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How to Spend Your Days Off as a Nurse

Wondering how to spend your days off as a nurse? For most nurses who work 3 or 4, 12 hour shifts a week usually use the rest of the days to recover. I have been wondering how to maximize my time spent at home to grow as a person and reach other goals of mine. I am going to break this down into 4 parts. Each section I will ask a few questions that can hopefully guide you towards your success outside of the hospital.

  1. The night prior to a day off.

The night prior to a day off is crucial to setting yourself up for success. What I have done to improve this is keep the same sleep schedule. If you normally get up at 5:45 for your 7 am shift, allow yourself 30 extra minutes of sleep so try to wake up at 6:15. Before you go to sleep, make a check list of things that need to get done, things you want to get done, and things that will make your day great if you get done the next day. For example things I need to get done is clean 1 part of my house, exercise (for me its usually some sort of triathlon training), and usually assignments for NP school. Right there, is enough motivation to get me out of bed early on a day off. Some examples of things I want to get done would be read a couple chapters in a book, review some tips on investing, and reach out to a friend I haven’t talked to in a while. Things that can break up the must do’s easily. Then the things that will make my day great at the end of the day for example would be an online yoga session, meditation, long walk outside, or watch a movie that will hype me up (usually Marvel). So I’ll ask you:

  • Are you willing to keep the same sleep schedule for days off?

  • Can you make a to-do list and prioritize what needs to get done?

  • Are you able to check off the things that would make your day great?

  1. The morning of your day off.

As I mentioned above, creating that list the night before is crucial. Executing but executing it is everything. So, a few tips I suggest doing the morning of your day off is start it with a small win. For example, a loss for me is waking up and checking social media while laying in bed. Right there I have already thrown away 30 minutes that could have been creating a win. A win is getting up and making your bed the way you would expect to see it in a hotel. I recently read a book by a navy seal titled make your bed. It is literally that simple. Starting off your day with a win as simple as that gives you the mental edge to tackle the rest of the day with ease. A win can also be meditation, yoga, a walk outside, or reading. If you notice those are things that I wanted to get done, and I can check those off and feel good about starting the rest of my day. So I will ask you:

  • Can you list a few wins that would allow you to start your day on the right foot (feel free to take some of mine)?

  • Are you willing to give up scrolling through mindless social media posts that ultimately take time away from your success?

  1. Finding what motivates you.

Finding what motivates you is going to get you out of bed every morning. I know that depression and mental health issues causes many of us to lay in bed, let our minds wander, and not allow us to move forward. So find what motivates you. I’ll use my life as examples, and this is not meant to discourage you but rather to help you find the things that you love. For me, Advancing my career is so important. I want to be a nurse practitioner to help a wider population and get more into preventative medicine. I also love cardiorespiratory health and mental toughness, so I found that triathlon and ironman allow me to incorporate those into my life. I also enjoy sharing my knowledge that I have learned from research and communication to create content to improve others lives. So I make this my motivation to set goals. I set yearly goals, monthly goals, weekly goals, even minute by minute goals. This year my goal was to complete my first ever half IronMan. A race that may seem impossible to some. I have read books and listened to podcasts and reached out to competitors in this sport. I was naive after signing up thinking, how am I going to put in the hours that these athletes put in every week while working shifts that not only exhaust me mentally but physically too. But, follow me through my journey and see how far I have come. Now let me ask you:

  • Can you set large scale goals, then create weekly and daily goals to reach them?

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