How to De-Stress and Unwind After a Long Nursing Shift

Regardless of the profession, a lot of people take their work home without realizing it. And with a demanding profession like nursing, the long work hours can start to take a toll on one’s mental and physical health.

Nurses often work up to 12 hours during an average shift, which a lot of times, ends up in overtime as well. These long shifts are increasingly turning into a cause of nurse burnout around the world. To deal with the effects of accumulated stress on nurses, you must take care of yourself when you are done taking care of others for the day.

If you are someone who is wondering how to recover from nurse burnout, here are 4 ways to relieve stress and unwind!

1. Exercise

Exercise is an incredibly effective way to relieve stress along with calories. Shift work nursing often leads to muscular pain due to working 12 hours straight. Working out can help you process the emotions and events that you experienced throughout the day. Thus, not only will it loosen up muscle knots but it also helps you untangle your thoughts at the end of the day.

2. Get a Massage

Another great way to deal with the effects of stress on nurses is to relieve physical tension with a relaxing massage. Due to the work pressure and high demands of a shift work nursing job, you might feel a lot of tightness in your back and shoulders during and after work. So, once you are free, take some time to pamper yourself. Apply a face mask, get a relaxing massage, or simply soak in a bubble bath to de-stress and enjoy.

3. Spend Some Time With Animals

Spending some time with animals can also be incredibly rewarding and decompressing. Whether you decide to volunteer at the animal shelter, cuddle up with your pup at home, or play with cats at the cat cafe, a little time with furry friends can be pure joy. Animals, especially pets, boost your feelings of happiness and affection, which in turn lowers your stress a great deal.

4. Have a Conversation

By far the best way to deal with stress after a long day is to sit down and talk about it. The idea is to talk about the events that you went through during the day to help you process emotions and unwind. Choose a friend, partner, or any family member that you know is a good listener. Talk about the things that have affected you and the moments that seem to be clinging to your mind. The best thing about this strategy is that once you are done, you wouldn’t think about it anymore and your mind will feel much lighter.


Research shows that long shift hours can be one of the main causes of nurse burnout and patient dissatisfaction. It is important to remember that the best way to relax varies from person to person and there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to de-stressing.

So, choose an activity that you find fulfilling and one that sparks joy in you. For all you know, it can also turn into a permanent hobby that you can turn to from time to time for some healthy decompressing.

APN Healthcare Can Help You

If you are a travel nurse looking for a new assignment, APN Healthcare can help place you in a facility. We help nurses and other healthcare professionals find temporary or permanent placements in a wide range of healthcare organizations. Contact us today at or 609-924-3400. Visit our website and look through our open positions.

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