should take a break, but so many of them don’t. It is stressful to work continuously for eight or twelve hours.
In many facilities it is virtually impossible to take a break, but it is so important to find a way to just catch your breath. This type of break is far too common, and it is the most detrimental.
If you find yourself taking this type of non-break often, you need to reconsider your workflow, your job, or both.
Again, this one is a no brainer. You need to use the bathroom, and you need to use it at least every few hours.
A bathroom break is not enough of a break, but it is certainly better than no break. The pain and health risks of holding your urine are not worth the few extra minutes you would get on the floor.
What good are you to your patients if you are suffering from a bladder infection? What good are you to yourself if you are uncomfortable because your bladder is full?
Please, allow yourself to take a moment and relieve yourself. It seems like such a stupid thing to ask, and yet here we are. This is the state of nursing, unfortunately.
A scarf break means you take some time to scarf down your food and then run back out to the floor. It is a common form of break and may include a bathroom break in the process.
A scarf break is also one in which you eat while charting or performing some other work related activity. Either way, it is helpful to get some calories into your system and is far better than taking no break at all.
Think of some things you can scarf down like granola bars or cheese sticks to eat on this type of break. Your body will thank you if you treat if kindly and give it at least some form of nourishment.
Even if your scarf break is on the run, it will benefit your body, your mind, and your patients.
A full break is the gold standard of breaks, and it is what every nurse should strive for. Again, it doesn’t have to be long, but a full break consists of sitting down, eating some food, going to the bathroom, and disconnecting.
So few nurses get this type of break that it is heartbreaking. In fact, when a nurse tries to take this type of break, they are often interrupted.
Try for them anyway. Only by taking care of yourself and jealously guarding your breaks can you prevent burnout, fatigue, illness, and general job dissatisfaction.
Yes, it can be as simple as taking a break.