DiversityNursing Blog

Nurses, Make Time For Stress Relief

Posted by Pat Magrath

Thu, Jun 09, 2016 @ 11:45 AM

One of the most stressful professions is Nursing and all Nurses are under a tremendous amount of stress.  The most stressed are the ED, ICU and OR Nurses, but all are under a lot of pressure of one kind or another. Dealing with traumatic injuries and terminal illness involves a lot of stress and grief. Long hours dealing with grief and injury all take a toll. Hobbies, activities and classes are a good way to help relieve some of that stress.
 
nursestress
There's a multitude of things you can do in the summer and anytime of the year for enjoyment and to relax.  Everyone has a different way of relaxing depending on their likes and dislikes.  From classes to hobbies to fun in the sun, there's something for everyone.
 
  • Classes:  Although classes in the summer are not usually work related, there are many that can help with relaxation.  There are classes available from Feng Shui and Tai Chi to crocheting, woodworking or pottery making.   If you live in or near a fairly large city, you should have literally hundreds of choices. Anything that involves learning something new, movement or concentration is good to relieve stress.

  • Hobbies:  Already have a hobby?  Summer is a great time to pursue them.  Hiking, gardening, camping and rock collecting are all good summertime hobbies. These are all outdoor, fresh air pursuits.  Some for indoors include reading, stamp or coin collecting, knitting, baking or cooking, making jewelry or scrapbooking. 
    Starting an aquarium is fun and watching the fish is very soothing.  Learn to play a musical instrument like the piano.  The right type of music can be very relaxing
    .

  • Meditation: Learning to meditate is terrific for stress relief.  There are CD's you can buy or get from the library that can teach you meditation. There are also music CD's available for meditation.  Meditation also helps to lower blood pressure and relieve anxiety. Tai Chi is an active meditation and it's highly recommended to help deal with stress.
taichi
  • Exercise: Bicycling, walking, yoga and swimming are all good stress relievers along with most other forms of exercise. Take a dance class or Zumba. Get out in the sunshine with boating, fishing, water skiing, flea markets and garage sales. Go antiquing or to auctions. Plenty of sun and vitamin D are great for stress.  Be sure to wear a sunscreen!
Leave it at Work
 
There are many ways to relieve stress, but most important is to leave it at work when you walk out the door. We know this is easier said than done.  There are going to be days when you take things home with you. You can't avoid it.  Because you’re a Nurse, you are naturally compassionate, loving and giving.  It's part of who you are and why you became a Nurse.  
 
Some other ideas -- go to a museum, the local farmer's market, the zoo, take a drive in the country or a short trip.  Just getting away for a few days can do wonders for your stress level and give you a new perspective.
 
To sum it up, find something you like to do that makes you feel good.  Whether it's summer, winter, fall or spring there's something for any time of the year.
 
 
Want more tips on dealing with stress in the Nursing field? Just ask one of our Nurse Leaders, they will be glad to help! Just click below!  Ask A Nurse

Topics: stress

How to Deal with the Stresses of Nursing

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Feb 10, 2016 @ 10:48 AM

ThinkstockPhotos-500786572.jpgNursing is one of the most stressful occupations in America. Nurses have higher rates of illness and psychiatric problems than other professionals. There are things Nurses and other health professionals can do to minimize the stresses of Nursing. The best way to do this is to look at individual stressors and find ways to minimize or cope with them. 

Long Hours and Shift Work 

Long hours are stressful both physically and mentally. According to USA Today, the long hours Nurses work have become such a problem that the American Nurses Association has made recommendations about how many hours Nurses should work. The recommendations include not allowing Nurses to work more than 12 hours a day. Shift work also causes a lot of stress for Nurses, and the AMA has also made the recommendation to minimize night shifts for Nurses working both day and night shifts. 

