Take a breather


Some sensible ways of clearing your head

Around 10 % of Germans regularly suffer from disturbed sleep. Nursing staff are particularly affected by the problem, which creates a huge strain. By ensuring deliberate breaks, power naps and good time management, you can achieve a huge amount, not only for your employees but also for your own benefit.

1. Introduce power napping

The figures compiled by the “Deutschland schläft gesund” healthy sleep initiative are alarming. When asked about their sleeping habits, 64 % of the nurses surveyed said that they were suffering from poor sleep. When you consider that irregular working hours and high stress levels cause real problems for our circadian rhythms, it is little wonder. The consequences of this are serious: a lack of sleep not only reduces a person’s concentration and ability to respond; it also weakens the immune system. And these are all factors that nursing staff, with their heavy responsibilities, can do without – not to mention the risk of high sickness absence rates among the staff affected. You see, those who continually fail to get enough sleep are also more likely to develop serious chronic conditions, such as diabetes or cardiovascular diseases. Is there anything that can help? Well, yes there is a matter of fact. Your staff can start by taking 5 to 20 minutes out of their working day for a short snooze. This is called a power nap because it will recharge their batteries for the next 3 to 4 hours. The same goes for you as a manager and the practice can – of course – also be adopted by other sectors. Here are five tips to help you: 1. Explicitly encourage your staff to recharge their batteries by taking a power nap once a day. Please also feel free to lead by example. 2. With this in mind, you could perhaps set up a suitable rest area within the staffroom/ break room in consultation with your staff. 3. Try to organise the shift plan around staff preferences. Each member of staff will generally have their own needs and tendencies in this regard. One person might find it easier to deal with short gaps between shifts than another person who prefers to have a longer break in between. 4. Urge your staff to take the proper breaks during a night shift. 5. Make sure that your team is ready and able to tackle its tasks and keep the workload realistic to avoid stress and overload. Incidentally: a set of carefully selected physical exercises can also help revitalise body and mind by providing people with a breath of fresh air, so to speak. Instructions for all kinds of short exercises can be found on the Internet by searching for “office workout”, but please check their suitability first.

2. Optimise your time management

Everyone has the same number of hours in a day, but rarely before has there been such pressure on people to get the most out of those 24 hours in both their private and their professional lives. And that is why the shelves of our bookshops are stacked with so many time management guides. Essentially, these aim to provide strategies for organising your work and yourself in the optimum manner, such as correctly estimating the length of tasks, prioritising tasks, planning your day and actively scheduling periods of recreation and rest. The skills required also include establishing boundaries by saying no when necessary. The following tips are just a small but important snapshot of the many measures available. 1. Learn how to prioritise tasks. Not everything that is urgent is important. 2. Analyse your personal work routines and build in some buffer time (for unforeseen events). 3. Pay attention to your circadian rhythm and any phases when you are particularly productive. 4. Group together similar tasks and tackle them in one go. 5. Avoid disruptions/interruptions. Provided that work and breaks are organised in a sensible way, this short list of rules can go a long way towards countering everyday stress or eliminating it altogether.

Exercises for a quick workout

Exercise 1: Keep rolling those shoulders

Let your arms hang loose at your sides. Roll your shoulders backwards making the biggest possible circles you can manage. Repeat 10 times. Take a short break, loosen up and then do the exercise again.

Exercise 2: Hang loose

Bend forwards, allowing your torso and arms to hang down in a relaxed manner. Maintain this position for as long as comfortable.

Exercise 3: Reach for the stars

Keeping your torso upright, reach up towards the ceiling with one arm and then the other; try to stretch further and further each time; do not allow your torso to sway; repeat the stretching movement 20 times.



This article is part of our magazine "PROconcept". You are welcome t download it. You can find this article on pages 16-17.

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