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A little stress can motivate us toward action. It can make us faster and more efficient nurses. But when we’re overstressed, we tend to only use the upper part of our lungs to breathe. This keeps our shoulders tight and slightly raised, and that contributes to our tension.
One of the best ways to reduce stress is to get off of the “treadmill” that is your job and be aware of your position and disposition.
Here’s how to regroup and reduce stress in less than 60 seconds:
1. Pause. Just stop where you are and close your eyes (try not to do this in the middle of a busy hallway).
2. Take a few slow, deep breaths—all the way to the bottom of your lungs.
3. Relax your shoulders and your face, especially your forehead.
4. Make yourself aware of how you’re standing—be aware of your muscles and your attitude.
5. Give yourself a few seconds to get in touch with your mind, body and spirit.
6. Realign, if necessary, then proceed with your day.
Try to do this several times a day. Sometimes the only time to do this is when you’re using the restroom, and that’s okay, just as long as you do it.
Exercise is a great way to keep it all “in check.” If your busy day forced you to miss your favorite physical activity, try this technique while lying in bed before you go to sleep: Take slow, deep breaths. Starting with your toes, consciously relax every toe, then your ankles, calves, etc., working your way all the way up to the top of your head. You’ll find it easier to fall asleep and you’ll get the benefits of taking those nice deep breaths.