When it comes to nursing, stress is a consistent thing that affects our daily life activities. I believe almost every one of you would agree with me. Today, both mental, as well as physical stresses are growing issues among nurses. This is not a thing that can be avoided. I say this because we are stacked with various challenges from deadlines to traffic. In addition, we are also facing a variety of personal issues like health concerns, lack of nutrition, and aging. Furthermore, we also have to handle our thoughts, which would then and there ask us the question of our wisdom of our staging, decisions, and value.
What is stress?
Before getting into stress relievers, let’s understand what stress is. Stress is most common to occur in result of unexpected things like bills, accidents, canceled flights, or getting laid off from a current job. But in these situations, it is the result of interpretation of these events as dangerous, hard, painful, or unfair. It may also be due to the thinking that you do not have necessary resources to cope with your problems. The fact that stress is the result of how we handle events would explain to us why some people can face the same situation in an admirable manner while others can’t.
Remember, reacting to these events and fearing they are dangerous will trigger hormonal responses, which would then speed up or increase the heart beat, breathing rates, blood pressure, metabolism, and muscle pressure. Besides these, a variety of chemical factors will be released that could slow down your digestive abilities, growth, reproductive rates, and tissue repair. In simple words, we could say that chronic stress could be dangerous to your overall health. When it comes to nurses, higher stress levels can impede with your productivity and could negatively affect the level of patient care.
In nursing, stress is common. It is a stressful job after all. Having to care for many sick patients at the same time, with their lives in your hands, can be a lot to handle. Sometimes nurses have to deal with difficult patients, difficult doctors, difficult managers and coworkers. Things come up, and you might not have that time to take down your notes like you thought you would. Now, you have to find time to get down all your patient records.
Fortunately, as stress is the result of how we take things in and react to them, by being more alert to those events that upset or bother us and altering the way we take and react to such events, we can also alter our stress levels.
What is stress management and relaxation?
To put it simply, stress management and relaxation methods involve various coping tools that are used to identify and evaluate stress and take it in a more constructive way. They are the tools that are utilized to let go your stress and decrease its negative effects on your life. In general, stress management would involve investigating the following steps of the stress process and then change the way you respond to it with a view of interrupting the process and reducing its effects.
The pattern of stress response will look like:
- Life situation happens
- Taken to be stress
- Emotional arousal
- Physiological arousal
More often, the problems are because the people react to the emotional stressors with the physical reactions rather than using constructive emotional responses. In this process, the people would generally end up creating both physical and emotional issues.
The solution to these problems would start with a close look and keeping track of the situations that cause your stress. Once you can identify the life situation and know exactly how to react and what the results are, you will be able to change your response for the purpose of maintaining an even keel. For all the cases of stress, effective stress management would involve slowing down and staying in the current situation instead of worrying and falling back into the past or propelling into the future.
Following are the top stress relievers for nurses.
Stress relieving exercises
It's not easy for you to hit the gym in the midst of your hectic work schedules. So, here are some exercises that can be done during your shift. Give ten minutes every day for these simple moves and the results will be physically and emotionally relieving.
Working your gluteus: While completing your documentation or standing and waiting for someone or something, you can perform some toe rises. Just rise up on the toes slowly and squeeze the glutes together at the top. Hold your position for some time, relax yourself, and lower yourself to the original position. Repeat these steps for as long as you can.
Lifting your legs: If you are just like other nurses, then it's safe to say you don't have much time for sitting. But, whenever you sit, remember it’s the ideal time for some leg lifts. Just take the proper posture in a chair and slowly lift one of your legs, hold it for few seconds and put it down. Note that slow movements are important here. Also, you must not let your foot just drop. Alternate legs so both of your legs get a workout.
Kicking your butt: This exercise needs to be done near a wall if you are afraid of losing your balance. For this, you must stand straight with your feet a few inches apart. Now, lift one of your feet and bring your heel close to the buttocks. Now, slowly put it down to the original position. Try to repeat this at least ten to fifteen times and then proceed to the next leg.
Chair squats: For this, you must first make sure your chair is stable. Stand up in front of your chair facing forward. Now, slowly start lowering yourself as if you are going to sit down. While doing so, keep your back straight. Just as you are reaching the seat, hold for few seconds and return back to the standing position instead of actually sitting down. Repeat this movement.
Normal squats: You can do regular squat moves when you have a minute, too. Just keep your back straight and squat as if you are about to sit on a chair/stool. Hold in this position few seconds and return to the original position again.
Wall sitting: For somewhat harder exercise than your squat, you can try a wall sit. Just stand with your back straight on a wall and move your feet two-foot lengths away from it. Now, slowly slide down the wall till you reach the sitting position. Hold this position for 20 seconds to a minute and slide back up slowly.
Stair climbing: Just take the stairs rather than those elevators, and try to add some more extra steps into your day. An easy way to do this is to go up one extra floor and then come back down again to the floor you actually want to go. You can also climb up some floors during lunch or other free time instead of just sitting and relaxing.
Meditation can involve trying to concentrate on just one thing at a time, may it be a word or a picture, or focus just on the flow of your breath. This way, you are trying to exclude all your thoughts. Remember, by concentrating just on one thing, it will be very difficult for you to worry, to fear, to hate, or to get angry. This kind of concentration will also be useful in selecting what thoughts you need to concentrate on.
This would focus on the process of breathing, various physical sensations, and the sounds that come along with your breathing. Remember, shallow breathing or what you would call improper breathing could result in increased levels of anxiety, depression, fatigue, muscular tension, and headaches. On the other hand, deep and controlled breathing would increase the levels of oxygen that enter into the lungs and the levels of carbon dioxide exhaled from them. These processes would help your body as well as mind to work more efficiently. You can try different types of controlled breathing techniques for 1 to 5 minutes, 3 to 5 times per day, and as and when required to get relief from the symptoms of stress.
Communication is among the best ways nurses can reduce stress in a given day. A health expert says that everyone in a health care organization is dealing with stress, and poor and inconsistent communication would increase their stress levels. If you are able to cultivate a culture of purposeful communication, stress levels can reduce significantly. Create an environment in which others can share any information completely and openly. This is very important when it comes to patients because their levels of trust would increase and they would become compliant with the care you provide.
Finally, remember your stress levels can reach a maximum level if you are hungry or dehydrated. Therefore, make sure you are keeping yourself hydrated, and make sure that you are eating well. The best way to do this is to pack some snacks like crackers or fruits that can be eaten quickly during a break and keep a mug full of water that you can sip frequently. Whenever you are feeling weak or lightheaded, take something immediately and drink an abundant amount of water or juice.
- Stress is the result of how we handle events.
- By being more alert to events that upset or bother us and altering the way we take and react to such events, we can also alter our stress levels.
- As a nurse, you can exercise, stay hydrated, and practice controlled breathing on the job to relieve stress.