As rates of COVID-19 infections continue to decrease and rates of vaccinations continue to increase, nurses will hopefully have a summer that gives them time to recharge and rest.

If you’re able to take some time to rest and recharge over the next couple of months, you’ll want to think of the best ways to take advantage of time that will help you. You’re likely still reeling from a year of work levels and stress that you probably hadn’t experienced before. Warmer weather and longer days lend themselves naturally to inviting less rushing, and more time to do what is good for you.

Here are a few ideas to get you thinking about how to feed your soul and start to recover from 2020.

Start with Gratitude

Today is Memorial Day and honoring those who have given their lives for our country inspires a deep well of gratitude. If you or a loved one has served the nation through military service, you deserve enormous thanks for all your sacrifice. And for anyone who has lost a loved one, the nation will never forget their bravery and dedication to defending the freedom we all enjoy.

Rest, Rest, Rest

Sleep is important for every part of your body, but when you’re under immense stress, it’s often hard to come by. If you have trouble sleeping, worrying about your sleep difficulties can make it worse. This summer, focus on getting rest. Read a book or listen to your backlog of podcasts in the park or in the cool air conditioning of a library. Binge watch Netflix, meditate, and don’t underestimate the power of a well-timed nap (just keep it short so it doesn’t interfere with your regular sleep).

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 Change Your Scenery

Several days each week, try to spend some time in nature for restorative mental-health benefits. Take a trip to the ocean or a lake, visit a nearby park or forest, or hike a mountain on a day off. A day trip is great, but even spending a 15-minute break outside can help. Or you can focus on your living space and give it a reboot. A coat of paint in a soothing color, pillows you can sink into, new plants or fresh flowers–all of these small changes can give you a lasting sense of renewal.

Make Plans

When your schedule is so busy that you can’t think straight, trying to plan for one more thing might seem counterintuitive. But making plans to do something you enjoy, like a vacation, a day ¬†trip, or a get together with family and friends can give you a real boost. And studies show that taking a vacation can make you a more resilient and better employee. Time to disengage and disconnect from the stresses of work is like pushing a reset button to recharge your energy.

Help Others

As a nurse, you help other people all day long, but taking a different approach to service makes you feel more connected to your community. Offer help that isn’t related to healthcare–participate in a clean-up day in your neighborhood, plant flowers with a community group, help out in a shelter, cook food for a family in need, walk your neighbor’s dog after their surgery, offer to help distribute groceries at a food pantry, or commit a few hours to a cause you are passionate about. If you have family, get them involved.

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The pandemic isn’t over and flare ups are likely to happen again. If you’re able to hit pause this summer, even for an afternoon, the benefits can help recharge your mental and physical health–and you’ll enjoy yourself in the process.

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil
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