Stress Management

Nursing is a stressful job. The responsibility for people's lives is enough to drive anyone who is not taking care of herself crazy. Managing your stress is vital to your own health and sanity. Nurses are very good at teaching others how to handle stress and illness, but are often terrible at taking care of themselves. Nurses are also very hard on themselves. Most nurses are over-achievers and never slow down. Nurses, especially those working in intensive care units and emergency rooms, get into a very bad habit of thriving on the adrenalin rush that accompanies an urgent situation. This habit can be carried over into the nurses' personal lives where they seem not to be able to function unless everything is whirring at a wild pace.

Stress can cause headaches and lead to migraines, backaches, and digestive problems such as constipation and diarrhea. Stress causes ulcers and can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Stress will exacerbate any underlying disease you might have such as diabetes or hypertension.

In the course of having to take control of situations all day long at work, nurses often turn into “control freaks” who want to have the last say in everything. The truth is that no one can be in charge of every situation, and the trick is to figure out how to not stress over everything that you cannot control. You need to learn to act and not to react to situations. The first step is to accept that you are not in control of every situation. Some situations you can contribute to and others you will just have to leave up to others to control.

When your life is always running full-speed ahead, it can be difficult to ascertain what is significant and what isn't — everything seems to be dramatic. Slow down, and let life come into perspective. Take control of your life, and manage your stress. Sleep, nutrition, and exercise are key elements to controlling your stress. You need to balance them in your life. And you need to learn to relax. You should take some time each day to unwind. Your body needs to rest and recover. Set aside time and make it a priority in your life to just shut down for a few minutes. Close your eyes and transcend to your secret place for ten minutes.

Is this problem that you're obsessing over something that you won't even remember tomorrow or next week? Or is it something that will impact your life until you fix it? You need to remember not to sweat the insignificant things. Take a deep breath and consider whether this is a big enough issue to worry about. If not, let go of it. If it is a significant issue, then calming down will help you find appropriate solutions.

Relaxation may not come naturally to you especially if you're on a constant adrenalin high. Start with deep breathing. Sit in a comfortable position. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Do this slowly and rhythmically. Close your eyes and imagine you are in your favorite place all warm and snug and secure. Tense your whole body, and as you continue breathing, slowly relax your toes, then your lower legs, then your lower torso, then your upper torso, then your neck, and finally your facial muscles, and your entire head. Continue breathing slowly. If you aren't completely relaxed, repeat the tensing and releasing. You can isolate areas such as your shoulders, neck, and head to relax if you need to.

Devote ten to fifteen minutes to this every day, and you will begin to see results within a week or two, if not immediately. Some people do this while they wait for dinner to cook, and others do these relaxation exercises to fall asleep at night. There are many programs for stress management. You may need to experiment to find something that works well for you, but you must control the stress. It will help you to do a better job, avoid burnout, and promote your own wellness.

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