Insufficient Resources 

Having insufficient resources makes a nurses' job more stressful, and it makes it harder for them to do their job properly. Insufficient resources take on different forms in different settings. Many times it is a shortage of Nursing personnel, which of course means the Nurses that are working have a higher workload. Other times, it is a lack of the material resources that Nurses need to do their job, whether it is due to budget cuts or oversight. Even small items like tape cause a big inconvenience when a Nurse has to search for it before she can draw blood or place an IV.  

Resources can be improved by improving pay for Nurses and making sure there is enough room in the hospital budget for other necessities. Proper inventory keeping is also important. If a Nurse notices a shortage in a particular area, it is important to mention it. Hopefully items are ordered immediately and put in the appropriate paces.

Poor Reward System 

Nurses are essential to the proper functioning of hospitals, and they work very hard. Yet many facilities don't have any kind of reward system in place, nor do they take the time to tell Nurses they are valued and appreciated. Many times Nurses are taken for granted.  

Studies have proven that rewarding employees for good behavior is essential to them being satisfied with their jobs and to retaining employees. Hospitals should have a rewards system in place. Nurses should also recognize each other for their hard work. 

Bullying and Abuse 

No one should have to endure bullying and abuse in the workplace. The ANA found that 17% of Nurses report being the victim of physical abuse at work, and 57% of Nurses reported being verbally abused or threatened. Physical abuse was usually perpetrated by patients or family members. Verbal abuse and bullying was usually at the hands of coworkers. 

Hospitals should hold educational seminars about what constitutes verbal abuse and bullying. Human Resources employees should be available to mediate and help employees solve conflicts. To protect against violence from patients and their family members, it is a good idea to have some type of security presence in the hospital. 

Lack of Communication  

Lack of communication also causes stress for Nurses. Communication between Nurses and doctors is essential to a hospital running smoothly. Daily or weekly meetings are one way to ensure proper communication. A suggestion box can give employees an anonymous way to communicate suggestions. 

Compassion Fatigue and Burnout 

Compassion fatigue happens when a Nurse stops caring about their job and patients. Sustained stress over a long period of time can lead to compassion fatigue. Burnout occurs when a Nurse becomes depressed, withdraws from others, and feels fatigued. 

To prevent compassion fatigue and burnout, try to take time off to relax. Don’t over extend yourself. Hospitals that have a reward system in place and make Nurses feel appreciated helps combat burnout. Everyone wants to feel appreciated in both our personal and professional lives.

Related articles: Dealing With Depressed Patients

6 Tips on Stress and Anxiety Management in Nursing

 

Nurses’ Survey Results Show ‘Dangerous’ Stress Levels

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Topics: stress

Study: ICU Nurses Benefit From Workplace Intervention To Reduce Stress

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, May 20, 2015 @ 02:25 PM

http://news.nurse.com 

stress resized 600A small study by researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center found that a workplace mindfulness-based intervention reduced stress levels of employees exposed to a highly stressful occupational environment, according to a news release.

Members of a surgical ICU at the academic medical center were randomized to a stress-reduction intervention or a control group. The eight-week group intervention included mindfulness, gentle stretching, yoga, meditation and music therapy in the workplace. Psychological and biological markers of stress were measured one week before and one week after the intervention to see if these coping strategies would help reduce stress and burnout among participants.

Results of this study, published in the April 2015 issue of Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, showed levels of the chemical salivary alpha amylase, were significantly decreased from the first to second assessments in the intervention group. The control group showed no changes. Chronic stress and stress reactivity have been found associated with increased levels of salivary alpha amylase, according to the release. Psychological components of stress and burnout were measured using well-established self-report questionnaires. “Our study shows that this type of mindfulness-based intervention in the workplace could decrease stress levels and the risk of burnout,” one of the study’s authors, Maryanna Klatt, PhD, associate clinical professor in the department of family medicine at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center, said in the release. “What’s stressful about the work environment is never going to change. But what we were interested in changing was the nursing personnel’s reaction to those stresses.”

Klatt said salivary alpha amylase, which is a biomarker of the sympathetic nervous system activation, was reduced by 40% in the intervention group.

