Unwind and Leaving the Day Behind: Relaxation Techniques for Nurses

By CareerStaff Unlimited

September 28, 2021

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Leaving the Day Behind: Relaxation Techniques for Nurses

This article was provided by CareerStaff Unlimited.

By Karen Stockdale, MBA, BSN, RN

For most nurses, dealing with high levels of stress on a daily basis becomes the norm. The nature of the job lends itself to stressful situations – from dealing with life and death situations to interacting with people at some of the worst moments of their lives – over long, demanding hours. The rates of nursing burnout are very high, with similarly high rates of mental health problems like anxiety and depression.

Many nurses find themselves re-living the day’s work – mentally rechecking everything to make sure nothing was missed or secretly chastising themselves for not doing more. This mental game is called “ruminating” and can be very damaging. Ruminating prolongs and intensifies stress, leading to depression and impairing your ability to process events. If you find yourself ruminating on the day, step back and find an activity that requires your mental ability in a non-exhaustive way. Puzzle and word games, crafts, visiting friends, sports, or other hobbies can help “reset” your brain and get it out of the loop.

Nurses are often giving people by nature – they entered the profession to help others. This selfless attitude, while admirable, can cause a challenge when it comes to a positive nurse work-life balance. These are the qualities that make great nurses! However, it is also these qualities that make it hard for travel nurses to unwind after work.

As a nurse, how do you unwind, reset, and protect your private time? Let’s take a look at some techniques to reclaim your mental space and coax the stress away.

Five Ways to Unwind

1. Exercise.

Exercise releases feel-good endorphins and takes the tension away. And it doesn’t have to be physically exhausting. A walk, some yoga, some dancing, playing with a child or your dog – all of these are ways to move your body and release some stress. It also helps you sleep better!

2. Keep a Journal.

Focusing your thoughts on exactly how you are feeling can help you express yourself – and leave it on the page. Many find that gratitude journaling is a good technique for emphasizing the greatest things in life. Instead of focusing on stressful parts of the day, it might be helpful to express gratitude for the coworker that brought you lunch or the family member that hugged you. Journaling can help bring the joy back.

3. Spend time with family and friends.

When you don’t feel at your best, it is tempting to be a hermit and skip social events. Don’t do it!  Spending time with those you love is a natural stress reliever and gives you a feeling of belonging and connectedness. When nurses talk about work-life balance, this is one component that is crucial to well-being.

4. Laugh.

Sometimes it is hard to find the humor in a situation – but nurses are known for a wicked sense of humor!  A twisted sense of humor is a tried-and-true coping mechanism for healthcare workers. Caution – use your humor around people that “get it,” or it could be mistaken as in poor taste. Then laugh until it hurts!

5. Learn to Say NO.

As givers, nurses are sometimes not good at boundaries. This equates to extra shifts, staying late, and helping out coworkers and friends. This often leads to a lack of personal time and self-care and breeds resentment. While it is difficult, learning to say “no” in kind ways such as “I just have too much on my plate right now” or “Thank you for thinking of me, but I need to step away for a while” become easier with practice. Saying “no” gives you control over your stressors and eliminates that overwhelmed feeling.

CareerStaff Unlimited knows how important self-care is to busy nurses, and we support the work-life balance of each individual. Travel nursing opportunities allow nurses to select the assignment and the hours that are right for him/her while seeing new areas of the country and experiencing new cultures. Explore your options through CareerStaff by searching current travel job openings. Then relax and let us handle it!

We hope you found these tips for travel nurses to unwind. Do you have ways that you unwind after a long shift? Comment them below.

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