5 Tips to Manage Stress for the busy Healthcare Professional
by Anja Grimes
Healthcare professionals are subject to high stress levels no matter what environment they work in. It is imperative for nurses, emergency medical technicians, therapists, and other clinicians to learn how to properly de-stress, disconnect from work, and bring some calmness into their lives. These 5 simple tips can help busy healthcare professionals stay healthy and calm for their patients—and themselves.
We all breathe all the time, but when was the last time you concentrated on a deep breath? Conscious, deep breathing for just a few seconds has a calming effect physically, mentally, and emotionally. Try this simple exercise any time you need a quick break:
- Sit quietly with one hand on your stomach, the other on your chest.
- Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose, filling your lungs.
- Hold your breath for a few seconds.
- Breathe out slowly through your mouth until all the air is out of your lungs.
- Repeat four more times.
By practicing slow, deep breathing, you’ll reduce your level of stress quickly and efficiently.
2) Take care of yourself. Take a walk.
Caregivers are prone to overextend themselves, putting others first. Just as airplane passengers are advised to put on their own oxygen mask in an emergency before helping others, we need to take care of ourselves first so we can be there for our patients. One easy way to do this is by getting outdoors and taking a short walk.
During my many years in the emergency department, and even now in my office job, I make it a priority to take a short walk outdoors each day. Even if I am only able to get out for a few minutes, the calming effects are tremendous.
Wild Iris Medical Education CEO Ann Johnson
3) Do something kind for others.
Could it be that the key to happiness is doing something kind for others? It might seem more rewarding to do something nice for you—buy that new pair of shoes, get a new haircut, or go on a weekend trip—but doing kind things for others has been shown to reward us with greater happiness.
In one study, researchers told a group of participants to practice "self-focusing" behavior (doing nice things for themselves), a second group to practice "prosocial" behavior (performing kind acts for others or that serve a greater good), and a third group to practice a neutral behavior. At the end of the six weeks, the people who practiced prosocial behavior showed "greater increases in psychological flourishing" than the other groups. [https://www.bustle.com/articles/156512-key-to-happiness-might-be-doing-kind-things-for-others-study-says-so-start-doing-nice]
We all know the saying “Laughter is the best medicine.” Studies show that laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving resistance to disease. Laughter also triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals, which promotes an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain. So get-together with a few friendly colleagues, enjoy each others’ company, and laugh.
5) Make your life a little healthier.
Last but not least, work on living healthier. Why not follow some of the good advice you give to your patients? Exercise more, eat more fruit and veggies, cut down on sugar, drink plenty of water, reduce your alcohol consumption, or quit smoking. Start small, and don’t beat yourself up for not being perfect. Little changes in our everyday routine, done consistently, will have lasting effects. And if you need some support, there are many programs to help. So make a commitment to healthier living, and you’ll start feeling less stressed right away.
Although these tips may sound like common sense, it can still be a challenge to incorporate them into your daily life and develop new good habits. Don’t give up. Try one of these simple tips to reduce stress, become a healthier person, and stay strong for your patients, family, and friends.
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To learn more about managing stress—and to earn 1.5 hours of professional CE, take our course Burnout: Coping with Job-Related Stress in Healthcare
Please leave a comment how you deal with stress!
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