Tips to Stay Fresh During 12-hour Nursing Shifts

Tired? It doesn’t have to show. Here’s how day and night shift nurses can feel and look their best.

Working a 12-hour shift is a part of most nurses’ weekly routines, and we know that the long hours can take a toll. But don’t let it dim your glow. These helpful tips can help you maintain a wide-awake and fresh appearance, regardless of underlying weariness. 

First and foremost: Hydrate

Your skin is about 64 percent water, and depriving it of liquids results in a sallow and dry look. Be sure to take regular water breaks throughout your shift, even if you’re not thirsty. If you don’t hydrate frequently, your blood will actually pull water away from your skin cells, giving your flesh a dull pallor and your eyes a dark, sunken look. On the positive side, having sufficient water in your body can even fill out your face a bit, smoothing out pores and wrinkles. Doctors recommend drinking at least six 8-ounce glasses of water a day to look and feel your best, so make sure you get more than half of that during your 12-hour shift.

The chill factor

Wake up your face with a splash of cold water or even a cold washcloth swipe around your eyes. The coolness makes your vessels constrict, thus reducing inflammation. Another tip is to place refrigerated spoons, cold compresses, cucumber slices, or used, chilled black tea bags over your closed eyes for about five minutes; this can eliminate or at least lessen dark circles and bagginess. Even moisturizers, which soak into your skin’s crevices and make you look more alert, are more effective at de-puffing your face if it’s chilled.

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Healthy snacks

During a quick snack break, skip the vending machine candy bar and overly-salted potato chips. The candy’s sugar will lead to a sugar crash, making you even sleepier, and excessive salt will force your skin to retain water which gives you a puffy, tired appearance. Opt instead for a protein-based meal, such as grilled chicken, shrimp or turkey in a salad or with greens.  Opt to snack on cheese sticks with low-sodium nuts. 

Get your blood flowing

You can improve the blood circulation throughout your body with some quick stretches that loosen your muscles and energize your appearance. One specific idea: stretch your head backwards and hold it there for a few moments. This move flushes your facial appearance and can help give you a healthy, awakened glow. If possible, take a little stroll outdoors, because the natural scenery and fresh air will tingle your skin (and your mood), freshening your whole demeanor.

Take a mental break

Whether you refresh yourself by listening to some lively music, watching a video clip, having a lighthearted chat with a fellow nurse, or just reading up on those fun texts, those little breaks can give you the boost you need to keep on going with your shift. Laughter, especially, increases your blood pressure, sending oxygen to your tissues, and even exercises your facial muscles. It’s definitely one of the best medicines for improving mood! 

Ladies: Freshen your makeup

First, before piling on more foundation, blot your face with a towel to remove excess oil. Only apply more foundation if there are blatant spots that need covered, so you avoid getting that caked-on look. Refresh any other makeup and then apply a translucent powder that has brighteners in it. Make things even easier by carrying travel size or spare sets of your makeup essentials in your purse or storing them in your locker.

Men: Clean up that shave

It doesn’t matter whether you are a day or night shift nurse, guys: that 5 o’clock shadow can happen to the best of you. If you start feeling the stubble a few hours into your shift, it only takes a couple of minutes to run an electric shaver over your face and come out looking and feeling great. A handheld razor and shave cream also work, but may be more of an ordeal at work. Use aftershave sparingly, since heavy fragrances can make some patients feel even sicker.

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