From the weather crisis in Texas currently causing widespread power losses to the nearly year-long pandemic that has shifted all of our lives immensely, this year has proven to be difficult, to say the least. For healthcare workers, this added stress can be especially harmful. Between all of the uncertainty, it can be helpful to know some quick stress-reducing strategies, as well as keeping in mind long-term wellness techniques.
Before caring for others, it is important to take the time to care for yourself.
Quick, Efficient Stress-Reducing Strategies
Depending on the situation, having different playlists on hand with either uplifting music or calming music can be a helpful tool. Relaxing sounds can reduce stress and uplifting music has been proven to improve mood.
A quick strategy to slow your heart rate and allow your blood to flow more easily to your brain, simply cooling off with some cold water can do the trick. Even better, dipping your face in a bowl of ice water can activate this dive response and make you feel calm fast.
Pace Your Breathing
This activity has many physiological benefits that help promote tranquility. By directing your awareness to your breathing and consciously inhaling and exhaling, you can effectively slow down your breathing and promote feelings of calm and other health benefits.
Check in with yourself. Ask yourself the questions: What am I thinking? Feeling? Doing? Then ask yourself if your response is helpful, aligned with your values now, or related to future worries or a past problem.
Beyond these quick fixes for in-the-moment high stress, here are some additional things to keep in mind especially during these difficult times.
Mindfulness is a practice that helps you build your inner strength. This is done through being more aware of your thoughts and can help with stress by allowing you to step back and be more aware of your needs and emotions. Your level of care and compassion for yourself and others rises, you are better able to focus, and have a greater sense of well-being overall. To get here, it starts with bringing awareness to what you’re experiencing or to your state of mind, either through your senses or through your thoughts and emotions. It is something you can train yourself to do whether it be through meditation or simple mindful practices everyday.
Many of us have so many responsibilities in life that we forget to take care of our personal needs. This can be particularly true especially in healthcare due to the significant caregiving responsibilities one holds. Self care can mean anything from doing an activity you enjoy to adding in a skin care routine to your everyday schedule. Little things like that can be a reminder to yourself that you are worth it. Because you are.
Sleep is a powerful stress reducer. Following a regular sleep routine calms and restores the body, improves concentration, regulates mood, and sharpens judgment and decision-making.
Food has a direct line to causing or helping disease and dysfunction in the body. By avoiding inflammatory, processed, or toxic ingredients and substances you can begin to experience numerous benefits. Similar to mindfulness and meditation, your diet can play a dynamic role in mood, emotions, and brain-signaling pathways, as well as provide support for anxiety. Anxiety-reducing foods include sweet potatoes, kimchi, artichokes, eggs, fatty fish, blueberries, and more. Adding stress-reducing recipes to your diet can help you feel relaxed, healthy, and balanced. Of course, treating yourself to some chocolate and wine after a long shift can be relaxing all the same.
Everyone is different in how they manage stress and work through difficulties in their lives. This being said, find what works for you to feel better and be your best self! We appreciate all of your hard work. Just know, you are loved, appreciated, and deserve every second that you dedicate to yourself.