5 ways to cope with stress at work

Stories - Mood MeterMeds to pass. IVs to hang. Patient care to deliver. Vitals to take. Charting to do. Meetings to attend…all in a nurse’s stressful day.

During these challenging times, some hospitals are hiring fewer nurses, so current staff work longer and harder, doing more with less, once again.

So how can a nurse stay upbeat in a stressful work environment? These 5 tips are easy, effective, and even fun!

1. Come to work healthy: Eat right. We know this and teach it, but often forget to consume the quantity and quality of food our bodies need. Exercise 15 minutes a day, every day. Sleep 8 hours a night (yes, most people can if they turn off technology!)

2. Breathe! Deep relaxation breathing releases not only stress and tension, but endorphins, our brain’s “feel good” medicine.

Did you know endorphins have the same molecular makeup as morphine? We have this “drug” on tap and forget to use it by doing rhythmic breathing.

So breathe in slowly to the count of four, then out to the count of four. Do this 3-4 minutes at a time, 3-4 times a day to “feel good.”

3. Think Positive! When we expect positive things, we act accordingly and then get positive things in return. When we expect failure, we usually fail. When we expect success, we tend to succeed. When we expect health, we make healthy choices.

When we expect illness, we are often sick. Our lives move in the direction of our most dominant thoughts. Ignore the grumblers and complainers.

Develop a positive attitude at work. (Here’s a great idea: Throw a party funded by money put into the laughter pot every time someone is caught being grumpy.!)

4. Laugh! Volumes are written today on the therapeutic benefits of laughter. It’s rhythmic and a great endorphin releaser too. Little kids laugh 400 times a day. One study showed grownups laugh only eleven, and yet another said only four!

Create a laughter bulletin board at work, for funny cartoons, old prom photos, good jokes. Laughter is good medicine…it’s free, with no side effects.

5. Say a prayer or meditate. Yes, even at work you can take a moment in the med room or bathroom to deep breathe, relax a minute and say a prayer or meditation phrase. Science proves that prayer and religious rituals relieve stress.

Praying 10 -20 minutes throughout the day decreases heart rate and blood pressure and helps us turn our worries over to a Higher Power.

It’s hard to stay positive in a stressful work environment when we are depleted physically, mentally and spiritually.

Post these tips on your bulletin board at work (next to the laughter board!) and engage your coworkers in creating a fun and positive workplace… no grumblers allowed.

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