How to pick yourself up after bad day

Specialties Med-Surg


So I am a newer nurse.....and started in med/surg. I'm still in med/surg and honestly I was really thinking that it was for me. I enjoy the variety, I enjoy the people and being busy. However....last week I had some really rough days.....and a 6 patient load on day shift pretty consistently, sometimes with no tech, it made me think maybe I need to look at my skills and look at my career goals long term. I worked over the weekend and it went really well .... but then yesterday happened. I had quite possibly the worst work day I've ever experienced. Now I know I can't evaluate my career on one was pretty awful. I didn't get a break, I didn't eat all day, I didn't get water until about 3pm, I didn't get done charting until after 9pm. Today I was so sick from running on adrenaline only yesterday....I was literally physically ill until about 3pm. Yesterday was just, well it made me think I might be wrong or just plain nuts for wanting to put myself in that type of situation. How do you guys leave a bad day behind and move forward...or when do you say too many bad days maybe it isn't for me?

Specializes in LTC, Orthopedics.

The way I handle a rough day is to realize that there is only so much that I can do. When I clock out from work, my problems stay at work and I do not bring that home with me. Yes, you will have more rough days to come, but with time and experience you'll learn how to better problem solve certain situations. Only you know how much stress you can handle, and if the job starts to become too stressful than look elsewhere. In the meantime try finding a hobby that you like to help you relax.

Specializes in Hospice.

Looking back, I think I had more "bad days" when I was newer nurse. Until I figured out a good routine, how to prioritize, and time management.

Having said that though... every once in a while I still get run over by a tough shift now and again. Unfortunately, I don't know a single nurse working in a clinical position that doesn't encounter that now and again. It's a part of the nursing world.

First of all, see how the next shift goes. Then look back a week or so later. It that was just a "bad" shift, then you can be thankful that it was just that:) If you start to see a "pattern" of frequent bad shifts then may ask for assistance from a trusted co-worker or manager for suggestions. I also at one point realized I was "expecting" shift to be bad before I got to work... and you know what - those shifts often lived up to my negative expectations. I had to change my thinking, and suddenly I had less "bad" shifts.

Where I work now, it's a given Fridays will be a hot mess. We just roll with it and joke about it being Friday. Knowing this ahead of time makes it much easier to deal with. We help each other out as much as we can and know we will likely be sitting in a empty conference room having a "charting party" (not really a party, just nurses frantically charting so we can go home) after we give report. Often we will order a pizza to be delivered or someone will bring something that can be eaten quickly when people have a minute during the shift.

I make sure I start every shift with a full water bottle and there are always a few quick snacks in my work pouch - it's a zip top bag where I keep extra pens, highlighters, sharpie, ibuprofen, change for the vending machine, a flashlight, a mirror for assessing heels and my headlamp for catheter insertions:) Snacks that are non-perishable and have good energy value (individual packs of nuts, protein bar etc). Sometimes, taking 3 minutes for self care can end up saving me a time later if I have a minute to refuel and figure out a game plan (instead of just putting out little fires).

I have a 50 minute commute, I take that time to process a little and then listen to great music and enjoy the drive home. It took me a long time, but I've learned to (almost always) leave the day behind by the time I get home. I've got some co-workers who stop by the gym. Or Starbucks. Talk to your co-workers for suggestions on how they decompress after a crazy shift.

Good self care is really important. Drink plenty of water, get plenty of sleep, eat something healthy and spend some time doing something you enjoy. Remember that you did your best, and sometimes that really kicks your ass. Sometimes the best you can do in a day is just keep your patients safe. And that's OK.

Specializes in Mother-Baby Pediatrics.

Ok but its hard to realize there is only so much you can do, when you are legally obligated to chart and its important to chart and account for everything that happened with the patient.

How do you prioritize charting and patient care on busy days?

Hospital nursing wasn't for me. I realized that fairly quickly, some 27 years ago. Fortunately I found my way out. I just kept plugging away until another job opened up and it only took a few months.

Thanks for all the great responses! And the headlight idea!

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