Ways to Unwind
Nursing is stressful. Duh. With the holidays approaching, taking time for self care has the potential to reduce your stress and increase your bliss. Here’s a list of things I’ve tried to stop my busy brain from spiraling down the rabbit hole… and to my surprise, they work. There are lots of methods listed, so use what works for you.
Self care is certainly not a one-size-fits-all scenario. You may find these are even more effective in a personalized combination effort. Maybe you're well versed in these too, but if not - try something new. My hope is that you are also pleasantly surprised at the results and can achieve a little calmness this holiday season.
I know. It seems like just an awesome (expensive) luxury, but the truth is, our bodies may need it more than you think. Nurses put a ton of physical strain & stress on our bodies with bedside care, long shifts & emotionally straining situations. While an hour long massage can work out some of the tightest neck knots and back kinks there are, but it can also be tough to justify spending the money on it and can be difficult to afford, particularly with holiday gift giving around the corner. Here are a few ideas to get you the relaxation you need, without the high price tag:
- Try Groupon for local spa/independent masseuse deals
- Talk to your coworkers - Who do they see? Some businesses offer first time customer referral deals.
Afraid of needles? Then this next suggestion may not be ideal for you (although a nurse with needle-phobia is somewhat ironic, no?). Despite willingly trying multiple types of Eastern Medicine, I was incredibly hesitant to try this. It wasn't so much the needles as it was the thought of having said needles in me and then having to sit, alone with them left in! What if there's an earthquake? What if I have to pee? What if I sneeze or have an itch?! Luckily, a good friend of mine is very patient and (after hearing all of my laughter producing fears) she suggested we go together for the first time. It was amazing. Soothing music in the background, comfortable recliner chairs, attentive acupuncturists...and all in a community setting. Relaxing, but not alone. Perfect. If nothing else, having a 45 minute acupuncture session forces me to remain still, focus on my breathing and just relax.
- Limited sessions may be approved by some health insurance companies
- Look for a place with package deals (buy more, save more) and a comfortable setting you like
- Enjoy your time to relax & reflect… and not be interrupted.
Time with friends
Taking time away from family obligations and working to really connect with others you enjoy can be very fulfilling. You may even find that you return to life's responsibilities a little more refreshed. Satisfying conversation and time well spent with others can provide an opportunity to deepen your connections with those who matter most.
- Take the initiative - don't wait around to be invited. Plan an event for you and your friend(s) to enjoy. It can be anything you like, from dinner out to a night in (sweatpants and wine optional, but also recommended).
Meditation at the start or end of any day can allow a temporary escape from your holiday task list, or at least reframe your thoughts about it. Taking time to mentally assess and clear out your thoughts, while focusing on breathing/stillness, can promote a healthier brain and a happier you!
- Many find meditation difficult, even after practicing for years. A new app I've been using for a wide variety of guided meditations is called Simple Habit. It even has a great "remind me to meditate" alarm-type feature.
Having a creative outlet can be a great source of stress relief. There's something about making anything with your own two hands that has a way of melting away anxiety and distracting your mind. Here's a few ideas to try:
- Group hobby: join a book club, host a movie night, etc.
- Art: take a painting class or simply pick up some cheap art supplies/crafts for home use
- Cooking: the sounds and scents are cooking can be really enjoyable and therapeutic. If it's something you enjoy, maybe take time to bake/cook your favorite dish. Meal box subscription services are also very popular right now and can help you discover a new recipe.
Not only is physical activity good for your heart, it's also great for your mind. Getting your blood pumping can provide a great stress release & increase endorphins. You don't have to be an Olympic athlete to enjoy the benefits of a good sweat. Give any of these activities a whirl to wind down:
- Go for an outdoor walk
- Join a running club: meet other people in your neighborhood & get a great workout
- Join a gym: many offer group classes if you're not sure where to start. Bonus- there are lots of deals during the holiday season, some even waiving initial membership fees or offering free trial periods)
- Try a group sport: another great way to meet others, plus enjoy a little healthy competition
What are your favorite ways to unwind from the stresses of work, family, and holiday demands?
About Ashley Hay, BSN, RN
Freelance healthcare writer and owner of AHayWriting.com with over a decade of nursing experience in several areas of pediatric & adult oncology.
Joined: Aug '16; Posts: 85; Likes: 315
Freelance Healthcare Writer & Pediatric Oncology RN
Specialty: 10 year(s) of experience in Oncology