How to Survive Working Long Shifts

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 0 Comments A + a -

I think it is safe to say that few people like working long hours days in a row. Nevertheless, here is how to work through safely three to five days of long hours at work while keeping safety and sanity.


 After working five twelve hour shifts five days in a row as I completed tonight (and this is not my first), I feel that I have the authority to write about the subject. Some days pass by in the blink of an eye; some days drag on forever. The good news is that some days are better than others are, and there are ways that will help alleviate the stress along the way. Also, do not underestimate the power of dread. Long shifts can be intimidating enough and if you are new to this or are just working part-time, it can be much harder. However, it is not near as bad as you think it is after several times.


I have definitely worked my fair share, including many rough shifts. The worst shift I have ever endured involved a 12-hour shift at night, followed by four 12-hour shift that were equally busy. I survived. My patients did well at the best possible circumstances, and I was able to get help and help around me beyond my assignment.

How To Survive Working Long Shifts


  1. Eat well. It is not the time to starve yourself. Prepare for these days and buy healthy foods that are easy to pack: salads, fresh fruits, protein-rich foods, and decent foods that are not too greasy or sweet. I like drinking almond chocolate milk, coffee, or tea. I snack on bananas and apples. I also bring canned soup with me, the heart-healthy ones. Carrots and celery sticks dipped in hummus are good too. Hard-boiled eggs are cheap but supply good amounts of protein. Nuts, especially cashew and almonds are my favorite in between snack. 
  2. Sleep well. Minimize your activity before and after work. This is not the time to do a 2-hour workout program in a gym, for example. Walking the dogs and stretching are enough to energize me but not tire me out. You can do something similar. I think they help prepare me for sleep as well. This is also not the time to reach for that booze (as some people resort to alcohol for sleep). 
  3. Wear comfortable shoes with good support, especially ankle support. I like the clog type like Dansko. I have been wearing clogs for work for years and they saved me from excruciating pain I suffered the first year I worked as a nurse. Crocks are not your friend. Leave them in your garden. 
  4. Love your co-workers and bosses. Okay maybe love is a strong word but like them, work with them, tolerate them.  It will make your job easier. Make and contribute to a great team.
In a nutshell… These tips work for me. I hope they work for you. Twelve-hour shifts are l-o-n-g. Working more than two days in a row can be hard. The important thing to remember is that, thankfully, the shift/shifts do eventually end and you get your check later.

Oh yeah. Do not forget to celebrate later at the end of your shifts-in-a-row. Celebrate your hard work and spend a little in a small scale. Eat, play, and win, maybe. Hint, it cannot be at the gambling place.

 I went to Dave and Buster’s with Paul. Oh, and look at our dessert.

Nurse after shift at Dave and Busters Nurse Blog

Dave and Busters Parent

fondue dessert food
Fondue dessert because I cannot always be good.



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