Klatt, who is a trained mindfulness and certified yoga instructor, developed and led the mindfulness-based intervention for 32 participants in the workplace setting. At baseline, participants scored the level of stress of their work at 7.15 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most stressful. The levels of work stress did not change between the first and second set of assessments, but their reaction to the work stress did change, according to the release. 

When stress is part of the work environment, it is often difficult to control and can negatively affect employees’ health and ability to function, lead author Anne-Marie Duchemin, PhD, research scientist and associate professor adjunct in the department of psychiatry and behavioral health at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center, said in the release. “People who are subjected to chronic stress often will exhibit symptoms of irritability, nervousness, feeling overwhelmed; have difficulty concentrating or remembering; or having changes in appetite, sleep, heart rate and blood pressure,” Duchemin said ih the release. “Although work-related stress often cannot be eliminated, effective coping strategies may help decrease its harmful effects.” 

The study was funded in part by the OSU Harding Behavioral Health Stress, Trauma and Resilience Program, part of Ohio State’s Neurological Institute.

Topics: employees, ICU, studies, Medical Center, health, healthcare, research, nurses, doctors, medical, burnout, stress, medical staff, surgical, stress levels, mindfulness

Grown-Ups Get Out Their Crayons

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Mar 30, 2015 @ 12:27 PM

By 

Source: www.nytimes.com

coloring master675 resized 600It may surprise fans of Johanna Basford’s intricately hand-drawn coloring books that the artist is, by her own admission, “pretty bad” at coloring.

“I can’t stay in the lines,” she said sheepishly.

Not that it matters. Ms. Basford’s coloring book “Secret Garden,” a 96-page collection of elaborate black-and-white ink drawings of flowers, leaves, trees and birds, has become a global best-seller.

Since its release in spring 2013, “Secret Garden” has sold more than 1.4 million copies in 22 languages. It shot to the top of Amazon’s best-seller list this month, overtaking books by authors like Harper Lee, Anthony Doerr and Paula Hawkins. Her follow-up, “Enchanted Forest,” which came out in February, is briskly selling through its first print run of nearly 226,000 copies.

What makes Ms. Basford’s breakout success all the more surprising is her target audience: adults who like coloring books.

There are, it seems, a lot of them. Though it is tempting to describe the market for her books as niche, Ms. Basford, a 31-year-old illustrator in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, has quickly outgrown that label.

Like Play-Doh, jungle gyms and nursery rhymes, coloring books have always seemed best suited for the preschool set. So Ms. Basford and her publisher were surprised to learn that there was a robust — and lucrative — market for coloring books aimed at grown-ups. When they first tested the waters with “Secret Garden” a year ago, they released a cautiously optimistic first printing of 16,000 books.

“I thought my mom was going to have to buy a lot of copies,” Ms. Basford said. “When the sales started to take off, it was a real shock.”

Surging demand caught Ms. Basford and her publisher off guard. Fan mail poured in from busy professionals and parents who confided to Ms. Basford that they found coloring in her books relaxing. More accolades flowed on social media, as people posted images from their coloring books.

Hard-core fans often buy several copies of her books at a time, to experiment with different color combinations. Others have turned it into a social activity. Rebekah Jean Duthie, who lives in Queensland, Australia, and works for the Australian Red Cross, says she regularly gathers with friends for “coloring circles” at cafes and in one another’s homes.

“Each page can transport you back to a gentler time of life,” she said of Ms. Basford’s books in an email.

Ms. Basford has become something of a literary celebrity in South Korea, where “Secret Garden” has sold more than 430,000 copies, she says. The craze was kicked off in part, it seems, by a Korean pop star, Kim Ki-bum, who posted a delicately colored-in floral pattern from Ms. Basford’s book on Instagram, where he has 1.8 million followers.

Part of the apparent appeal is the tactile, interactive nature of the books, which offer respite to the screen-weary. “People are really excited to do something analog and creative, at a time when we’re all so overwhelmed by screens and the Internet,” she said. “And coloring is not as scary as a blank sheet of paper or canvas. It’s a great way to de-stress.”

