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They say you can’t polish a turd, but actually, you can. All it takes is a good set of rituals. If that sounds like too much work, just don’t eat the turd. Instead, focus on something far more important: your nursing shift. I know what you’re thinking: “I don’t have time for pre-shift rituals! I’m in the middle of a global pandemic and there’s no time to waste.” Fair enough—but stop right there. We all have time to waste. Even if you’re in the middle of a global pandemic, there’s still time to squeeze in some pre-shift ritualizing (though it might mean foregoing your daily hour-long shower). Rituals are important because they help us get our mind right before we clock in and risk a bodily fluid incident that could ruin our entire afternoon wardrobe choices. In any case, here are some rituals from my own pre-shift routine that might make your shift go smoother:

What to eat pre-shift

  • Avoid foods that are high in fat, sugar and/or fiber.
  • Avoid foods that are high in protein.
  • Forgo salt-heavy meals as well.
  • Skip the coffee, soda and other sources of caffeine — even if it’s decaf (which means it will still be slightly caffeinated).
  • No alcoholic beverages before or during your shift either; they can negatively affect your concentration and reaction time.

What to wear pre-shift

If you’re like me, you love wearing the same thing every day. This makes it easy to get ready in the morning and not have to think about what you’re going to wear. It also saves energy because you don’t have to decide what clothes are appropriate for your next shift.

However, if you plan on working as a nurse, I would strongly recommend changing into something more appropriate for this job before heading into work. The most important thing that nurses need is their uniform—and yes, it’s okay if it’s just scrubs with a cute top underneath! But don’t forget that nurses also need everything from shoes (comfortable ones) to watches (with alarms set), badges (with name tags) and even pens so they can write down notes when they talk with patients or their families after seeing them in person or talking over the phone during off-hours hours when other staff members aren’t available nearby at all times during those shifts.”

How to get your mind right pre-shift

Get your mind right before shift is a complicated process, but it can be simplified into 5 easy steps.

  • Take a shower and get dressed
  • Eat breakfast or lunch (depending on the time of day)
  • Talk to a good friend or family member about something positive that happened recently in their life
  • Read an inspirational book or blog post (this one isn’t mandatory)
  • Listen to some music that inspires you

Some rituals can help make your shift go smoother

You know what makes shift go by more smoothly?

  • Clean your scrubs. If you can’t clean them, at least put on a fresh pair. There’s nothing worse than walking around with scrubs that are dirty or smelly.
  • Eat healthy food during your lunch break. The best thing to eat is leftovers from the night before, but if you don’t have any of those, try something new!
  • Drink plenty of water while working—you’ll stay hydrated and energized all day long.
  • Wear comfortable shoes so that you won’t get tired during your shift, especially when doing hard labor tasks like cleaning up vomit or taking out trash bags full of garbage!


If you haven’t tried any of these, I recommend starting with the music. You won’t regret it!