published on
April 5, 2022

8 ways for nurses and carers to relax after a long shift

Amber Ainsworth
posted on

We know working as a nurse or carer can be extremely tiring and stressful. The long hours, high pressure, and emotional strain can take its toll on anyone. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed and in need of rest and relaxation when you get home from a shift.

According to our recent survey on the impact of Covid-19 on nurses and carers, 58% of you report you don’t receive vital support for your wellbeing and mental health at work.

As the pressure of the coronavirus pandemic continues, it’s important for nurses and carers to relax and unwind. We know this may not always be a priority if you have a family of your own to support, but we encourage you to make time for at least one of the activities we’ve listed below. 

Here are some of our tips on how to care for yourself between shifts and caring for others. 

Take a moment to breathe

Calming breath techniques can relieve stress, and can be done anywhere and at any time. It’ll only take a few minutes out of your day. You can follow the steps below and find out more here

  1. Get comfortable. You can lie on your back in bed or on the floor with a pillow under your head and knees. Or you can sit in a chair with your shoulders, head, and neck supported against the back of the chair.
  2. Breathe in through your nose. Let your belly fill with air.
  3. Breathe out through your nose.
  4. Place one on your belly. Place the other hand on your chest.
  5. As you breathe in, feel your belly rise. As you breathe out, feel your belly lower. The hand on your belly should move more than the one that's on your chest.
  6. Take three more full, deep breaths. Breathe fully into your belly as it rises and falls with your breath.

Try gentle exercise

Although your daily work duties may keep you active, it is important to get fresh air regularly and take breaks outside of the workplace or your home.

It’s a good idea to go outside for walks, runs or other exercise where safe and if possible. You can also complete at-home workouts to make sure you are staying active. Why not try Yoga with Adriene on Youtube or the NHS Pilates for beginners videos?

Take a warm bath or shower

The temperature of the water increases your body temperature, relaxing your muscles. 

Incorporate this into your post-shift routine and imagine the water washing away any stress, negativity, and frustrations from the day. 

Start watching a new series

Working a long shift can take its toll on your energy levels. Sometimes you just need to slow down and enjoy a bit of escapism at the end of the working day.

Leave the stresses of your day behind and indulge in a new series or TV show. Why not check out one of the 10 most relaxing TV shows available right now on Netflix.

Or if you’d rather not be looking at a screen, try starting a new book or listening to a podcast. These podcasts chosen by Healthy Magazine are great for de-stressing.

Listen to music

Music can have an effect on both the body and your emotions. A slower tempo can quiet your mind, relax your muscles and sooth you from the stresses of your day. Whereas upbeat music can help you to feel more positive and energised. 

Music streaming services like Spotify and Youtube now have ready-made playlists available in categories such as Chill, At home, Sleep and Wellness. 

Music has been proven to be effective for relaxation and stress management. Whether you’re in the mood for lying down and listening to ambient nature sounds, or dancing around your house to electronica, both are going to have a positive effect on you.

Time to talk

One of the best ways to unwind after a shift is to talk it out. You could do this over dinner, or on the phone to friends or family. 

Talking to someone will ensure that you are not alone in your feelings. It may also give you the chance to sit and listen to someone else’s thoughts and feelings about their day. 

Put pen to paper

Writing down your thoughts and feelings about your day is a great way to release them from your mind. Use this time writing to remind yourself of what has happened throughout your day but also to plan for what the next day may bring. 

Try using some of the starting points below.

  • Write down how you feel so you don’t bottle things up (even if you just throw away the paper afterwards) 
  • Express gratitude, write about things you’re grateful for; this is a good way to start a day or end the day
  • Jot down questions, concerns, or thoughts you have about things; you can return to them later when you’re ready or have more information
  • Make a list of things you need to get done as opposed to just holding them all in your head

Find time for food

It can be tough to make sure you’re eating the right foods and in the right amount when you’re stressed or tired. But it is crucial for restoring energy levels.

Cooking is also known to be therapeutic, so why not try one of these quick and healthy recipes from BBC Good Food. If you live with someone you can share cooking with, try planning a schedule so they can cook for you on shift days. 

Plan ahead for those days when you’re lacking in energy by signing up to a meal box subscription, or batch cooking meals on your days off. 

Make sure you are finding time to drink lots of water, eat whole foods and try to sleep as much as you can.

Here to help

Here at Florence, your dedicated account manager is always on hand to support you and help you with any concerns you may have - we’re only a call away. Get in touch by calling your account manager on 020 3911 2555, or emailing

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