Ms. Basford started out in fashion, working on silk-screen designs. Then she opened a studio on her parents’ trout and salmon farm in Scotland, and began designing hand-drawn wallpaper for luxury hotels and boutiques. When the financial crisis hit, her business evaporated. She closed the studio and found work as a commercial illustrator for companies like Starbucks, Nike and Sony.

Her publishing break came in 2011, when an editor at Laurence King Publishing discovered her work online. The editor thought her graceful illustrations could work well as a children’s coloring book.

“I came back and said I would like to do a coloring book for grown-ups, and it got a bit quiet for a moment,” Ms. Basford said. “Coloring books for adults weren’t as much of a thing then.”

To convince them that it was a viable market, she drew five sample pages of detailed, mosaic-like illustrations. The publishers were sold.

“When Johanna first approached us with the idea, we knew that people would love her illustrations as much as we did, but could never have predicted just how big the adult coloring trend would be,” said Jo Lightfoot, editorial director of Laurence King Publishing.

Ms. Basford spent the next nine months working on the book at night and freelancing as an illustrator during the day. Occasionally she had doubts. “I was worried that coloring for adults was silly and it was just me that wanted to do it,” she said.

It turns out she was far from alone. Other entries to this small but growing category include Patricia J. Wynne’s lavish, nature-themed Creative Haven coloring books — discreetly described as being “designed for experienced colorists” — and the more explicitly titled “Coloring Books for Grownups,” released by Chiquita Publishing. A subspecies of these books promote the meditative aspects of coloring and doodling, including “Color Me Calm” (subtitle: “A Zen Coloring Book”) and books that promise “Easy Meditation Through Coloring.”

Major publishers are seizing on the trend. This year, Little, Brown will release four illustrated coloring books for adults, all subtitled “Color Your Way to Calm.” The books, “Splendid Cities” by the British artists Rosie Goodwin and Alice Chadwick and three titles by the French illustrator Zoé de Las Cases, feature detailed cityscapes with famous landmarks, cafes and street life. Promotional materials for the books emphasize the health benefits of “mindful coloring,” noting that the activity “has been shown to be a stress reliever for adults.”

Ms. Basford is now working on her third book, after soliciting suggestions for themes from fans. A vocal faction has requested an ocean-themed coloring book. “I’ve been drawing starfish and seahorses this afternoon,” she said.

In the meantime, “Secret Garden” has sold out in many markets, to the consternation of fans. Laurence King is reprinting 75,000 copies for the United States.

This month, Ms. Basford tried to calm her followers with a post on her Facebook page, promising that newly printed books would be shipping in a few weeks: “Don’t panic! New stock of Secret Garden and Enchanted Forest is on its way!”

Some were not placated. “WEEKS?” one frantic follower replied. “I can’t possibly wait WEEKS!”

Topics: mental health, adults, health, healthcare, stress, coloring books

Public radio documentary ‘Resilient Nurses’ chronicles what ails the nation’s RNs – and what might Heal Their Broken Hearts

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Feb 18, 2015 @ 12:41 PM

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It’s something each of the nation’s 3.1 million RNs understands intimately: Being a nurse is intense. The hospitals and clinics where they work are often stressful. And patient care and healthcare systems have never been more complex.

Nationally, nurse turnover stands at 20 percent, but nearly 40 percent of nurses are ready to leave their job after a single year. About 14 percent leave the field altogether, and the ‘working wounded’ that remain are at best demoralized and at worst error-prone. And dealing with RN turnover is among the biggest, costliest burdens in healthcare today.

It’s why University of Virginia School of Nursing’s Compassionate Care Initiative has sponsored a new Public Radio documentary series – Resilient Nurses, now available online – which will be heard on many public radio stations starting this month and also on Sunday Feb. 22 on the NPR Channel (#122) of SiriusXM satellite radio at 4pm ET / 1pm PT.  

