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The 5 best ways to wind down after a 12 hour shift

Monday, August 8th, 2016 | Blog

12 hour shifts can take a heavy toll on both the body and mind, this is why it’s vital to wind down after a long shift. There are small steps you can take to ensure your body relaxes, giving you the best night’s rest possible.

1.     Listen to some relaxing music

Most people enjoy listening to music, but many don’t realise the positive cognitive effects it can have. A study published in 2013 tested the positive effects of music on the human body; six subjects were asked to listen to the noise of soothing music, water droplets and no sound at all. It was found that those who listened to the soothing music were more likely to recover from stress.  When you get back from a long shift, just take half an hour to listen to some relaxing music. It will give you a chance to get out of work mode, and set you up for a good rest.

2.      Have a long shower or bath

You should be jumping in the shower/bath after a long shift on the ward regardless, but don’t just view it as a way of cleaning yourself. You want to relax and take a few moments to reflect upon your day, think about what you’ve achieved and what you plan to do the following day. Once you’ve finished bathing, no more thoughts of work.

3.      Eat healthily

After a long shift, it’s all too tempting to order some take-out food  - afterall, the last thing you want to be doing is cooking and who doesn’t enjoy a good Chinese take-away? A healthy diet is key to getting a good night’s rest though. The National Sleep Foundation recommends a light snack before bed rather than something heavy in carbohydrates. Properly cooking a meal will help take your mind off any work woes; you could even use this time preparing food to listen to some soothing music as aforementioned.

4.      Read a book

Reading can help reduce stress; so much so that just reading a book for six minutes can help reduce stress levels by up to 68%. It really is one of the best ways to shut off from the outside world, meaning you can stop any thoughts about work or anything else that you have to do. This is another thing you can do that can be doubled up with some music - and you could even light some candles for that extra relaxing vibe.

5.      Sleep

Nothing else relaxes and refreshes the body like sleep; that’s why we need at least 7-9 hours of it per night in order to function properly the next day. If you’re really tired after a 12-hour shift, do the minimum amount of stuff you need to and get yourself into bed. Any social calls, or day-to-day tasks can wait until you’ve had the necessary amount of rest. Delaying sleep will only make you more tired which can reduce the quality of your sleep.

So that’s 5 ways you can wind down after a 12-hour shift, are there any ways you like to relax after a long shift? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

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