3 Ways to Not Lose Your Cool During a Shift

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Darrin Zeer

Darrin Zeer

Stress is a fact of life, and even more so for health care workers. Nurses are most concerned with the effects of stress and overwork on their overall well-being, according to an American Nurses Association survey. These concerns outweigh worries about contracting an infectious disease or being injured on the job.

And with good cause. Stress has been linked to depression, sleep problems, reduced job satisfaction and physical illness in nurses.

Work-related stress and nursing

April is National Stress Awareness Month, and it’s a good time to think about forming new habits that lessen the damaging effects of stress. We spoke with relaxation consultant Darrin Zeer, author of “Office Yoga.” Zeer is well-versed in helping people manage their stress at work.

“It’s more important than ever to implement an on-the-job self-care program every day,” says Zeer. “Yoga, breath awareness, meditation and mindfulness have become a necessity for our own well-being both at work and in our lives.”

Because nurses are so busy and barely have a chance to catch their breath, Zeer recommends yoga as a way to ease mental tension and relieve aches and pains.

“Yoga offers a powerful combination of breathing and stretching,” says Zeer. “Pranayama breathing immediately calms the mind and relaxes the body, and yoga stretching is the perfect antidote for body soreness.”

Stress relief for nurses

Here are some of Zeer’s suggestions for reducing stress while on the job:

Yogic Breath

  1. Take a long, slow, deep inhale. Breathe into your belly and into the chest, like filling a glass of water.
  2. Exhale slowly, like emptying a glass of water.
  3. Repeat several times.

“We are a culture of shallow breathers,” Zeer says. “With slow, full breaths, the parasympathetic nervous system begins.” Also called the “Relaxation Response,” this practice calms the mind and relaxes the body.

Tree Pose

Tree Pose

Tree Pose

  1. Kickstand one foot in front of your shin. For more challenge, raise your foot to the inside of your calf or thigh.
  2. Push palms together in a prayer position to help with balance.
  3. Stand tall and breathe, drawing your naval toward your spine for core strength.
  4. Repeat on with the other side.

The pose is good for balancing both your body and mind. Zeer says this may not seem like an easy pose to do amidst the chaos of work, but it works very well when you’re overwhelmed.

Energize Anytime

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
  2. Slowly swing arms from side to side. Your arms should be loose like wet spaghetti noodles.
  3. Gently twist into your hips as you swing from side to side.
  4. Next, swing your arms up into the air, and with a big exhale swing your arms toward the ground.
  5. If possible, make a grunting sound with the exhales to further release your tension.
  6. For a further challenge, lower your torso, head and arms down towards the ground. Make sure you bend your knees to protect your lower back.

This practice loosens up your whole body and gives you an instant energy boost.

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