Hosted by award-winning documentary producer David Freudberg of Humankind, the program takes a no-holds-barred look at what ails American RNs: the stress, the exhaustion, and the pressured environments that often lead to their burnout. 

But beyond sourcing RNs’ biggest challenges, Freudberg offers a promising glimpse into the growing number of nurses hoping to improve their lot by harnessing well-being through resilience. Freudberg also chronicles the growing movement of resilience at a handful of American clinics and hospitals where administrators realize the very real financial and personal stake they have in helping their nurses effectively handle stress. 

And the stories are inspiring. Sharing the voices of these powerful, real nurses may be an important step in healing the profession’s broken hearts, strengthening American RNs’ care and practice through a practitioner-centered approach to well-being. 

 

The Resilient Nurses audio podcast is now available online. Editors and bloggers may download and publish graphics and a brief program description from http://www.humanmedia.org/nurse/resources.php.

We hope the program will inspire nurses, nursing professors, nursing students and others in healthcare to begin their own resilient practices.

Christine Phelan Kueter, writer

Source: U.Va. School of Nursing

Topics: nursing students, Nursing Professors, nursing, health, healthcare, nurse, nurses, patients, hospital, treatment, career, stress

Why America’s Nurses Are Burning Out

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Sep 29, 2014 @ 01:27 PM

By Dr. Sanjay Gupta

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Annette Tersigni decided at the age of 48 that she wanted to make a difference. She attended nursing school and became a registered nurse three years later. “Having that precious pair of letters – RN – at the end of my name gave me everything I wanted,” she writes on her website. Before long, Tersigni discovered the rewards – as well as the physical and emotional challenges – that come with nursing.

“I was always stressed when I worked, afraid to get sued for making a mistake or medical error,” says Tersigni, who was working in the heart transplant unit of a North Carolina hospital. “Plus, working the night shift caused me to gain weight and stop working out.” Tersigni moved to another hospital, but the long shifts continued. Three years later, she left her job.

Tersigni’s experience isn’t unusual. Three out of four nurses cited the effects of stress and overwork as a top health concern in a 2011 survey by the American Nurses Association. The ANA attributed problems of fatigue and burnout to “a chronic nursing shortage.” A 2012 report in the American Journal of Medical Quality projected a shortage of registered nurses to spread across the country by 2030.

Work schedules and insufficient staffing are among the factors driving many nurses to leave the profession. American nurses often put in 12-hour shifts over the course of a three-day week. Research found nurses who worked shifts longer than eight to nine hours were two-and-a-half times more likely to experience burnout.

“Our results show that nurses are underestimating their own recovery time from long, intense clinical engagement, and that consolidating challenging work into three days may not be a sustainable strategy to attain the work-life balance they seek,” says study author Linda Aiken, PhD, director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.

Deborah Burger, RN, co-president of the union and professional association National Nurses United, doesn’t believe that long work shifts tell the whole story. “Most people can work a 10- or 12-hour shift if they’ve got the right support and right level of staffing,” Burger says.

“In order for nurses to feel satisfied and fulfilled with their work, the staffing issues must be seriously addressed from a very high level,” says Eva Francis, MSN, RN, CCRN, a former nursing administrator. “Nurses also need to be able to express themselves professionally about the workload, and be heard without the fear of threat to their jobs or the fear of being singled out.”

A new study suggests that nurses’ burnout risk may be related to what drew them to the profession in the first place. Researchers at the University of Akron in Ohio surveyed more than 700 RNs and found that nurses who are motivated primarily by the desire to help others, rather than by enjoyment of the work, were more likely to burn out.

“We assume that people that go into nursing because they are highly motived by helping others are the best nurses,” says study author Janette Dill, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Akron. “But our findings suggest these nurses may be prone to burnout and other negative physical symptoms.”

RELATED: Managing Job Stress

That finding doesn’t surprise Jill O’Hara, a former nurse from Hamburg, NY, who left nursing more than a decade ago.

