Have you ever encountered this particular situation,
Them: “Hey, when are you off again?”
You: “Well I am off tomorrow but I…”
Them: “Oh good because I need you to…”
Or my other personal favorite,
Them: “How are you doing?”
You: “Whew, I am worn out! It’s been a long week!”
Them: “How are you always tired, you only work three days a week!!!”
Let’s start with the fact that nurses work with people every day we are at work. PEOPLE. Like, human beings… HAVE YOU SEEN OUR SPECIES??? We deal with emotional outbursts, insults, violence, unrealistic expectations, death, etc. ON A DAILY BASIS! It’s not just 3 days, or 4 days, or 5 days, or whatever schedule that we work. It’s the emotional baggage we deal with on days off. It’s wondering if you could have saved that patient if you had done one thing differently. It’s trying to figure out why this one nurse hates you. It’s sitting at home thinking about the child abuse victim that you know will be given back to their parents. It’s thinking about the insults the doctor hurled at you because you weren’t moving fast enough. It’s class assignments due at midnight. It’s the kids having soccer, baseball, and basketball practice the couple of days you have off. It’s 3 weeks of laundry that still needs to be done. It’s a house that desperately needs cleaning because you haven’t had time. It’s never having an inkling of downtime.
It’s constantly feeling like you are walking on a razor-thin edge between success and insanity.
The last thing we need is to be made to feel guilty because we are too tired to hang out or because we don’t have time to be someone’s personal errand-runner.
Your days off belong to you. Every single one of them. You deserve to power down. You deserve to do NOTHING if that is what you want to do. You aren’t being “lazy”. You are trying to maintain your sanity. You are not wrong for turning down a night out on the town. You are not wrong for telling someone “no” when they start to come up with your schedule for your day(s) off for you. You are not wrong for shutting out the world temporarily if you need to. You take care of so many people, you deserve to take care of yourself. Nurse yourself back to health. Take your days off and do whatever the hell you want with them.
A nurse that doesn’t take care of themselves can’t effectively take care of others.