Do you work 12-hour shifts as a nurse?

If the answer is yes, congratulations! You are in a respectable and philanthropically gratifying profession. Unfortunately, if you are like many dedicated shift workers, you may feel overworked, fatigued, and even burned out at times.

Everyone is aware that 12-hour shifts may be quite taxing. What are you doing for yourself to guarantee your health and well-being?

With a little planning and attention to your health, you may be a healthy nurse while also providing excellent care to your patients. It's time to prioritize nurse self-care. Listed below are 7 ways you can thrive as a nurse during a 12-hour shift:

  1.  Sleep

A good night's sleep is essential for a healthy nurse.

Self-care for nurses should be prioritized. This involves a nice night's sleep!

Nursing schedules depend on the requirement for 24-hour patient care. Sleep deprivation is a significant issue, particularly for people who work night hours. Nurse self-care begins with a restful night's (or, in certain circumstances, day's) sleep. 

  1. Workout

Exercise is beneficial to nurse health. On your days off, get your heart rate up! Exercise's advantages have been widely proven, and it is crucial for nurse self-care. It's no secret that regular exercise helps you lose weight, increase your energy, enhance your mood, and reduce your stress levels. Exercise not only benefits the nurse physically, but it also helps nurses to have the stamina to provide better care to patients.

Need to let off some steam after a long day? A yoga practice or a brisk 30-minute stroll might be beneficial. Physical exercise causes numerous brain chemicals to be released, which might make you feel happier and calmer. This, in turn, will help you manage caregiver strain and feel your best.

  1. Go grocery shopping

A healthy, well-balanced diet is critical for nursing health and wellness. To guarantee appropriate nourishment, nurses and other hospital staff must go grocery shopping. It is no secret that eating nutritious foods is essential for overall good health and well-being. Make sure you're getting enough high-density vitamins and minerals for your meal. You just cannot sustain high energy and stamina during a 12-hour shift while eating sugary snacks and quick meals!

Prepare ahead of time by making a grocery list of the things you wish to consume while at work. That way, you won't be tempted to grab anything unhealthy when you have a few minutes to eat in between patient care.

  1.  Include nutritious snacks in your shift.

When you are weary and need a little additional energy, sweets are quite tempting to snack on. However, a few seconds later you fall and become much more exhausted. Aside from that, eating good and quick snacks can keep you energized during a 12-hour shift.

Pack the following foods in your lunch bag to help keep your blood sugar levels stable during your shift:

  • Strawberries, blueberries, etc.
  • Yogurt and granola
  • Cashews or almonds

  1. Limit your caffeine intake.

Many studies indicate that coffee and tea offer tremendous health advantages while also providing an extra burst of energy. Caffeine, on the other hand, can have the opposite effect, causing rebound weariness after it leaves your system. As a result, it's a good idea to aim for moderate caffeine consumption to assist reduce rebound tiredness.

  1. Remember to drink plenty of water.

Have you ever worked a whole shift only to discover at the end that you forgot to drink water all day? It's all too simple to do when you're swamped with patients and hefty job responsibilities.

Purchase a decent water bottle with a sealable cover (to prevent accidental spillage). Keep it in the nurse's station where you perform most of your charting. Make it a point to drink water every hour throughout your shift to stay hydrated.

  1. Put on compression socks

Compression socks or stockings are a must-have for healthcare personnel who spend 12-hour shifts on their feet! Here are three primary reasons why compression socks are a must-have for all shift workers:

Varicose vein prevention: Standing for long periods weakens the valves in the veins, allowing blood to accumulate in the veins. This causes the veins to grow, expand, and stretch, resulting in unattractive varicose veins.

Improved blood flow and lower risk of blood clots: According to research published in the Society of Occupational Medicine, using compression stockings dramatically reduced lower limb venous pressure among nurses who stood for lengthy periods.

Reduced ankle and foot swelling: Swollen ankles and feet are a frequent side effect of working a 12-hour shift on one's feet.


Are you a nurse who is experiencing burnout and would like to live a healthy lifestyle? If so, read through this article and try to incorporate the tips into your daily activities. Nurse self-care should not be a last-minute consideration. Any further self-care suggestions for nurses that you'd want to provide would be appreciated. Please leave a comment!

May 12, 2023

Natasha Osei

Passionate Nurse Practitioner | People person
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