“When a person goes into nursing as a profession, it’s either because it’s a career path or a calling,” says O’Hara, 56, who now operates her own holistic health consulting practice. “The career nurse can leave work at the end of the day and let it go, but the nurse who enters the field because she is called to it takes those emotionally charged encounters home with her. They are empathetic, literally connecting emotionally with their patients, and it becomes a part of them energetically.”

Besides driving many nurses out of the profession, burnout can compromise the quality of patient care. A study of Pennsylvania hospitals found a “significant association” between high patient-to-nurse ratios and nurse burnout with increased infections among patients. The authors’ conclusion: A reduction in burnout is good for nurses and patients.

So what can be done? O’Hara thinks the burnout issue should be addressed early on, when future nurses are still in school. “I honestly believe the way to truly help nurses avoid burnout is to begin with a foundation of teaching while in school that stresses the importance of knowing yourself,” she says. “By that I mean your strengths and weaknesses. It should be taught that self-care must come first.”

Burger stresses the importance of taking regular breaks on the job. “If you’re not getting those breaks or they’re interrupted, then you don’t have the ability to refresh your spirit,” she says. “It sounds hokey, but it is true that you do need some brain downtime so that you could actually process the information you’ve been given.”

Tersigni, 63, now works part-time at a local hospital, specializing in the health and well-being of other nurses. She founded Yoga Nursing, a stress-management program combining deep breathing, quick stretches, affirmations, and relaxation and meditation techniques. “All of these can be done anytime throughout the day,” Tersigni says. “I even teach nurses to teach these to their patients. So the nurse breathes, stretches, and relaxes, while also teaching it to the patient.”

Source: http://www.everydayhealth.com

Topics: work, burning out, tired, registered nurses, nursing, health, healthcare, nurses, medical, stress

What 30 Minutes a Day can do for Your Mind and Body

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Sep 24, 2014 @ 11:04 AM

By Felicity Dryer

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We live in a high-stress world. Between having to attend to work, kids, homes and run back and forth between meetings and all of the other demands of everyday life, to say that things can get stressful is an understatement. 

If your constant on-the-go lifestyle has left you feeling run down, beat down and just plain old exhausted, then you need to stop and smell the proverbial roses for a little bit.

Taking time to enjoy something that is peaceful and that is just for you can do wonders for your health, your mental clarity and for your happiness. You don’t have to invest much time in such activities, either; reserving just 30 minutes a day to something that you enjoy and that promotes a bit of peacefulness and tranquility can do wonders.

Here’s a look at some activities that you can do for just 30 minutes a day and that will provide you with some simply amazing benefits.

Yoga: It seems like yoga is all the rage in the fitness world as of late (well, not really as of late; it’s been a trend for quite a while) – and there’s a reason why; yoga provides some pretty amazing benefits.

Just 30 minutes of yoga a day will help to increase your strength and flexibility, as well as tone your body. In addition to physical benefits, yoga can also increase your brain function. A recent study conducted by the University of Illinois found that people who participated in just 20 minutes of yoga a day experienced an increase in the speed and accuracy of their brain functions. Yoga also helps to reduce stress levels and boosts mental clarity; talk about some pretty amazing benefits for just 30 minutes of your time each day.

Meditation: Another activity that can provide fantastic benefits in just 30 minutes a day is meditation. When you think of people meditating, what comes to mind? People who are more peaceful, more astute and have more clarity? If so, there’s a good reason why – Because meditation helps to promote all of these things.

In fact, just 30 minutes of meditating a day can boost your creative thinking abilities, heighten your energy levels, decrease your stress levels and even ease the feelings of depression.

A Long Walk: If someone tells you to ‘go take a walk’, take them up on it! There are so many wonderful benefits associated with walking, and the best part is, it is so easy to do. Walking for just 30 minutes a day improves your cardiovascular health, decreases stress and anxiety, helps to keep off excess weight, tones muscles, boosts energy levels and it can even help to decrease your risk of dementia. Walking also just makes you happy. So kick off those painfulwork shoes and dust off your sneakers, and get moving. There is nothing more therapeutic than soaking up the warm sunshine and observing the beauty of nature while walking on a nice day.

