How to deal with social isolation!

  1. Hi Nurses!

    I have been a lurker here fore years. I don't post very often, but read the forums all the time. Hoping you could offer me some tips!

    I have been an RN for a year now. Things are going well at work, but the one challenge I seem to have is finding time to spend with my friends. I work two days, two nights, with 4 off. All my shifts are 12 hours. My Mon-Fri friends are almost always working when I have time off, and my other nursing friends from school are on opposite rotations, so they are working when I am off. I don't have any nursing friends on the unit my age, most are older with kids and families of their own. My own family lives across the country, so I can't see them either.

    It's starting to get me down. I keep busy by myself on my days off, but I miss seeing my friends. I have done shift trades a few times to get a day off with friends...but this is not always possible as there is not necessarily someone willing to do a swap. I usually don't go out after day shift as I don't get home until 8 pm and I am just too tired.

    How are other new nurses coping? How do you balance your work and social life?

  2. Visit Valhalla_Pure profile page

    About Valhalla_Pure

    Joined: Jul '08; Posts: 45; Likes: 24
    RN - Acute Medicine
    Specialty: 1 year(s) of experience


  3. by   Kristen75
    I feel that way too. My difference is that I commute for almost 5 hours a day and I don't have any time when I get home and on the weekends, I am exhausted. I wish I knew what to tell you, but I am in the same boat.
  4. by   mazy
    I know exactly what you mean. I have two days off right now and am stacked up with obligations, none of which I want to do, all of which I have to do. I had one thing come up that I really wanted to do but I can't because of al these other necessary commitments and responsibilities.

    Somehow in all of that I have to find time to clean my apartment -- which I haven't been able to do because of all the other stuff that keeps coming up -- and do my laundry. Then back to work for my long week, then back to more obligations. I do have friends but I don't even have the energy to talk to them because I'm so tired and fed up all the time.

    I am right now having a conniption fit in my head about this, I'm just so sick of it. Glad to know I'm not the only one.
  5. by   Valhalla_Pure
    At least KNOWING there are others in the same boat as me is comforting. I just get a little sad sometimes when I see my other nursing friends planning events I can't go to

    Things I try to do to keep busy:

    Clean my apartment (a never ending task)
    Cook and bake (to prep for days on shift, and just because I like to!)
    Read and drink tea
    Phone my family (even if I can't see them)
    Do yoga (great for my back, which is always sore from work)

    I am glad I have my husband, but you need to see your friends too. I think I only see him regularly because we live together!
  6. by   xtxrn
    You have to work 2 12-hour day shifts and 2 12-hour night shifts in the same week? If I'm reading that right, you're doing well just to walk straight.

    You'd be better off on straight can shuffle socializing with nights off just like normal (I always look at days and nights as basically the same- 3-11, which 12-hr shifts wouldn't include, were the worst for me- couldn't get to sleep right away, then slept until it was time to go to work again). I loved 7p-7a. The head cheeses were at the house, no elective surgeries, and fewer tests or procedures, but still got the acute care gig.

    Is there any way to get a straight night shift ? (differential doesn't hurt either ).

    Jumping around like that is enough to send you drooling in the corner before long You're doing well still knowing your name
  7. by   Valhalla_Pure
    Thanks for the reply xtxrn!

    Yes, I alternate two days, followed by two nights, then 4 days off before I do it all again. After my second night shift I usually wake up around noon, then spend most of the day being tired, and sleep well that night in order to get back on a regular schedule for my days off. I work 14 shifts a month, provided I don't pick up overtime or extra (which I almost never do as I am too exhausted).

    I work in BC, Canada, and most shift schedules are like mine for full-time nurses. I actually LOVE the night shift for all the reasons you listed. I am currently trying to trade some of my days for nights, but no straight night shift lines exist here (at least in acute care, to my knowledge). The two shifts are days (7a-7p) or nights (7p-7a).

    Right now I am on a day off, and gearing up to head back to work again for another set...I feel like a sloth. Glad to know others are struggling too. I'll figure something out.
  8. by   xtxrn
    Wow. That's a great way for an employer to drive their staff into the ground. I feel for you- that is a tough schedule. When I was younger, I'd work 4 doubles a week- 7-3 & 3-11, then 3-11 & 11-7, take a day off and repeat... I was fried in 6 months (and got double pneumonia for my trouble

    Good luck !!
  9. by   I♥Dexter
    Well Valhalla, I don't have your exact schedule, but I am in the "feeling isolated" boat with you!! I'm working 12hr dayshift, and I commute over an hour each way so I too am always exhausted and seem to work opposite most of my friends. And, I haven't really made any friends at work yet so that too is extra isolating. It helps to know I'm not the only one, and hopefully it gets better soon.
  10. by   rn/writer
    Your schedule is a tough one, but if you have four days off in a row, there are lots of things you can do.

    First off, if the old friends are only available on an occasional basis, make some new ones to fill in the gaps. You're not dumping anyone, but neither are you sitting around moping over the people you can't see.

    Take a class, join a club, find a church, volunteer. Do something--anything constructive--to get you out of your four walls and into new areas of interest.

    Look around your apartment. What could use some improvement? Maybe take a class in carpentry, upholstery or photography to liven things up a little.

    Take a cooking class and see if you hit it off with any of the other people you meet there. Worst case, you expand your dinner menu and get to eat some delicious dishes.

    Are you bilingual? If not, jump in. If you are, how does trilingual sound?

    Join a yoga class where you can mingle with others who share one of your current interests.

    Volunteer your time at the library, a local school, a nursing home, a food co-op.

    This is just the tip of the iceberg. Go, looking to have a nice time, and if you get some friends out of the deal, so much the better.

    Don't be too limited in who you would consider for a friend. Someone ten years older? Why not. They might have an interesting take on life that you would never have considered. A person from a completely different culture? It's good to stretch and learn new things. A musician or a teacher or a gardener? Cool. You don't want to hang out with only nurses, do you?

    In short, there is a whole big world out there that you get to explore a couple of days a week. Don't worry that you won't know anyone when you begin. If you reach out, that will change.

    One word of caution. Listen to your gut. If you hit it off with someone, meet at first in neutral places like a classroom or a restaurant to see if your comfort level is consistent. If someone gives off an ookey vibe, keep your guard up and don't put yourself in a vulnerable situation. Don't know if you have a land line, but if you do, give out only your cell number.

    Other than those common sense precautions, throw yourself out there and see what you can find. Make it a point to spend at least four hours a week going on expeditions and doing new things.

    I think you will find what you're looking for.
    Last edit by rn/writer on Sep 15, '11