You’re familiar with the physical sensations of stress: your heart starts pounding, and your breathing quickens. Maybe your chest gets tight, and your palms get sweaty.
In the short term, stress can be helpful, giving us the extra energy and focus we need to meet a deadline or deal with a difficult situation. However, chronic stress can take a toll on our physical and mental health, contributing to problems such as anxiety, depression, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Taking steps to reduce your stress levels can improve your overall health and help you lead a happier, healthier life.
How Do You Reduce Stress as a Nurse?
While the below strategies can be helpful for anyone interested in more effectively managing stress, they can be of particular use if you are a Registered Nurse returning to school for your BSN. Going back to school for your BSN can be a great way to advance your career, whether that means applying for a promotion with your current employer or changing jobs altogether. But it can be a real challenge to maintain a healthy work/life/school balance if you’re taking classes, working a full-time job, and juggling personal responsibilities. Below are 9 tips to help reduce the negative impacts that come from stress.
1. Find Times to Do Things for Yourself
One of the most important things you can do to manage stress is to find time for yourself. Dedicate some time each day to do something you enjoy without worrying about work or other obligations. You can read, take a walk in nature, listen to music, or spend time with friends or family. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as it’s something that makes you feel relaxed and happy. Taking some time for yourself each day will help reduce your overall stress levels and make it easier to cope with stressful situations when they arise.
2. Eat Healthily
Nutrition plays a key role in regulating our mood and energy levels, and certain foods have been shown to help your body better cope with stress. Foods rich in vitamins and minerals help fortify and strengthen your immune system, and omega-3 fatty acids – found in fish, nuts, and seeds – can help to reduce anxiety. Foods rich in magnesium – such as dark leafy greens, beans, and whole grains – can help to relax the body and ease tension, while foods like dark chocolate and green tea contain compounds that have been shown to improve mood. By including these stress-busting foods in your diet, you can give your body the support it needs to stay calm and relaxed.
3. Stay Hydrated
From headaches and fatigue to difficulty concentrating and trouble sleeping, stress can have negative impacts on your life. Another important thing you can do to alleviate your stress level is to stay hydrated. When you are feeling stressed, your body releases hormones that can cause you to feel thirsty. If you don’t drink enough water, you may start to feel lightheaded and dizzy. Water also helps flush out toxins from your body, making you feel refreshed and energized. So next time you’re feeling frazzled, make sure to reach for a glass of water.
Meditation is a practice that involves focusing your attention and clearing your mind of extraneous thoughts. It can be done anywhere and only requires a few minutes of your time. While learning to meditate effectively may take some time, the rewards can be significant. Research has shown that meditation can help to reduce stress levels, improve sleep, and increase focus and concentration. Taking a few minutes out of your day to focus on your breath and relax your body can help reduce stress, improve your mood, and increase your overall sense of well-being.
5. Try to Get Enough Sleep
While there are many ways to reduce stress, one of the most important is getting enough sleep. When we are tired, our bodies are more susceptible to stress hormones, which can lead to various problems, including anxiety, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. In addition, sleep deprivation can weaken the immune system, making it harder to fight off infection. To help reduce stress levels, aiming for seven to eight hours of sleep each night is essential. Establish a regular sleep schedule and create a calm environment in your bedroom. Consider an evening routine that will act as a signal to your body to start to unwind. Avoid using screens and eating for at least an hour before bedtime. Healthy sleep hygiene is vital to managing stress.
6. Spend Time with your Friends/Family
Spending time with loved ones can help you feel more connected and supported, which can help to reduce stress levels. When you’re around the people you love, you can relax and forget about your troubles. Spending time with loved ones can also help you gain perspective on your problems and make them seem more manageable. In addition, laughter is one of the best ways to reduce stress, and nothing makes us laugh more than our friends and family. Whether enjoying a quiet dinner together or playing a fun game, spending time with those you love is a great way to reduce stress. So next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, be sure to reach out to your friends and family. You’ll be glad you did.
7. Find Someone You Can Talk To
Talking to someone can be an extremely effective stress reducer. When we keep our feelings bottled up, they tend to fester and grow. However, when we share them with someone else, we often find that they are more manageable than we thought. An unbiased, impartial third party can help us to see our situation in a new light. Simply having the chance to vent can be a huge relief. Whether we turn to a friend, family member, or professional therapist, finding someone we can talk to is vital to managing stress.
8. Limit Your Time on Social Media
Social media has become integral to many people’s lives, providing a way to stay connected with friends and family, share news and experiences, and express ourselves. However, too much time on social media can lead to increased stress levels. People who spend more time on social media are more likely to report feeling higher levels of stress than those who use social media for less time. The more time people spend on social media, the more likely they are to compare themselves unfavorably to others, which can lead to feelings of envy and resentment. It’s also easy to lose track of time while mindlessly scrolling through your feed, wasting time in your already busy schedule. Limit your social media time, and avoid using it late at night for better sleep.
9. Stay Positive
According to the Mayo Clinic, “optimism is a key part of effective stress management.” Positive thinking often starts with positive self-talk – the endless stream of thought constantly running through your head. Pay attention to the way you talk to yourself and get in the habit of reframing negative thoughts. Surround yourself with positive people, and try to find humor in difficult situations. Laughter is one of the best ways to reduce stress. Positivity is a habit, and like all habits, it takes practice. Take the time to be mindful of your attitude, and for the sake of your stress levels, try to look on the bright side of life.
Stress Management for Nurses
For many nurses, going back to school can be a stressful experience. Balancing work, and family, is a real challenge, and it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. Thankfully, the above tips are some things that you can do to manage your stress and make the most of your educational experience.
By utilizing the stress management tips outlined, you should be able to avoid burnout as you advance your education and training. If you’re ready to rise to the challenge, Siena Heights University has an RN-BSN program relevant to today’s healthcare professionals. Our program is offered 100 percent online, making it easier for you to manage the additional demands on your time. And with our supportive faculty and staff there for you, you’ll be set up for success. Contact SHU today to continue your nursing journey.