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Stress Management for Nurses

By Piers Cross

There are huge amounts of stress in nursing but what can nurses do about this? The following stress management for nurses article goes into some depth to explain some stress relief techniques.

Please note that these techniques can be applied for the reduction of stress at work in any other field.

There are many techniques and tips when it comes to stress management for nurses. The trick, as always, is to actually implement these into your work life.

I have found the best way of integrating things into a work practice is getting a routine going and through trial and error.

By getting a routine going you carry on doing something beneficial even when you don't feel like it. It's a habit, you do it anyway. The reality is, is that when you don't feel like it, this is usually the time when you need the technique the most!

Through trying out different techniques through trial and error, you learn first hand what works for you and what doesn't.

Stress Management for Nurses

I spent six months working for the National Health Service (NHS) in a hospital in the UK. I wasn't a nurse but an administrator. But I did learn many things which are helpful in stress management for nurses. I had to work quite closely with the nurses and doctors and saw the conditions they were put under.

The following techniques are ones I would recommend not only for nursing but also for any other stressful job:

  1. Exercise

    Nursing and being a doctor require huge levels of energy. You need to be on your feet a lot of the day in certain departments and the workload can be huge.

    By keeping fit you put your body in a better position to cope with the physical and emotional strains which are placed on your body.

  2. Healthy Eating

    Doctors and nurses know all about how good nutrition means good health but oftentimes there isn't time to eat. Or you're just too tired to eat properly when you get home.

    Tips I would suggest:

    Eat a really healthy breakfast: porridge with fruit, nuts and dried fruit is wonderful sustenance and will keep you going even if you miss lunch.

    Eat plenty of high energy food: carbohydrates like brown rice, pasta, potatoes are wonderful for sustaining energy levels, protein (chicken, white meat, pulses is another energy boost), fruit (especially bananas as they are good for energy) and nuts (a great source of energy).

  3. Visualizations

    I have found the following techniques to be very powerful and I use them regularly in meetings and business situations.

    There are several different ways you can use visualizations to reduce stress:

    Imagine yourself to be surrounded by white light at all times of the day, especially if you're in a really stressful situation.

    When you start to get really stressed, breathe deeply and imagine roots coming out of the bottom of your feet and grounding you.

    Release the tension into the ground.

    Visualize mirrors around you. Don't allow the stress and sickness into you. Reflect it back out.

  4. Loving Kindness (Tonglen)

    This technique is completely different to the above techniques but it is important to see which ones work for you.

    There is a wonderful Tibetan Buddhist teacher called Pema Chodron. She teaches a technique called Tonglen. The idea is that you breathe in others pain and breathe out love and compassion.

    This technique was used by many Tibetan monks during their persecution by the Chinese. This is a testimony to how well it works!

    1. You are confronted with a difficult situation or person; they are angry, stressed or anxious.
    2. You consciously breathe in their darkness or their pain.
    3. You then breathe out a white light, love, compassion, joy, equanimity.
    4. You then breathe in the pain and darkness of everyone in the world
    5. You breathe out healing and light to all beings.

    It really is very simple and you will find your heart opening in joy and love rather than closing down in fear and pain. Try it now and see how well it works. Think of someone in pain and do it for them.

  5. Affirmations

    To repeat affirmations in very stressful situations is very helpful. If your mind is ranting about how difficult it is, it will become that.

    Challenge your thoughts with positive words.

    "I am coping",

    "This too will pass",

    "I am a wonderful being",

    "I am doing wonderfully well",

    "I am enough".

May you be well and take care, look after yourself first and then your cup will overflow.

Piers Cross is the Director of Stress Relief Choices, a company which specializes in delivering stress relief to both individuals and companies. The website looks at stress management from his personal perspective of working for Fortune 500 companies to then living in a Buddhist monastery. This site offers access to relevant stress management information resources, articles, how to guides and videos:

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