As a nurse, I know intellectually that managing stress is a huge part of having a healthy, happy life. However, I have yet to figure out the secret formula. I, too often, get overwhelmed by stress and anxiety in my daily life. I can often tell patients, friends and family members what they need to do to help manage stress in their own lives. Unfortunately, it has been a life long struggle to manage my own. Part of this is that I am an anxious person by nature. I have suffered from anxiety since I was a kid and have not worked on changing my own mental thought processes until just recently. For me, managing stress in my life and work is tied directly to my health. Stress truly is a killer for me as it often brings on a flare of my disease. So managing it has become very important. Here are some tips that I have done. Maybe some of these will work for you as well. Please know that I still am a work in progress as we all are. If you have any other ways you manage your stress, please comment. I would love to hear from you!
Make Changes in your Workplace
I am a nurse, and a nurse educator. Both of these jobs can require long hours, long shifts and a high degree of stress due to the physical, emotional and mental demands. Though I truly loved working in the hospital and working with my patients, I had to stop. Working as a nurse is just hard right now. (See all the nurses marching on Capital Hill fighting for mandatory nurse to patient ratios?) So, I had to leave. Also, teaching was no different. However, I was able to find an adjunct teaching position where I was teaching online. I truly miss working in the classroom setting. However, I have found that working in the online environment really rewarding as well. I love my coworkers and I love the students I teach. Most importantly, I still have an impact on the career that I really love and still have time for my crafting and up-cycling.
You may not have to make such drastic changes as I did. Maybe it is a matter of confronting a supervisor regarding a situation at work. Maybe it is about hours at work. Maybe it is your commute. Many employers are allowing their employees to telework for at least a couple of days during the week. Perhaps that is enough stress relief. I know some people who simply get a book on tape and listen to that during their long commute. It keeps them from stressing out over the traffic and allows them to approach their work day more focussed.
One thing I will suggest is that you leave work on time. Working long hours for extended periods of time will only breed exhaustion. Sure it is okay to put in long hours every once in a while. However, working way beyond what is required rarely end up being productive.
Have an Outlet
What do I mean by this? Well, what do you do for fun? Do you craft? Do you read? Make sure you carve out some time for you. It is important to have some quiet time away from the kids and away from your spouse. I never really learned how important it was to have that time alone and get to know myself until my kids were much older. I kept thinking how much it would have helped if I had just taken 30 minutes a day for myself. I certainly would have felt less overwhelmed as a young mother with two in diapers.
Notice that I listed this one separate from the one above. It is important to exercise but I think it is also important to have a different outlet. Maybe that is because I don’t really like exercising. However, if exercising is your thing and you love it, by all means it may be your outlet. I really enjoy gardening and working in my yard. I like to walk as well. So, those are things I like to do in terms of exercise. Exercise is a great way to work through some of the stress of the day. I find when I am overwhelmed just going outside and working in the garden for a few minutes helps me clear my head. Then I can tackle any issue with a much better attitude.
Get Enough Sleep
Of course, I am writing this and it is almost 1 a.m. I am a bit of a night owl. Getting enough rest is so important. It is essential that your body has that time to reset itself so it can face the day. There are lots of things you can do to ensure you get enough sleep. One of them is to make sure you put your cell phone down and turn your computer off an hour before you go to bed. Not only do the lights keep you from falling asleep, it helps your brain settle down. Honestly, it is better to leave work at work and address emails when you get back the next day.
Eat Nutritious Foods
I admit it. I have been addicted to sugar and Diet Dr. Pepper for years. However, my recent change in my lifestyle has allowed me to stop the caffeine and the Diet Dr. Pepper. Hopefully that will reduce my sugar cravings as well. I am also drinking a lot of water and infusing it with lemon, cucumbers and lime to help detoxify my poor body. I am already feeling better though I am feeling the effects of the lack of caffeine. I know I will be okay though.
I know it is know surprise that eating well is going to make you sleep well. Having a lot of sugar before bed is not the best way to promote sleep. Teas with chamomile are known to help relax a person and promote rest. Either way, an adult should get 6-8 hours of rest a night. Going to bed and getting up at the same hour are a great way to promote a restful sleep and will help a person combat stress.
Well, there you have it. Those are my two cents on combatting stress and setting yourself up for coping with everyday stress. Honestly, stress in our lives is unavoidable. It is really how we cope with it that is what is important. It is important that we don’t allow stress to overtake our lives. When it begins to effect our health it is important to make lifestyle changes. Many of these things I am working on. Let me know what you are working on to recreate your life and make it as stress free as possible!