Nurses ….. it’s about time we talked about lunch ! Not what’s in your lunch box, or your sandwich preference but actually taking a lunch break. I don’t mean grabbing a salad at your desk or eating whilst writing notes … I mean a real actual lunch break! What’s stopping us? Why is it that a failure to take a lunch break is a badge of honour amongst some nurses? How do we change this?
Over the past 18 months we have been through so much, the pressures on the services we provide have been great and we have all stepped up as nurses to be there for the people who have needed us…. It’s been hard! When you have a million and one things to do in your working day it’s hard to stop and think of our selves. I know it’s been hard because I too have been guilty at times of skipping a lunch break, but the pandemic has taught me this … the need to stop and rest is paramount, I would (and will) go so far as to say that this is a patient safety issue !
Let’s frame this another way … imagine you were on an airplane (difficult to do during these times I know!) and the pilot said that they hadn’t had a break all day … scary stuff ! We, as nurses, hold just as many lives in our hands, we make just as many critical decisions that an airline pilot does and yet it is acceptable for nurses to not take adequate rest breaks.
This problem – and it is a problem – has so many contributing factors that impact individual nurses ability to take this vital time off from organisational cultures of presenteeism and a lack of positive role models in regard to looking after ourselves as nurses to staffing levels and demands on services. But the simple fact is that we have to make a change – taking a break means that you come back to your work refreshed and able to make decisions, taking a break is about working smarter not harder, taking a break means taking care of us so that we don’t burn out! In this era of nursing taking a break is even more important than it ever has been.
I have heard the phrase “Be the change you wish to see in the world” so many times and it is something I wholeheartedly believe in …. So this is me taking a stand and taking my lunch break, being a role model to others, ensuring my colleagues take their break and working hard to ensure that not taking a break is no longer an option in nursing. Who’s going join me for lunch ??