Reading: Everyone knows that reading is important, but do you know why? Reading for just 30 minutes each day can increase your vocabulary, boost your creative thinking and critical thinking skills, stimulate your mind, improve your memory and focus and decrease stress levels. So, when you’re feeling like you just need to escape for a little while, curl up with a book or a magazine and submerse yourself in reading.

No matter how crazy your lifestyle is, you can spare just 30 minutes a day to enjoy the benefits that one of these activities can provide. You’ll be amazed by how much happier you will feel – you owe it to yourself!

Source: http://www.interplayhealth.com

Topics: mental health, body, mind, meditation, relax, pressure, yoga, fitness, physical health, health, benefits, lifestyle, stress

Chronic Stress Can Hurt Your Memory

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Jul 21, 2014 @ 12:55 PM

By Serusha Govender and Sara Cheshire

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(CNN) -- Do you tend to forget things when you're stressed? Like when you're late for a meeting and can't remember where you left your car keys? Or when you have to give a big presentation and suddenly forget all your talking points seconds before you start?

There's nothing like stress to make your memory go a little spotty. A 2010 study found that chronic stress reduces spatial memory: the memory that helps you recall locations and relate objects.

Hence, your missing car keys.

University of Iowa researchers recently found a connection between the stress hormone cortisol and short-term memory loss in older rats. Their findings, published in the Journal of Neuroscience this week, showed that cortisol reduced synapses -- connections between neurons -- in the animals' pre-frontal cortex, the area of the brain that houses short-term memory.

But there's a difference between how your brain processes long-term job stress, for example, and the stress of getting into a car accident. Research suggests low levels of anxiety can affect your ability to recall memories; acute or high-anxiety situations, on the other hand, can actually reinforce the learning process.

Acute stress increases your brain's ability to encode and recall traumatic events, according to studies. These memories get stored in the part of the brain responsible for survival, and serve as a warning and defense mechanism against future trauma.

If the stress you're experiencing is ongoing, however, there can be devastating effects.

Neuroscientists from the University of California, Berkeley,found that chronic stress can create long-term changes in the brain. Stress increases the development of white matter, which helps send messages across the brain, but decreases the number of neurons that assist with information processing.

The neuroscientists say the resulting imbalance can affect your brain's ability to communicate with itself, and make you more vulnerable to developing a mental illness.

Defects in white matter have been associated with schizophrenia, chronic depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Research on post-traumatic stress disorder further shows that it can reduce the amount of gray matter in the brain.

The Berkeley researchers believe their findings could explain why young people who are exposed to chronic stress early in life are prone to learning difficulties, anxiety and other mood disorders.

To reduce the effects of stress, the Mayo Clinic recommends identifying and reducing stress triggers. Eating a healthy diet, exercising, getting enough sleep and participating in a stress-reduction activity such as deep breathing, massage or yoga, can also help.

Stress may harm the brain, but it recovers.

Source: www.cnn.com

Topics: study, researchers, the mayo clinic, university of Iowa, Berkeley, health, brain, memory, research, stress

Nurses’ Survey Results Show ‘Dangerous’ Stress Levels

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Jul 02, 2014 @ 11:50 AM

 By Vickie Milazzo

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A huge thank-you to everyone who took our survey “Are You Way Too Stressed Out?”

A remarkable 3,312 of you took the time out of your busy day to complete the survey, and this high response rate highlights the seriousness of this issue to the nursing world.

The results of the survey reveal the dangerous levels of stress that RNs pervasively live with, both at work and in their personal lives. Lack of sleep, 12-hour shifts, night shifts, poor diets, unrealistic workloads, lack of authority at the workplace and unsupportive management are just some of the key contributors to the stress being experienced by RNs today.

RNs are neglected by a system that overworks, under-appreciates and marginalizes the experience of individuals who are the most connected to patients.

