Have you ever had one of those shifts that you take home with you?

You know the one… Maybe a patient died despite you giving your everything yet you still feel like you could have done more. Maybe you stood up for what was right and got belittled by the doctor anyway. It’s one of those shifts that just doesn’t go away when you clock out and leave. How do you disconnect from those shifts?

What do you do to not let shifts like that drag you under? How do you keep it together and stay sane?

Being in the department I am in now, I haven’t had one of those shifts in a while. I can still remember having those shifts while I worked in the ICU though. In fact, I still can’t listen to “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten. I can still see the mother of the patient holding the phone to her 16 year old daughter’s ear. I can hear the song playing from the room. I can remember how heavy my heart felt knowing how hard her mother wanted her to fight. I remember how much it hurt to know her child’s injury was so severe that she would not survive.

Things like that stick with you.

Over the years there have been many shifts that I have taken home. There were shifts that almost broke me. It wasn’t until years into my nursing career that I learned how to disconnect… And not feel guilty about it. That was the other thing, I felt guilty about turning “it” off. I felt like when I tried to leave work at work I was not being a “caring” nurse. I felt like I was being cold and heartless. I had to learn that in order to continue to be a caring nurse, I had to mentally and emotionally take care of myself first. I couldn’t give from an empty vessel. I had to really practice some self care.

So now, I read. I write. I go jogging. I cook. And for the love of all things good, I use my PTO! I’m taking time off dammit! I may not go on vacation but I am a full believer in the “staycation”.

What do you do to keep yourself sane?

15 thoughts on “Disconnect

  1. Fred, good that you take time of to recoup! It’s hard not to take work home with you, and as you learned, overtime, it depleted you. I remember there were rough days as a nurse practitioner, and how I disengaged when I got home. Exercise, mostly running, was my saving grace. Sounds as if you have good distractions to help you. Have a peaceful weekend! 📚 Christine


  2. Congratulations on knowing how to take care of yourself❣️Some days will always be with you – not in a burdensome way but because you have heart and sensitivity, and you work in a field that constantly puts you in contact with life’s fragility and resilience.

    I am not a nurse but I’m with you on reading and writing💗. I also like to take long walks along Lake Michigan, practice yoga and meditation, share great hugs with affectionate people, and take advantage of opportunities to laugh and act silly!


  3. I have had many of those days! I listen to music it helps-meditation. I may go walk if I have the energy but now I write..I have written couple books now…and hope to finish my next two projects I have started. I love your blog! I can relate and yes I totally get when you say, “Barely sane nurse.” All those things mention to help nurses keep sane really do work! Thanks


  4. themama1836

    I remember those days all too well. Even now, I still can vividly remember some of the formidable cases that have stayed with me all these years. My coping skills included playing with my kids, the dog, and my guitar, and giving thanks for the good things that I have in my life.


  5. Nicole

    I helped take a body into the morgue when I was a volunteer at an SICU. I still remember the family member’s face when they flat lined. I happened to be in the room when she passed. The whole experience almost made me think I did not want to be a nurse (or that I could not handle it).

    I actually changed my nursing major to psychology after that experience. I did not have good coping mechanisms other than binge drinking at the time.

    Since then I learned how to lift. I regularly lift heavy and run at least 3x a week. I also try to do new activities to keep myself engaged in the moment. (Like blogging/vlogging!) It has helped me SO MUCH. I love training so much that I became a personal trainer. Being a trainer helped me come to terms with my love for nursing.

    I know bringing work home will happen, and thankfully there are ways to set ourselves up for success. (Just like you’re doing!)

    Life is difficult. People who commit themselves to save lives have an added stress to manage. This is the stuff that not everyone wants to talk about, but is sometimes needed. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences Fred!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s