Let It Go and Relax
Have you ever had a morning where there is no coffee in the house, you and/or your loved ones have overslept, the children are moving as slow as snails, there are no clean uniforms, and no hot water?
Have you ever had a morning where there is no coffee in the house, you and/or your loved ones have overslept, the children are moving as slow as snails, there are no clean uniforms, and no hot water for a shower? You think your stressful morning is finally over once you make it out of the house, into the vehicle, and off to work. However, as many of us know, that is usually not the case. You merge onto the road thinking all is good until you get behind another driver who drives consistently 10 mph under the speed limit, you catch every red light possible, and the morning traffic puts you twenty minutes behind schedule. When you arrive to work, there is no parking and the unit where you work is short staffed. I could go on, but I think we all can relate one way or another. You have just begun your day and already have experienced a substantial amount of stress.
As a Post-Anesthesia Care Unit nurse, I have experienced countless mornings like the one mentioned above. I have thought to myself plenty of times," How can I reduce this inevitable stress and anxiety?" I have read numerous articles, talked to fellow nurses, and discussed stress relieving methods with my Primary Care Physician Assistant. Through my research, I have developed some techniques in which you can successfully decrease stress and anxiety before entering the hallways to your unit. Morning time stressors will always be there, but these five stress relief methods are sure to make those mornings just a little
A wonderful way to start your day is with exercise. Exercise guides you into a state of well-being. In addition, exercise lowers your stress levels and kick starts your feel-good boosters (endorphins). Here are a few suggestions to start your day: push-ups (sets of 10), wall-sit (as long as you can), taking the stairs, and walking whenever you can.
My Primary Care Physician Assistant suggested that I do yoga every day before work. Performing yoga helps you relax, improve heart health, and flexibility. M. Mala Cunningham PH.D., counseling psychologist and founder of Cardiac Yoga states: "Yoga is designed to bring about increased physical, mental, and emotional well-being." (1) You can select a Yoga class to engage in through the internet, cable, your smartphone, gym, and work. The lists of yoga resources are endless.
3. DEEP BREATHING
There are many different approaches of deep breathing techniques adopted in the art of Yoga that may assist you in decreasing anxiety and relaxing you on the drive to work. As a PACU nurse, I encourage patients to take deep breaths in order to relax and to help control their post-surgical pain. I instruct the patients to breathe in slowly through their nose and then to slowly release their breath out through their mouth. It is a great ideal to replicate this deep breathing exercise on the way to work.
Deep breathing may assist in you in calming the mind, reducing anxiety and calming worries. I typically suggest that patients close their eyes while taking deep breaths, but I do not recommend this while driving!
William Congreve stated: "Music hath charms to soothe a savage beast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak."(2) Listening to music before work, whether at home or in your vehicle, can definitely "soothe the savage beast" of your hectic morning. There are so many different types of music to choose from, so choose the music that best suits you.
My daughter listens to what they call "Screamo" music, but I personally love listening to instrumental movie theme songs on the drive to work Whatever type of music you enjoy, as long as it relieves your morning time stress, go ahead and give it a listen, and sing it at the top of your lungs!
There is plenty of research on the subject of the benefits or hazards of drinking coffee. Some researchers say coffee is good and others say it is bad. I have a Master's in Health Services with an Emphasis on Wellness Promotion. Throughout my studies, there was one statement that I encountered frequently, "everything in moderation." If coffee is what you need to relax and jump-start your day, then have a cup, but in moderation.
There are so many ways to help reduce stress and anxiety. The above suggestions are only a few ways to relax and calm that morning time anxiety. The World Wide Web offers a vast amount of information to assist you in finding ways to de-stress before work as well. If you follow these five suggestions along with doing some of your own research, you will be well on your way to a stress-free morning.
Remember, always check with your physician before starting any new program.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: I have 27 years of nursing experience specializing in Post-Anesthesia care and Emergency Room care. I received my Bachelors of Nursing from Florida State University and my Masters of Science in Health Services with an Emphasis on Wellness Promotion from Independence University. The combination of the two degrees and my interest in fitness and wellness have inspired me to continue to write articles to help others in my profession find a way to keep healthy and decrease stress.
1. "Yoga and Heart Health." heart.org. n.d. January 19, 2018, American Heart Association - Building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
2. "Phrases." Phrases.org.uk. n.d. January 29,2018, The meanings and origins of the English Phrases, Sayings and Proverbs we use daily.
Feb 27Great article! I am the type of person who always needs my cup of coffee to get me going in the morning. Lately, I have been trying to stay away from it, since learning it's considered a bladder irritant. In any event, I will take your advice on "everything in moderation." Thanks!Mar 1I personally like the music (especially instrumental music) and occasional coffee tips; they usually do the trick. Excercise works well too. I personally like to walk outdoors or use the elliptical at the gym. Also I often times use a combination of music and excercise at the same time. Listening to an inspirational of motivating talk on your iPod/iPhone while you exercise can be helpful too. Sometimes I stream these talks or my Bible from my iPhone through the speakers as I ride to and from work, or in general. I also find that praying for a positive outlook helps me to more effectively manage the inevitable reality of stress in life. Through prayer, reading, reflection, and experiences, I've come to realize that stress must in fact be managed- not ignored, denied, or swept under the rug. It MUST be addresed.
What I personally have found helps me when I feel stress building is just to take a 5-15 minute break and use my iPhone notepad to put a name to everything that is bothering/irritating me at the moment, one by one. Then I ask myself, "what can be done about it?" If I can't do anything about a particular stressor (i.e. I'm already late, I'm in traffic, or a driver cut me off in traffic and gave me the finger- maybe he was just stressed too) I choose to simply acknowledge it, delete it and let it go rather than waste my energy stewing over it. Then with the situations I can do something to solve or improve (i.e. time management/oversleeping/rushing, alternate routes) I write out goals and a plan of action, asking for help or suggestions if needed. Asking others for help is great because it helps give me a mental break and proves to me that I am not alone in my problems.
Reducing my stress/anxiety into writing helps me break up a looming cloud of misery into little raindrops that flow away into a peaceful flowing stream. Often times I find that a lot of the things I stress over are things that don't require my time or energy. Also, there are many things I can reasonably do to manage and reduce the amount of stress in my life.