3 Work Tips To Get The Best Out Of Any Shift

Jan 26, 2021 | Aussie Nurse


When there is great deal to do on a busy shift, with the added time pressures and the work load that just keeps growing. The work absorbs all of our attention and concentration, it feels never ending. 

I was thinking of realistic tips that I have picked up over the years as a nurse, tips that can be done especially at work to help bring a person back to the present, the hard bit is actually recognising our own feelings especially when we are overwhelmed.



3 Tips For Nurses At Work –

1. Breathe

Being constantly braced for the next task or problem to be solved, it’s easy to forget to breathe properly at times. Breathing or the passage of air is only 16 breaths per minute, but when we feel stressed our breathing rate and pattern changes- the breathes may be more frequent, small and shallow.

Changing to actively breath properly by inhaling and exhaling and taking deep breaths may reduce stress and help us to connect to whatever may come next.

There are many different breathing techniques such as the 4-7-8 technique, 7/11 breathing technique and many 1 minute meditations too which can be found on Youtube or apps like Headspace.

But when I’m at work and don’t have the opportunity to find space for 5 minutes, I use 3 deep breaths to allow me to centre myself – it is quick to use in places that are away from distractions like the medication room. This super simple method is by repeating the deep breaths, only 3 times –

  • breathe in deeply and gently,
  • breathe out slowly and gently,
  • repeat 3 times.

This technique slows down the heart beat, grounds a person with feeling more energised and then we’re ready to tackle the next thing.

“We rise by lifting others”

 – Robert Ingersoll

2. Mantra’s aka Power Word’s

Its never fair and never acceptable but as nurses we do experience aggression towards us, hospitals or any health setting are difficult environments to be in. Anger seems to possess people and I often wonder if it due to fear, which leads to their bursts of losing control of temper and releasing anger towards health professionals. 

If someone is being verbally aggressive to me and I feel like I am in a heightened state, its starts to feel as though I am shutting down and I don’t actually know what the person is saying to me at that time. I found to keep myself calm, I have a few simple 3-4 worded mantras in my ‘back pocket’ that are super helpful in any sudden conflict situations.

Having these words that are personal to myself and saying them repeatedly internally in my head, allows me to create some calmness within myself and it gives room to assess the situation, for example- Is it safe or do I need help? Do I need to get out? etc. 

The words of a mantra help me to focus with saying a narrative to myself that doesn’t inflame the situation or make it worse, it gives me time. Later when I leave the room/area and once I’ve had a chance to breathe, to calm a little then I can take the time to digest what was actually happening and then take appropriate actions and debrief too.

Mantras/Power Word’s do need to have meaning and resonate with you, so its important to make the words of the mantra very specific to you. Here are some common everyday examples of mantras- 

1. “I am…” – (Can add – “I am patience,” “I am compassionate,” etc) 

2. “This too shall pass” – (It’s not forever)

3. “All is well” – (To remember that things are going to be ok) 


3. Asking for Help –

When walking into work we never know how our day is going to be, at the start of a shift our workload may be manageable but then all of a sudden the workload changes and we’re overwhelmed, things then get crazy busy. Examples of when the workload can quickly change is when a few of your surgical patients are returned back to the ward at a very close time together or you have to prioritise all your effort and care to one patient as they are starting to deteriorate.

When the workload increases I think many of us are guilty of not reaching out and asking for help, in any day things change quickly and the other nurses in your team may not be aware of how busy you are. Asking for help might be for something simple such as asking another nurse to answer a call bell for you, it’s not over-stepping but it is sharing some of the workload and taking some pressure off yourself.

When helping a work colleague it actually feels great as you can see the impact you are having on them, especially when the team comes together there is a feeling of collective reciprocity. On the other side when a work colleague helps me, I have a feeling of gratitude and appreciation for taking some stress off me, I can then keep moving forward.



At work practical and quick tips have a power to reduce the pressures of a challenging work day by shifting focus and deal with whatever is thrown our way, sometimes it amazes me as nurses even when the workload is overwhelming, nurses persevere.

These tips are only suggestions and may not be useful for everyone and its important to find what works for you. Although to put any strategies into action it is important to recognise when they can be used, then taking the steps to build them into a habit before they become second nature – always be gentle to yourself.

(Photo by Canva)



“It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed”

– Napolean Hill

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