Managing Your Stress

Nursing is a stressful profession, and managing stress is essential. There are a number of formal stress relief measures such as meditation, imagery, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques to help you de-stress. These all work well and should be incorporated into your daily routine.

Other activities that will help you de-stress are exercise and diversionary activities such as reading, watching TV, listening to music, going to the gym, walking, and sewing and other needlecrafts.

You can develop your own feel-good program either formally or informally, but you need to make sure that you use every opportunity possible to reduce stress in your life. Sometimes that can be best accomplished by eliminating activities that overextend you. You must take care not to try to do too many things at one time. You also need to realize that when other factors aren't causing you stress, perhaps you actually can do many more things, but this will not always be the norm.

  • Listen to a book on your MP3 or CD player in your car (or on the bus or train) on your way to and from work.

  • Use imagery as you walk out the door of your facility to close it and leave your entire set of job-related issues inside.

  • Stop at the gym on the way home. Imagine your stressful issues as underneath your feet on the treadmill or take some of your stress out on a punching bag. Swim a few laps and force your mind to focus on nothing.

  • Take a longer route home; listen to music, and sing along loudly (but don't lose your concentration on the road). Unwind before you meet the stressors at home.

  • Take a hot shower or bath when you first get home. Cleanse your mind and your soul. Let your stress swirl away down the drain.

  • Join a club or group activity to explore a similar interest such as scrap-booking or creative writing. Play on an adults' sports team. Take those tennis lessons or piano lessons you gave up years ago. Address your spiritual needs.

    Find support systems. The knowledge that you are not alone in your feelings needs to be reinforced from time to time. You need feedback to help ensure that you are well centered. Coworkers and friends from school are often excellent choices for some of your support systems because they share common issues. You can vent, and they will have the best understanding of what you are going through. Naturally, you need to be able to trust them. Family and friends are great support systems as well. Support systems will help to recharge your emotional and spiritual energy.

    Don't forget that laughter can be the best medicine. It releases tension and heals your heart. If you can laugh at life's little challenges, you will understand that some things are just not as serious as they can seem. It might not have been a laughing matter at the time it happened, but several hours later, if you can see the humor in the most embarrassing incident, then you can let go of the stress and move on.

    As a caregiver, you will constantly need to replenish your energy to continue to give. When you feel as if you have no more to give, that should be your clue that it's time to recharge your batteries. You do that by reducing your stress.

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