Nurses: Give Yourself Permission to Truly Clock Out After Your Shift

Optimal well-being requires caregivers to leave work at work

Nursing wellness

For many nurses and other caregivers, the end of a shift does not always mean the end of the mental or emotional aspects of the shift. It can be difficult to turn off “work mode” and shut down stress when the day is done, but it’s worth the effort to hone that skill.

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“Giving yourself permission to shift mentally from work to home is so important,” says Rose Hosler, BSN, HNB-BC, HWNC-BC, Healing Service Coordinator at Cleveland Clinic. “Make a conscious effort to tell yourself it is OK to leave it behind. Tell yourself you do not need to take your work home with you.”

Hosler’s advice corresponds to a helpful tool called the After Work Checklist, developed by the Well-Being Initiative, a partnership of the American Nurses Foundation and other leading nurse organizations to offer resources that focus on caring for nurses.

Checklist for well-being

The Well-Being Initiative’s After Work Checklist outlines steps to decompress after work.

Review. Acknowledge a challenge you faced, take a deep breath and let it go.

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Hosler says to think of this step as “releasing.” She suggests that as you leave work and head for home, think about how your day has been, acknowledge what happened in it and then let it go. A mantra such as “I am leaving work at work” can help you release the events of the day and transition your mindset.

Reflect. However small, consider and appreciate three positives in your day.

This step is about gratitude, Hosler says. Recite an affirmation, such as “I did the best I could with what I had today.” Take time to honor and appreciate your colleagues and the patients you cared for and that you were able to show up and do your work today.

Regroup. Offer support to your colleagues and ask for help when you need it.

Being willing to speak up and ask for help when you need it is big, Hosler says. She suggests thinking about ways you can support colleagues and how to ask them for help when you need it. Also, take time to learn about resources available through your workplace, such as employee assistance and wellness programs. They are there to support you.

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Re-energize. Turn your attention to home. Focus on relaxing and resting.

In this step, Hosler says, it’s important to first be sure you have transitioned to a present mindset in which you are no longer at work. Process your day, even if you must talk to yourself in the car during your commute. When you get home, stop and take a few breaths after you walk in the door to allow peace and calm to settle within. Say something such as “I am home and it feels good,” or “This is where my focus is.” Then be present in your own space and do your best to enjoy it. Your mind and body will re-energize if you allow yourself to be fully aware and present.