With World Mental Health day being 10th October, we want to make sure that all of our amazing nurses across the UK and even the globe, know that they will always be supported as they do one of the most important and rewarding jobs.
The high level of constant pressure can make it hard for nurses to unwind and leave them feeling stressed. It is important to take some time for yourself and keep your wellbeing in check. We have devised a guide on stress management for nurses to ensure that you look after your mental health just as much as your physical health.
A Guide On Stress Management For Nurses
Having years of experience as being one of the leading medical recruitment agencies based in Milton Keynes, we know that your mental health is of critical importance. Nursing agency jobs can be extremely fulfilling and rewarding, but we sometimes find that nurses spend so much time caring for others, that they forget about themselves.
It is extremely important to keep on top of your mental health, regardless of how hectic your schedule may be. Taking just a few moments out of your day to fully focus on yourself, can have a big impact on your wellbeing. Continue reading for tips on how you can maintain and improve your mental health in a stressful environment.
Healthy Body, Healthy Mind
Stress can easily affect your body as it triggers biological responses such as releasing stress hormones, increasing blood pressure and heartbeat. Not only does this have an effect on your physical wellbeing, but it can also have a big impact on your mental health. Rapid heartbeats and increased blood pressure can make you exhausted and can increase your feeling of anxiety. Although it can be hard to reduce the level of stress that nurses endure at work, maintaining a balanced diet and eating certain foods, can reduce the levels of stress that your body feels.
Nursing is not a 9-5 office job and requires individuals to work hours that disrupt their eating patterns. A lot of nurses find themselves eating quick meals when they come home and consuming comfort foods to get them through the day. Not only is this bad for your physical health, but it can also be detrimental to your mental health. It is important to make sure that you eat the correct foods so that you can support not only your patients, but also yourself. To deal with stress, our bodies increase sugar levels, so consuming foods with high sugar contents can make your heart beat faster and cause more ‘panic attack’ symptoms.
Although you may think that caffeine wakes you up, it can actually cause more stress on your body and therefore, on your mental health. Try consuming a rainbow! Eating a minimum of five vegetables per day and sticking to foods that naturally have high levels of protein such as nuts or spinach, will drastically increase your energy. Eating well will ensure that the smile on the outside, represents what is on the inside.
Breath In, Breath Out
Sometimes a big deep breath is not quite enough to relieve the feelings of stress. It is important that you take some time for yourself to focus on your wellbeing, and meditation is a great way to concentrate on your breathing and control your feelings of stress.
Before you begin meditating, practice the art of breathing. Although you breathe without thinking about it, there are certain techniques that you can follow to make sure that your breathing relieves your stress and calms you down. Try the following technique:
- Start by placing one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. The hand on your stomach should be moving up and down, while the one your chest remains still.
- To inhale from your abdomen, inhale deeply and then make sure that you completely exhale. This way, your lungs can fill with fresh oxygen and release toxins as you exhale.
- Practice whenever you can, especially while laying on your back as your body is able to relax fully. Ensuring that you are breathing correctly can make you feel relaxed and relieve stress when you are under pressure. For those that struggle to sleep, it is also a great way to calm your body, mind and soul, for a well-needed rest.
Mediate It All Away
After you have practised your breathing technique, you can use it while meditating to have a moment of tranquillity after a stressful day. Meditation is a great way to maintain your wellbeing and ensure that your mental health is kept stable. Through meditation, you are able to focus your attention on your breathing and eliminate factors causing your stress. It has been scientifically proven that around five twenty-minute sessions on meditation lead’s to improvements in anxiety, depression and stress. NHS research on mediation and the effectiveness of peaceful breathing is a great example of how successful self-care can be. Read more on the NHS Services acknowledging this study as a well-conducted research project that showed outstanding results here.
There are a variety of different types of meditation that you can choose from, where the methods vary slightly. Each of these methods are useful when dealing with stressful situations. Make sure to take time out of your week to engage in self-care and spend 20 minutes conducting one of the following methods:
- Loving-Kindness Meditation – The goal of this meditation is to cultivate an attitude of love and kindness even towards the source of stress. The key here is to create a message of love and kindness and repeat it while you breathe deeply.
- Mindfulness Meditation – This form of meditation encourages you to remain aware and present. The reason for this is to inspire you to think about the present, not dread the future or dwell on the past. Mindful meditation can be done anywhere, so makes it perfect for quick mediation in stressful moments.
- Breath Awareness Meditation – Incorporate your breathing technique and count or focus on your breathe. This form of meditation offers the same benefits as mindfulness.
- Zen Meditation – originating from Buddhist practices, this form of meditation is best performed under a teacher as it involves specific techniques. While using Zen meditation, you are encouraged to find a comfortable position and observe your thoughts
- Transcendental Meditation – a spiritual form of meditation where you are encouraged to rise above your current state being
After spending all day treating patients, it is now time to treat yourself. Relaxing at every opportunity that you can, will make sure that your mind and soul have been fully calmed ready for your next shift. Relaxation comes in a variety of different forms, and it is achieved through different methods for everyone. Finding what relaxes you the most and making sure that you take time to do it after every shift, will help you to reduce your stress. For some people, it may be as simple as having a cup of tea while relaxing in the bath with the lights off.
Why not book in a few treats once a week or once every other week so you can look forward to ultimate relaxation. For example, book in a spa day or a massage, so that you can relieve tension and take some time for yourself. When you feel mentally stressed, you may find that your body also feels stressed. Having a massage or simply just laying on your back on a comfortable flat surface can help to reduce stress on your body.
Connecting with nature is also a great way to relax on a day off, as you can breathe in the fresh air and listen to the sound of nature. The sound of water relaxes your mind while the air makes you feel fresh. We would suggest taking a step outside and going for a walk, find a calm and tranquil spot, sit down and close your eyes. Listen to the sounds of nature and take deep breaths, try to think about the sounds around you rather than the stress you have endured.
The Power Of Your Voice
It is a nurses job to care for those that need it the most, but they sometimes forget that they too need to be cared for. Keeping thoughts, experiences and emotions in, is common amongst nurses. However, it can be one of the worst things to do when suffering from stress as it can lead to further feels of anxiety and even depression. Your voice is important, and it should be heard, so do not be afraid to talk to someone you love about emotions and feelings of stress.
When it comes to techniques for dealing with stress, one of the most effective methods is simply to talk to someone about your day. Letting a family member or close friend know about your stress will allow you to talk through your emotions and resolve them. It will also help you to feel as though you have someone there that will always support you. If you are uncomfortable talking to a loved one about your feelings of stress, there are fantastic counselling facilities for nurses to talk to a professional about their stress or anxiety.
Mental Health Awareness Day
The reason that we have a world mental health awareness day, is to educate those that have mental health problems as well as those that do not. It is a day where we try to encourage those with mental health issues to talk about their concerns and feelings, as well as inform others of techniques to help loved ones through hard times. Take the 10th October as an opportunity to give yourself some self-love and find some time to cook yourself a nutritional meal, meditate or talk to a friend.
For more information about mental health awareness day and tips for dealing with the mental illness every day and especially at work, take a look Mind For Better Mental Health’s blog.
Stress Free Me
By taking just a few moments out of your day, you can destress your body both mentally and physically. It is important that you take care of yourself so that you can take care of others. If you have any feelings of stress or any other mental health problems such as anxiety or depression, please speak to a Locum nurse as soon as possible.