1. Exercise regularly
Exercising has long been proven to reduce burnout. But for nurses who are on their feet for 12 hours a day, going for a run after work may not sound very appealing.
One of the best exercises for stress-relief is yoga. Yoga has been proven to improve cardio and circulatory health, manage weight and boost energy levels. A quick daily routine can help you focus yourself and blow off steam accumulated from a long workweek.
2. Engage in meditation
The best part of meditation is that it can be done at work or at home. If you’re having a stressful day at work, find a quiet place and take five minutes to close your eyes and clear your mind. You may find that some of your stress ebbs away, allowing you to continue your day with a little more energy.
3. Do an activity you love
It’s easy to put aside things you love doing in favor of sitting on the couch after a hard day’s work. However, making time for an activity you enjoy, whether it be gardening, painting, reading or playing a sport, can reduce stress.
4. Take a mental health day
If you’re really feeling the stress, in some cases the best move is to simply take a day off. It may feel a little strange to take time off if you’re not sick and don’t have a vacation planned, but the occasional recharge day can go a long way.
Taking a day off can clear your mind and help you refocus.
5. Spend time with friends and family
Whether your friends are fellow nurses or not, carving out time to hang out with those you love can help brighten your mood. Spending time with family and friends reduces risk of depression and high blood pressure.
Find time to schedule even a quick coffee break with a close friend who will listen to you and sympathize with you.
6. Try essential oil therapy
Aromatherapy comes in many forms such as oils, candles and bath salts. With a wide range of scents, each with its own “healing” properties, aromatherapy is an accessible and fairly inexpensive remedy.
If you do plan to utilize aromatherapy or other strong scents in the workplace, be sure to clear it with your employer—some may have allergies or sensitivities to these scents.
7. Eat healthy
While this is not an overnight solution, changing your diet to incorporate healthier foods can have a long-term impact on your overall mood and energy levels. Diets rich in processed foods and high in refined sugars are linked to an increase in mood disorders such as depression.
Don’t have time to spend meal prepping or sit down for a proper lunch? Try stocking up on mood-boosting foods such as bananas, dark chocolate, unsalted almonds or unbuttered popcorn. As the saying goes, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so starting off with a healthy meal can help when you find yourself pressed for time on your lunch break.
8. Get more sleep
Whether you work the night shift or push through 12-hour shifts, chances are you are not getting the recommended amount of sleep. With a job as physically taxing as nursing, it is important to let your body rest in between shifts. Researchsuggests sleep deprivation is linked to a lowered immune system, increased risk of obesity and heart disease.
The benefits outweigh anything else: Getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night will help you feel energized and refreshed. Try blocking out that much time each night to get a solid night’s rest. If you work at night, try black-out shades for day sleeping. Melatonin can also help you adjust your sleep cycle.
9. Learn breathing exercises
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or overstressed at work and don’t know what to do, breathing exercises may help. Quick and easy to do, learning how to control your breathing and center yourself may be the key to getting you through your day.
10. Retreat to a peaceful place
Taking breaks is extremely important for stressed out and overworked nurses. Trust your instincts. If you feel so tense you can’t take it anymore, ask to get outside to whatever rejuvenation station is available. It is even better if these breaks can take place in peaceful surroundings. Some hospitals have created special spots where their staff and travel nurses can retreat, such as outdoor garden areas or quiet rooms with calming artwork and peaceful background music.
11. Remember it’s not personal
Know that patients and family members with a sick loved one are under some of the worst stress of their lives. When they unleash their fear or anger you, they aren’t seeing you as an individual, but as an extension of the hospital or practice. Make sure to protect yourself and always explain the situation to your floor manager — especially if it was intense — and remove yourself from the situation. Taking a couple of minutes away can help you clear your head, calm your nerves and recharge.
12. Talk about it
It’s easy for nurses to finish a shift, come home, and just want to zone out in front of the TV or computer. However, the stresses don’t go away. Challenging events and situations may replay when the nurse is trying to sleep, and when the next shift rolls around, the stressor is still there. After a long and harried shift, it may help to talk about it. Sometimes it’s difficult with a friend or spouse who is not in healthcare. However, the point of talking things out is to get it out, not necessarily to find a solution. Talking about stressors helps to recognize them – which, later on, can help address and hopefully resolve them.
Talking about stressors also helps the nurse identify what the actual issues are. For example, a nurse may have a tough day because staffing has been poor. In speaking about it later, he or she may discover that the extra work isn’t necessarily the problem, it’s that the manager isn’t hearing the nurse’s concerns about patient safety. To resolve the issue, the nurse would need to address the communication between the staff and the manager.
Nursing stress can happen to anyone in this field. Do what you can to recognize when you’re overwhelmed and try your hand at a few of these relaxing remedies. Returning to work with a clear, refreshed mind will not only benefit you, but also your patients.
Clearly nursing can be a stressful job, but there are plenty of good reasons to stick it out through the tough days. Check out nursingwritingtutors.com for more tips.