Stress is a buzz word these days – it’s the contagion we’re all trying to avoid that even an N95 won’t protect us from. It’s not that stress is any more or less for us nurses, it’s just…different. It’s pervasive in our profession. We experience it on the job, the night before, trying to sleep the day after a nightshift, or when we can’t shake the work dreams. But that doesn’t mean we just have to live with it. Expert strategies exist to enable us to detach, chill out, sleep, and feel refreshed for whatever the next shift brings.
We’re constantly on the move on-shift and the key is to maintain the momentum (at a different pace) off-shift. Find time pre or post-shift or on your break. Despite being on our feet all day, nothing beats deliberate movement. Sometimes when you’re feeling dogged tired and the last thing you want to move, it’s just what you need. Pick an initial movement or activity that takes some effort and mental commitment that will get you moving quickly – it’s all downhill from there. Also recognize when the movement needs to be more low-key, it’s entirely up to you but you definitely won’t regret committing to the movement. Plus, if you haven’t already, check out our friends, MoveWith.
Take your meds
Vitamins, minerals, probiotics, enzymes. We spend so much time dedicated to the research, understanding, and administration of our patients’ meds – have you given much thought to your own? Our individual lifestyles and diets leave us with unique needs and deficiencies. Our fave? Care/of. Not sure which you need? Their survey to help determine your needs is super fun and they have a library chock full of information. Oh, AND you can get 25% with code TRUSTEDNURSE.
Fun fact: One particularly interesting study from 2017 showed a 44% reduction in stress levels after taking Ashwagandha, as opposed to just a 5.5% decrease in the group taking a placebo. A randomized 2012 clinical trial showed similarly impressive levels of stress reduction after just 60 days.
Eat healthy AND healthily
As if you haven’t heard this time and time again. But #nurselife can make that hard. Donuts and pizza in the breakroom. Chocolate and candies at the nursing station. Having 5 minutes to scarf down your breakfast and relying on that third cup of coffee to get you through the 3:00(am/pm) hour. It’s not just about what you eat, it’s also about how you eat it.
- Make and pack your own food.
- Stay out of the kitchen when you get home.
- Swap at least one cup of coffee for herbal tea.
- The goodies that the nice families bring? Make it a treat, rather than a habit.
Okay, maybe that can really only happen during the 3 minutes you spend in the bathroom or while you’re waiting at the Pyxis wondering where the heck your second nurse is for a witness. But in a day’s entirety, it’s important to find silence among the chaos and beeping. Seek it out and deliberately indulge in it. Many hospitals have meditation rooms or take a quick walk outside to get just far enough where you’re alone. Sometimes you don’t realize how loud or busy your day is until you hit the mute button.
Create a ritual
Whether it’s packing the same food for every shift, wearing the same pair of socks and undershirt, reserving your favorite caffeinated drink for workdays, having a favorite hand lotion, washing your face mid-shift. Whatever it is, find it and stick to it. No matter how crazy the day gets or how unpredictably it plays out, stay grounded in your ‘thing.’