10 tips to thrive during a 12-hour shift

When you’re juggling countless hours on your feet, and navigating physical and emotional demands –  we know those 12-hour shifts feel like marathons for amazing health and care workers like you! But here’s the thing: you can not only survive, but thrive during those long days.

Here are our top 10 tips to fuel your energy, boost your mood, and remind you of the incredible impact you make every day:

 1. Prioritise a good night’s sleep

It all starts with quality sleep. To wake up refreshed and ready, try these sleep tips, especially if you’re catching Zzzz’s during the day:

   – Use an eye mask to keep light at bay.

   – Fit blackout blinds in your bedroom for undisturbed rest.

   – Keep earplugs close to hand for those times when the neighbour decides to mow the lawn just when you need to sleep the most!

   – During the day, a polite note on your door can help minimise interruptions from deliveries.

   – Silence your mobile to dodge those annoying sales calls.

“Ensuring a good sleep is crucial for my 12-hour shifts. Blackout blinds and an eye mask have been game-changers for me,” shares Emma, an NHS Nurse.

2. Begin with a wholesome breakfast

Start your day with a breakfast that’s not only tasty but energising too. A solid breakfast, like porridge with nuts and fruit or a veggie omelette, lays the groundwork for a successful shift.

3. Stay hydrated

Keeping your energy up means staying hydrated. Aim for at least 2 litres of water during your shift. Initially, you might find yourself taking more comfort breaks, but your body will adjust. A reusable water bottle is a handy way to keep water on hand. There are even app’s out there now that help you to track your water intake!

“I never realised how much staying hydrated could improve my focus and energy levels until I made it a priority,” says Rachael, a Health Care Assistant.

4. Smart snacking

Have a stash of healthy snacks like almonds, carrot sticks, or whole-grain crackers. These small boosts of energy can be lifesavers, especially when you hit a mid-shift low.

5. Comfortable footwear

Good shoes are crucial. Invest in supportive, comfy footwear to keep your feet happy all day. As a care worker, you’re entitled to discounts on certain brands with a Blue Light Discount card – a nice little perk worth checking out.

6. Take short breaks

Even brief moments away from your duties can refresh your mind. Take breaks when you can and go for a walk. Do some deep breathing, gentle stretches, or just simply have a quiet moment. It’s like pressing the reset button on your stress levels.

7. Connect with colleagues

A quick chat or a shared laugh with colleagues can make all the difference. They understand the rigours of long shifts and can offer support like no one else, fostering a sense of camaraderie.

“The support and understanding from colleagues are what get me through the toughest days. We’re in it together,” Jamie, Care Assistant

8. Utilise mindfulness technology

Apps like Headspace or Calm offer free mindfulness exercises. Just 5 minutes of meditation can lessen stress and boost focus – like having a personal tranquillity guide.

9. Find joy in small moments

Take time to appreciate the little things, like a patient’s smile or a heartfelt thank you from someone. These moments of joy are precious, brightening the most demanding days.

“It’s the small moments, like a thank you from a patient, that remind me why I do what I do,” Priya, Social Care Nurse.

10. Reflect on your impact

At the end of your shift, take a moment to think about the difference you’ve made. Your dedication significantly affects others’ lives, reminding you of the value of your hard work, despite the long hours.

Remember, it’s all about balance, and these tips are sure to positively impact your well-being. Each shift presents its own challenges, but by incorporating these strategies, you’re not just surviving; you’re thriving. Whether you’re an NHS nurse, a social care nurse, a care worker, or a support worker, these tips are tailored to help you manage the demands of your role with grace and resilience.

You might also be interested in:

– 5 tips to help prevent achy feet on a long shift

– 10 ways to get better sleep after a night shift

– 12 Tips to stay warm on shift

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