Stress Management Techniques For Nurses

GettyImages-478921850It's no secret Nursing is a stressful and physically demanding career. High stress levels can affect your health and well-being. However, there are ways to manage your stress. Consider some of these techniques.

Identify and keep track of specific stressors. It is important to determine what triggers are causing stress so you can take action. 

Try keeping a journal, or note times when you don't feel your best and jot down what might be contributing to that feeling. For example, if you're running low on energy it could be from lack of proper sleep or nutritional foods in your diet. 

Take a deep breath. Practicing deep breathing exercises can be an effective way to reduce stress and anxiety. It can also improve lung function, blood pressure, and sleep. 

Some breathing techniques developed to reduce stress include:

  • 4-7-8 technique: Breathe in for four seconds with the nose, hold for seven, and breathe out for eight through the mouth.
  • Belly breathing: Place one hand on the belly and one on the chest, feeling the belly move and the chest remain still while breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth.
  • Breath focus: Use a picture or phrase to aid in relaxation, such as picturing the air as calmness.
  • Equal time: Count the breaths in equal time, such as five seconds, for inhaling and exhaling.
  • Modified lion’s breath: Breathe in through the nose, and out through a wide open mouth with a “ha” sound.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation: Tense and relax muscle groups in succession while breathing in and out.

Calm the mind. Mediation goes hand in hand with deep breathing. One of the biggest barriers to meditation is that people don’t know where to begin. Start with small goals like 2 minutes every day for a week, then increase your time slowly from there. 

Find a quiet space, get comfortable, then set your timer. Focus on your breathing or chosen mantra. A mantra is a word, phrase, or sound repeated it in your mind continuously. 

Thoughts will float in and out of your mind. Acknowledge them then let them go. The goal of meditation is to keep your focus on one thing. 

If you have trouble practicing on your own, there are many guided mediation apps and online videos to help. 

Recharge your batteries. As you know, lack of sleep is a major stress factor. To achieve better sleep, try the deep breathing and meditation exercises mentioned above, right before bed, as well as these suggestions:

  • Don't consume caffeine, alcohol, or food for at least 3 hours before bedtime.
  • Establish a consistent sleep schedule/routine.
  • Avoid electronics for at least 1 hour before bedtime.
  • Try rubbing lavender essential oils on your temples or pillowcases. 

Get your blood pumping. Almost any form of exercise or movement can increase your fitness level while decreasing your stress. The most important thing is to pick an activity that you enjoy. Exercise boosts your endorphins and helps release physical tension.

Enjoy A New Hobby. Hobbies are a great way to relieve stress because it shifts your focus on to something that makes you happy. It doesn't have to be time consuming. It could be watching a funny movie/tv series, reading a book, or knitting. 

Seek Help. If the stress is becoming too much for you to handle on you own, it's okay to seek advice or counsel from a loved one or a trusted mental health professional.

Because you are a Nurse, you often care for others without stopping to care for yourself. This ideology needs to change. It's extremely difficult to provide quality care for others when your own mental health is suffering. Be sure to take care of YOU too!

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