Why It’s Important for Nurses to Have Some Alone Time

Alone time! HA! What IS that?” Or… “Don’t you know that there’s no time for that!?! I’m a nurse!

jan-np-blog-postRight on. I get it.

  • Nurses travel in specialty, attending conferences in groups. We learn in classes full of other nurses. We work with peers, colleagues, supervisors, and other professionals. When are we ever “alone”?
  • Then- we have our shift. We are taking care of patients all day. Sometimes we find it hard to take a break, just to eat a snack. We have the pager, phone, alarm, bell, whistle, or computer. The list goes on and on as to why we cannot find that quiet space.
  • After work- we come home to take care of more people. Our families are waiting and these can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Adult parents to care for. Children to feed. Fur babies to play with. Do we ever get some peace and quiet?

However it is SUPER important for a nurse to carve out some downtime. Not just for ourselves, but for our patients too.

Here are five reasons why it is important for a nurses to have alone time:

  1. It re-charges our batteries. Energizer bunny- you know him? He beats his drum, stepping one foot in front of another. Yet- what happens when his battery dies? That’s right- he stops. If you are go, go, go in noise all day- you do not have time to settle. You need the quiet to re-charge. Reflect upon your day. What went well? Where could you grow? What did you learn? In order to continue to thrive in nursing you need quiet moments to think things through.
  2. It offers fresh perspectives. Piggy-backing off of what was said in reason #1- taking a moment to oneself will help you look at things differently. Maybe you are starting to resent a certain colleague who consistently shows up late to work. You’ve been noticing this behavior for weeks and nothing seems to be getting done by management to fix it. Well- the mental chatter starts to circle and all of a sudden you find yourself severely disliking this person. If you take some time, in quiet, all to yourself- you may open up to a new perspective on the situation. You may think of a way to solve the problem. Or find that clarity and confidence to speak up about this behavior. You need alone time to shift your perspectives.
  3. It impacts patient care. Being with patients all day and family all night can wear you out. Then, you go back into work the next day, to find yourself snippy with your patients. This is NOT how you want to be as a nurse and you beat yourself up for acting this way. Little did you know there is something you can do so that you give the best patient care. It’s called taking some time for yourself. The more downtime you allow yourself to enjoy, the safer and more quality care you will deliver.
  4. It teaches others that it is OK to do. New nurses look up to experienced nurses at work. We don’t want to make a mistake or look foolish. We want to be viewed as part of the team and fit in with the crowd. As a more experienced nurse, if you take some alone time to yourself, you are showing other nurses that this is OK- even necessary- to do.
  5. It lets us have a life, outside of the job. I have had nurses come up to me, after I finish giving a presentation, so happy that they heard me speak. One of the reasons why is they tell me, “I have lost myself in nursing.” When we identify ourselves as “nurse” so often and forget to take alone time for ourselves- we realize that we do not know what else we enjoy in life. Taking some quiet time just for yourself to go do something outside of your nursing career will help you in the future. You won’t forget who you are and what you love to do. This way, when you head into retirement, you still have hobbies, activities, and interests.

What did we miss? Let’s hear another way you make that downtime happen. Then, tell us why it is important for you to do. Thanks for reading and feel free to share with a colleague!

Elizabeth Scala

Keynote speaker and bestselling author, Elizabeth Scala MSN/MBA, RN, partners with hospitals, nursing schools, and nurse associations to transform the field of nursing from the inside out. As the host of the Nurse’s Week ‘Art of Nursing’ program, Elizabeth guides nurses and nursing students to a change in perspective, helping them make the inner shift needed to better maneuver the sometimes challenging realities of being a caregiver.Elizabeth received her dual master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. She is also a certified coach and Reiki Master Teacher. Elizabeth lives in Maryland with her supportive husband and a playful pit bull.