School Nursing

The Relentless School Nurse: Taking Intentional Pauses Are Part of My Back-to-School Plan – Part 2

This is part 2 of the power of taking intentional pauses as part of the 2023-2024 school year. If you read Part 1, you may have been wondering just how this is even possible! Taking intentional pauses as a school nurse is essential for your well-being and the quality of care you provide. Here are some strategies to effectively incorporate pauses into your daily routine:

  1. Plan Breaks: Schedule short breaks throughout your day. These breaks don’t need to be long – even 5 to 10 minutes can make a difference. Use this time to step away from your work area, stretch, take a few deep breaths, and clear your mind. Outside of true emergencies, not perceived emergencies, we can shut down for a few minutes to regroup. Encouraging students and even staff to wait can be a productive use of their time. 

  2. Protect Your Lunch: Use your lunch break as a designated pause. Enjoy your meal away from your workspace, and try to engage in activities that relax you, such as reading, listening to music, or taking a short walk. Not taking your lunch is not a badge of honor, it is teaching people that you don’t need breaks, when in fact, you absolutely do!

  3. Practice Mindfulness: Incorporate mindfulness techniques into your pauses. Mindfulness can help reduce stress and improve focus. Try deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, or simply taking a moment to focus on your senses and the present moment. Mindfulness also helps with the common feeling of being overwhelmed with all there is to do, especially during the first few weeks of school. Truthfully, we can only do one thing, see one person, answer one email, take one phone call & process one physical exam at a time. Mindfulness reminds us of being in the moment.

  4. Hydration Breaks: Use your need to stay hydrated as a cue for a pause. Take a few minutes to drink water and give yourself a mental break. Use this time to stretch and refocus before returning to your tasks.

  5. Quiet Reflection: Find a quiet spot where you can sit and reflect, even if it is sitting in your car.  Use this time to review your day, consider any challenging situations, and think about ways to approach them more effectively in the future.

  6. Disconnect Digitally: If possible, step away from your computer and phone during your pauses. This can help you mentally detach from work-related tasks and give your eyes a rest from screens.

  7. Social Interaction: Connect with colleagues during your breaks. Sharing a quick conversation or a light moment can provide social support and help you recharge. This will improve the feeling of isolation and will better integrate you into the school community. Sometimes our isolation is self-imposed, and I am saying this from first-hand knowledge. 

  8. Set Boundaries: Communicate your need for breaks to your colleagues and supervisors. Establish clear boundaries to ensure that you have the time you need to pause and recharge without interruptions. If you are part of your teacher’s union and a preparation period and duty-free lunch are included, stick to your contract. We teach people how to treat us and we are not machines, school nurses need breaks too! 

Remember, the key is to prioritize your well-being and make these pauses a regular part of your routine. By taking intentional breaks, you’ll be better equipped to handle the demands of your role as a school nurse and provide optimal care to your students.

What would you add to this list? How might you implement one or two of these suggestions this year? Please stay in touch and let me know! I would love to include your responses in a future blog!


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