While a small amount of stress can help you stay alert and active during your shift, chronically experiencing it can do your body more harm than good. Too much stress can make you feel tensed, depressed and even burnt out with your job.
In case you’re wondering how you can reverse these negative feelings, you can try these five relaxation tips you, as a nurse, can easily do post duty.
One of the easiest and most affordable ways to de-stress is to get a good sleep after your shift. In fact, it may be exactly just what you need to recharge yourself.
If you’re going off of a night shift, consider wearing glasses on your way home in the morning to avoid any adverse effects on your circadian clock. Once you’re home, try mimicking your bedtime routines, such as taking a quick shower (a warm bath also helps), brushing your teeth and wearing your sleepwear. These activities trick your brain into thinking it’s your bedtime.
Whether it’s a simple walk to the park or a good trip to the gym, fueling your body with adrenaline and rushing blood can help you feel less stressed. As a matter of fact, even five minutes of aerobic exercise can make you less anxious.
Experts suggest that exercising and physical activity trigger the release of endorphins, a neurochemical that acts as a natural painkiller. It also can improve the overall quality of your sleep.
“I don’t have a very active lifestyle. However, I always make it a point to walk my dog to the park whenever I go out from a morning or an afternoon shift. It makes me feel calmer and less stressed out,” an ER nurse shared.
3. Find a hobby
Most of us know how great art therapy can work on stressed children. Apparently, the same principles behind the de-stressing benefits of colors and drawing work on adults, too.
If creating art is not for you, you can try cooking instead. There are a lot of quick and easy-to-do recipes that you can find both online and offline. Aside from stress relief, cooking and preparing your meals can also help make sure you won’t resort to eating junk foods.
4. Get a massage
Massages offer tons of benefits. Aside from addressing stress, getting a good massage can also improve your immune and circulatory systems. It can also soothe your tired and achy muscles.
Several studies have shown that massages can decrease depression and anxiety by lowering the level of cortisol in a human body. Cortisol is the hormone involved in the ‘fight or flight’ response we experience whenever we face a stressful situation.
There are various types of massages. The most common of these massage styles is the Swedish massage which involves kneading and strokes to relieve muscle tension. If going for a full body massage is not an option, you can resort to a 10 to 15-minute chair massage. It requires less time but comes with almost the same benefits.
5. Indulge in aromatherapy
Aromatherapy has long been established to be effective in lowering stress and in improving stress response.
You can light up a few scented candles before you shower or take a nice and warm dip in your bath tub. You can even use it with a diffuser to fill your room or simply take a whiff from the bottle whenever you’re feeling out of focused.
“My favorite scent is chamomile. I always have a few drops of it on my handkerchief whenever I’m on duty. It just makes me feel less agitated particularly when it’s very busy on the floor,” a 5-year ward nurse said.
How do you handle stress? Do you have a post duty routine to recharge yourself?