Benefits of Taking a Break for Nurses

July 10, 2024
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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You can’t pour from an empty cup! To provide the best care possible, you’ve got to refill yours first. Self-care is good for anyone, but for nurses, it should be an absolute priority. Taking breaks helps prevent you from feeling overwhelmed and burnt out. 

Studies have shown that taking regular breaks helps you feel more productive, rested, and less stressed. Taking a break doesn’t just benefit you — it benefits everyone around you, especially your clients! This blog explores the many benefits of slowing down and taking a break. 

What Is Burnout in Nursing?

Burnout never feels great. But in nursing, it can cause costly mistakes — and risk lives. Nurses suffering from burnout is a widespread issue, but do you know the signs? Recognizing the signs of burnout is the first step toward managing it. Common signs of burnout include: 

  • Emotional Exhaustion: Feeling drained and emotionally depleted.
  • Depersonalization: Developing a callous or unfeeling response towards patients due to emotional fatigue.
  • Reduced Personal Accomplishment: Feeling that your professional efforts make no difference.
  • Detachment: Increasing feelings of cynicism or negativity related to your job. This might include feeling disconnected from your work, patients, and the people at work. 
  • Physical Symptoms: Suffering from physical ailments, including headaches, stomachaches, intestinal issues, and frequent illnesses. Chronic stress weakens the immune system and makes the body more susceptible to infections.
  • Mental Health Issues: Increasing mental health struggles, like depression and anxiety, which leave you feeling hopeless, sad, and fearful. 
  • Sleep Disturbances: Experiencing difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking frequently, all of which are signs of deteriorating mental health.
  • Irritability: Increasing irritability or angry outbursts may affect relationships with your patients and their families. 
  • Decreased Attention and Concentration: Difficulty concentrating or paying attention can result from the mental fatigue associated with burnout, which can increase mistakes. 

The Many Benefits of Taking Breaks as a Nurse

Regular breaks are not a luxury. Taking a break is a strategic approach to maintaining health and enhancing job performance. At Care Options for Kids, we encourage our nurses to take regular breaks and take advantage of their flexible schedules. This means taking long weekends, traveling often, or just taking some time off to recharge. Taking some time for yourself brings many benefits: 

  • Mental Health Rejuvenation: Disconnecting helps reset your stress levels and can reduce feelings of burnout.
  • Improved Job Satisfaction: Time away refreshes your perspective and increases your satisfaction and effectiveness at work. 
  • Improves Concentration: Regular breaks help maintain consistent performance levels throughout the day. Without breaks, attention and concentration can decline rapidly, decreasing your level of care for your patients.
  • Reduces Stress: Taking short breaks during long tasks lessens the accumulated physical and emotional stress, leading to better moods and performance.
  • Improves Memory and Learning: Breaks enhance cognitive brain function, particularly in memory and learning. Information processing and retention improve when the brain is allowed periodic rests.
  • Increases Engagement: When people know they have a break coming up, they engage more intensely with their work in anticipation of the upcoming pause, leading to more effective use of time.

Strategies for Effective Breaks as a Nurse

There are many ways to make the most of your breaks. Here are some strategies to ensure you're genuinely benefiting from your downtime.

  • Quality Time Off: Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. This could be anything from reading a book to spending time outdoors. Here at Care Options for Kids, we offer a flexible schedule. This means you can take time for yourself without feeling guilty!
  • Mindfulness and Relaxation: Meditation or simple breathing exercises can significantly reduce stress. 
  • Change Your Environment: During a break, try to change your surroundings. On your days off from work, change your surroundings. Take a walk in a new park or beach, and then check out a new restaurant or store.
  • Avoid Screens: To reduce eye strain and mental fatigue, avoid excessive use of electronic devices during your shifts. Only use your phone or tablet to chart per employer guidelines.
  • Socialize: Socializing can be a great way to spend a break. The great thing about home health is you can always talk to your families or coworkers about non-work topics to relax. 
  • Find a Supportive Environment: Care Options for Kids' culture promotes wellness through mentorship opportunities, touchpoints with your manager, and social activities to get to know other nurses. 

Breaks Come Easier in Pediatric Home Health

It’s hard to squeeze in breaks when juggling multiple patients and pushing your limits in long, back-to-back hospital shifts. With pediatric home health, breaks come easier. You’ve got the familiarity of a patient you know deeply, so you can anticipate their needs while accommodating your own. During their downtime, you can take a few minutes for yourself. In addition, you have schedule flexibility and paid time off to ensure you’re getting relaxation and rejuvenation when you’re away from work. At Care Options for Kids, we want our clients to live their best lives, and we know that only happens when our caregivers are living theirs. Would you like more breaks in your days?

Join the Care Options For Kids Team!

Are you ready for meaningful work that comes with benefits and not burnout? Join the compassionate care team that helps children and families live their best lives. Our clinicians provide best-in-class pediatric nursing, therapy, and school-based services. We bring individualized care to children where they live, work, and play. We have opportunities in homes, schools, and clinics across the country.

Apply at Care Options for Kids now. We make it easy to start so you can make a difference as soon as possible.