Respondents had the opportunity to answer the question, “What are some of the things that stress you out the most?” Many of you were brutally candid, and I cringe at what you continue to put up with on a daily basis. These five responses are representative of the thousands received.

  • “People who have never done your job telling you how to do it. People who have lost sight of the patient — the focus is the $$.”

  • “Not having the authority to take care of the things that need to be done, but being responsible for it.”

  • “Long hours (12-hr shifts), working nights, poor pay, poor benefits that are dependent on maintaining hours to prevent losing the benefits, lack of PTO to cover sick/vacation days.”

  • “Overwork with no relief in sight, working for $3 to $5 dollars less than average city wages …”

  • “Corporate chaos, lack of support, unrealistic expectations, being put in possible license jeopardy due to corporate greed and mismanagement.” 

The system is broken! The very people treating patients are sick and in need of healing themselves. This is crazy.

The stress placed on RNs is eventually going to cause many of them to quit. Our nursing system is already grappling with an aging workforce and an aging general population. While the nation will need an increased number of RNs, we’re likely hurtling toward a nursing shortage. Stress leads to mistakes and errors, and hospital errors are already the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Put it all together, and we may be headed for a national healthcare crisis.

This is a report you will not want to miss. Download the full PDF report below and click through the SlideShare presentation, and share your own experiences with stress as an RN in the Reply section below. I want to hear from you!

Download the Report

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Source: nurse.com

Topics: survey, nurse, stress

REAL advice on stress relief for nurses

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Mon, Mar 24, 2014 @ 02:25 PM

BY 

 

Stress Relief 298x185We all have moments in which the stress of our jobs threatens to make our heads spin around 360 degrees. Moments like that are fine, but if there’s a trend toward constant head-spinning, then you, my friend, need an intervention. 

Tip One: Make sure your personal space is as stress-free as possible.
When you come home at night or in the morning, are you faced with stacks of dishes in the sink and cat hair everywhere? You need to start taking care of that stuff on your days off. Your home is a haven. Even with roommates or kids, you can have one space that’s inviolable and neat and clean. That one thing will make such a difference in your mental health, it’s amazing.

Tip Two: Treat your body well.
Fast food is good once in a while, but for tip-top functioning, you really need to pay attention to how you feed your body. Good, clean food will help your body and brain work well and will lessen your stress levels immensely. Batch-cooking things you can stand to eat during and after your shifts will make you so much happier than a burger from Big Bob’s Burger Barn.

Tip Three: Simplify.
I have six of the exact same uniform, four bras that I know fit perfectly and eight pairs of socks that are identical. I have a zippered makeup bag that I got for a buck at Target that holds all my work stuff, from pens to stethoscope to ID. I have set jewelry to wear to work, and a set time in the morning by which certain things have to be accomplished. This makes my life so much easier, I can’t even tell you.

Integral to this plan is a coffeemaker with a timer. If you don’t own one, go get one.

Tip Four: Know which stress relievers are good in the long run.
I’m a big fan of carefully applied general anesthetic in the form of ETOH (as my mother says), but not after every shift. A glass of wine or other Adult Beverage of your choice can be helpful when you’re too wound up to sleep or if your brain simply won’t shut up…but don’t make a habit of it. Exercise is better (and I’ve never found that getting good and sweaty an hour before bed will make me insomniac), venting to a friend is good (especially if she’s not also a nurse), playing catch with your pup or the neighbor’s kids can work. Know what’s healthy (movement, talk, art, music) and what’s not (alcohol, too much food, drugs), and plan accordingly.

Tip Five: Get a massage. Seriously.
Touch is amazing for making you feel better. Find yourself a good massage therapist and get the two-hour rubdown. Don’t plan anything at all for the rest of the day. You’d be amazed at how small niggling problems and constant stressors seem when you can barely walk to the car. If you can afford it, do it once or twice a month: It’ll give you something to look forward to, and you’ll feel amazing for at least a day or so.

Source: Scrubs Mag 

Topics: wellness, relaxation, work vs home, relief, stress

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