We all have work stressors.
Maybe its an obnoxious colleague who just does not know when to stop talking.
Maybe it’s a challenging boss.
Maybe it’s the nature of your work.
Maybe it’s a customer or a patient that makes things difficult.
Maybe you are up against a deadline.
Maybe you’re a nurse like me and you have the stress of death and dying and emergencies, and unpredictable days that have you running around like a psycho while your patient is circling the drain.
Bottom line – stress affects us all, and work stress can be extremely challenging to deal with.
In my years of prioritizing my hormonal health, I have come up with a few activities that help mitigate the effects of work-related stress. Being a nurse, my workday may look very different from many of y’alls. But maybe it will be valuable to you to see how I combat stress in the work place.
Quick Guide To Mitigating The Effects Of Stress While At Work
GO FOR A WALK
I am very lucky to get 3 breaks at work. On my first break, almost every single day I am working, I go outside for a 30 minute walk. I put on a guided meditation or some Tibetan singing bowls, or nature sounds, and I get outside for movement, fresh air, and sunlight.
In the ICU, there are monitors alarming and pumps going off and millions of sounds and alerts all day every day. It is very distressing. I have trained myself, sort of like a Pavlov dog lol, to pause and take a deep belly breath every time I hear an alarm go off. Not only does it bring me out of the fight or flight (sympathetic nervous system) and back into rest and digest (parasympathetic nervous system), but it’s a burst of oxygen to my brain to help with energy and alertness, AND it’s a moment to center my thoughts so I can respond to the alarm.
Staying hydrated is kind of not a thing when you’re a nurse lol. In the first year of my nursing career, I’m pretty sure I was always having an acute kidney injury because I never freaking peed while I was at work. 12 hours is a LONG time to pee only once. Now, I prioritize my hydration every single shift. Before I even begin my first assessment, I drink 32 ounces of water. And for the rest of the shift, I drink 64 more ounces. Hydration keeps you mentally alert, nourishes all of your cells (remember humans are >70% water!), and it keeps your kidneys and adrenals nourished which are pivotal in the body’s stress response.
DITCH THE DONUTS
How many times have we walked into the breakroom and there’s a big ass box of donuts or bagels on the counter?? All nurses everywhere will work for food, so we are constantly being inundated with a barrage of gluten-y, baked, sugary treats all the time from patients and family members. And management just loves to order us pizza as like a “thank you” for our hard work, probably because it’s easy and who doesn’t love pizza? But the more junk you consume, the more your blood sugar is going to be out of whack, and the body perceives this as a stressor. Just say no to the donuts. Arm yourself with healthy snacks to combat sugar cravings and keep yourself full.
All of my colleagues know that I am never without my doTERRA essential oils. Every morning before work, I pick out one or two and tuck them in my scrub pockets to have on hand. Several times throughout my day, I will put a drop of essential oil in the palms of my hands, cup my face, and inhale deeply. Essential oils are wonderful for destressing and uplifting. My mood instantly elevates, and my brain appreciates the boost of oxygen coupled with lovely scents of nature. My favorites are lavender, cedarwood, wild orange and peppermint. Plus, my colleagues benefit from the beautiful oil scents!
I take my lunch outside every single day. Wind, sunshine, the smell of grass, getting out of the confines of the hospital with all the recycled air and radiation … it always restores me. Plus I always give myself some time to decompress the day, digest my food, and simply sit and just be, and “just being” is such a wonderful thing to do when you’re outside. If you live in a place where getting outside for lunch is a possibility, do it as often as you can! If its cold, bundle up!
STAY IN THE POSITIVE
I always try to find little milestones throughout the day to “keep my eyes on the prize” so to speak. For example, right before I go for my morning walk, I make myself a hot cup of herbal tea that I enjoy. Around 2pm, I make another cup. I get really excited about tea, obviously haha. When it’s 3pm, I think “yayyy 2/3 of the shift is done!”. It’s super basic and may not seem like a lot, but it definitely shifts my mindset and makes even the most horrible days bearable. Another trick that has helped me endure some very stressful and unenjoyable jobs, is on my walk from the parking lot into the building, I give thanks for having a job to go into. And I try to think of a few things that I’m thankful for at work. Some of my items are 1) colleagues 2) nice patients to take care of, 3) a paycheck at the end of the week.
Whatever the nature of your work is, I encourage you to acknowledge the various ways in which work brings you stress. Stress is inevitable, we know this. And this is why it’s so damn important to get a handle on it.
Build in some of these practices and see how you feel after a couple of weeks.
Are you happier going into work?
Are you sleeping better?
Are communications with colleagues and bosses easier?
Our happiness is our own responsibility. And getting a handle on your stress, I promise, will bring you SO much more happiness.
Which one of these are you going to implement today? Tell me in the comments!
Happy (less stressful) Work Day To You!!