Key Locums are a specialist medical recruitment agency, providing locum and permanent staff to clients nationwide.With a business model built on providing high quality, compliant, and skilled staff, we aim to give our candidates and clients a personable, professional, and focused.

Ways to Recharge After a Long Shift

Posted on 10.01.2019

Shift work can be draining. As a locum, you might find yourself facing long hours, sometimes at night, in high-stress situations. It's easy to get burned out and, as well as being bad for your mental health, it can also lead to mistakes. When an office worker makes an error, it’s probably not going to be that serious. When a doctor makes an error, it’s could have much more weighty consequences. 


We have put together a few ways to relax and unwind after your shift to help you feel better rested and more equipped to take on the day (or night). 



This may seem like a bit of a no-brainer but its often the first thing that people sacrifice when they’re busy or under pressure. The average person needs between seven and nine hours to function at the highest level. Missing even one hour of sleep, even though you may not consciously notice it during the day, actually compromises your cardiovascular health, energy balance, and ability to fight infections. It also reduces response rates - not ideal if you’re working in a situation that requires split-second decision-making like A&E.  


Sleep deprivation may sound like an extreme term to describe missing a few hours’ sleep but it can have a profound effect, so why not try an app like Sleep Cycle to help you get some proper rest? It uses your microphone to track your sleep patterns and wakes you in the lightest phase of sleep so you're not groggy.  



You don’t want to spend your whole day off in bed sleeping but you still feel too tired to do anything. Meditation is a way to relax and refocus without staying hidden under the duvets for hours. It has been shown to reduce stress, control anxiety and lengthen your concentration span. It is also thought to improve sleep, so if you find getting your seven to nine hours a challenge, meditation may be the answer. 


For many of us, silencing the voices in our heads can be tricky. Meditation can feel silly or self-defeating the first time you try it but never fear, there is help to be had. Apps like Headspace offer guided meditation that fits around your life. You can focus on an area that is worrying you, like anxiety or sleep, and it also offers ‘SOS exercises’ if you ever start to feel overwhelmed.  



When you’re tired, often the last thing you want to do is run around - especially if you’re not particularly sporty. Exercise increases blood flow and that creates endorphins, which in turn gives us energy. It may seem counterintuitive, but when you feel your most drained is when you should probably be lacing up your trainers and heading outside.  


If you really aren’t a ‘leggings and sweat-band’ kind of person, a simple walk can do the trick. Walking for as little as 30 minutes every day can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke and also improves self-perception and self-esteem, mood and sleep quality, as well as reducing stress, anxiety and fatigue. Studies have shown that active people are 30% less likely to suffer from depression, so even if it’s just a little walk around the park, make sure you get out at least once a day. 



Cooking has several benefits that can help you to reboot mentally after an exhausting shift. First and foremost, you get to eat food at the end of it. However, there are psychological benefits to cooking that you may not be aware of.  


There are some people who will suggest practising mindfulness in the kitchen; considering the texture, smell and look of the ingredients before adding them into the mix. This may be a little much for some of us, but the ritual of preparing a meal, following steps and having made something yourself gives a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that ordering in from Deliveroo distinctly lacks. The food you cook is far less likely to have hidden ingredients and additives, so will be better for your overall health anyway.   



This last suggestion doesn’t have much science to recommend it - it’s just relaxing. The addition of Epsom Salts and a 20-minute soak in peace is restorative and helps you to unwind in a private calm space. It has also been suggested that it can help you get to sleep if you do it in the evening before bed. Just throw on a podcast, lay back and relax. 


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