Hey everyone, I touched on this briefly in a previous post, but today I’d like to go into greater detail of why it is so important to find a way to turn work off at the end of the day and give your mind and body time to recover and recharge, so that you are ready to give the best of you the next day.
As you probably know if you’ve read any of my previous posts my name is Emma and I’m a registered nurse. I love my job and the sense of helping people everyday fills me with an amazing sense of purpose and I get a lot of joy from it. However, there are times when the emotional as well as the physical demands of this job can be so stressful, that it can be incredibly hard to go home at the end of the day without taking those stresses with you. This is why I’ve created my Stress and Relaxation – Rest and Relax post today to give you some ideas and make some recommendations as to what you can do to help yourself.
I work on the Gynecological ward at my hospital and I love working there. I work with an amazing team of like-minded people and they are a joy to work with. Now the thing is because of the specialty of my ward it can be a very emotionally charged place with a lot of my patients having to deal with situations, loss and traumas that leave them in a very vulnerable state. After you’ve been a nurse for a while and when you’re being trained you learn to be kind and show empathy, whilst remaining professional. But after a while you find your way of doing this is to emotionally stay distant. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be able to do this job day after day, you’d be a complete emotional wreck. So it becomes so important at the end of the day to completely switch work off, relieve your stress, rest and relax.
The physical stresses of being a nurse can really take a toll on your body and mind. There was a time when I honestly didn’t think I would be able to remain a nurse for my entire working life due to suffering with sore feet and lower back pain for a long time, If I hadn’t been advised on certain measures to take I don’t think I’d be a nurse now.
Nurses walk an incredible distance throughout a shift and spend long periods constantly on their feet so they do suffer more than most with foot, leg and back pain. A lot of the conditions that Nurses suffer with are very similar to injuries and conditions that affect athletes, due to the physical stresses we put our bodies through whilst carrying out our duties.
This is why you need to rest and relax after your shift to give your body time to recover.
Things you can do to Rest and Relax
Take a warm bath – Having a long soak in the bath is an amazing way to relax both the body and mind. The effects of a warm bath must not be over-looked. Not only does it relax your muscles but it will also help to reduce inflammation in your joints. It can also lower your blood pressure and help to relieve headaches. My husband Peter suffers with both headaches and high blood pressure and he always says he feels so much better after a nice soak in the bath. It is also great for moisturizing the skin as it allows the pores to open and the skin to absorb the oils and salts.(If you’re a nurse a quick shower to wash the work day off of you is recommended before you have a soak in the bath for hygienic reasons).
I would recommend having a soak for 15 – 20 minutes making use of oils and/or Epsom salts. A warm bath doesn’t have to be too hot. You should be able to get into the bath and lie down horizontally straight away whilst feeling comfortable. If you have to do this in stages it is too hot. I personally use salts and oils and will have a few candles dotted around as I find flickering candlelight very relaxing. The aroma of the oils or the salts makes the experience all the more relaxing. It is also a great way to have 20 minutes of relaxing alone time whilst living in a busy home. I find this the absolute best way to wash the work day away and usually by the end of my bath I am already quite relaxed and hardly thinking about work at all.
Stretching Exercises – These will help to alleviate any tension and relieve aches and pains that have built up throughout the day in your muscles and joints. If you suffer with foot and back pain ( especially Plantar Fasciitis ) these should be a part of your work and home routine and should be utilized every day. I have covered these thoroughly in a previous post. Please click on the link below for a thorough description of all the stretches you can and should use.
Wear comfy clothes and keep yourself hydrated – After you’ve washed the work day away and are starting to feel more relaxed it is a good idea to put on some clothes that you will be most comfortable in. This is different for everybody. For me I like to chill out in either my loose fitting Joggers or PJ bottoms and a loose top. My husband Peter likes to rest in his shorts and a loose T-shirt. It really is a case of what you personally find the most comfortable.
It is also beneficial especially after a bath to keep yourself hydrated. A warm bath especially with salts in can add to dehydration you’ve accumulated throughout the day. So make sure to drink plenty of water. I also have a nice warm drink of hot chocolate about an hour before bed. This will kick start my mind into getting ready for bed.
Relaxation techniques – There are many relaxation techniques out there that can aid you to switch your train of thought from the work day to your home life and they really do aid you to reach a relaxed and restful state. The thing is with these techniques is that some will work for you and some just won’t. I personally have tried quite a few and have now found techniques that really work for me. I researched and then researched some more and tested a few and then I was recommended to buy an audio book on relaxing techniques by a friend and it was amazing. It is where I got a lot of the information I am sharing with you today.
The techniques I use are Visualization and meditation. Visualization involves emptying your mind of negativity, which is easiest with your eyes closed. Then thinking of nice, beautiful places and happy things and times in your mind. This is also a great aid for getting yourself to sleep. I personally always envisage our last family holiday, particularly when we were at the beach and the weather was spectacular. I can hear the sound of the waves on the shore, feel the light breeze and the sun on my skin and hear my children giggling. This really relaxes me and brings on a feeling of happiness and contentment.
The other technique I use regularly is meditation. Now you don’t have to be an expert in yoga or spiritually enlightened to meditate. A few minutes of peace and quiet, practicing deep breathing whilst sat in a comfortable position and clearing the mind is enough to relax you and put you in a restful state. Both of these techniques are most effective when practiced in a quiet room whilst you are on your own away from distractions and where you won’t be disturbed.
Massage – If you have a partner then I would recommend that you ask them to massage you, it is always more relaxing if someone else is massaging you, I am very lucky that my husband Peter is very adept at this. There are a lot of areas of the body you can massage yourself. Massaging oils into the body eases and relaxes the muscles and calms the nerves. When doing this there are a lot of pressure and stress points in your body that you can reach yourself If no one is at hand to do it for you. You also have the option to have a professional massage although this can be a bit expensive. I’ve had a few professional massages and have always been amazed at how much better I feel afterwards.
Exercising – Physical exercising, whether it’s at the gym or at home releases endorphins into the body which makes you feel happy. I’ll be honest here and say since I’ve become a mum I don’t exercise anywhere near as much as I should. But when I do I feel so much better about myself. I have friends that are fitness fanatics and If they break from their fitness schedule they find it almost impossible to rest and relax. Again finding a way to relax is different for everybody.
Escapism – Concentrate the mind on other things
Listen to music – The majority of people have a favourite kind or style of music that they enjoy listening to when they are relaxing. The important thing is to listen to music that makes you feel good and relaxes you. I would recommend soft, gentle music that will help you too relax. Very loud and fast music will probably not help too much if the aim is to achieve a calm and relaxed state. Listening to soft gentle music whilst in a warm bath is my favourite thing for forgetting about the work day and relaxes me completely.
Reading & Listening to audio-books – This helps you to escape from your own thoughts and things that you are thinking about and takes you away too whatever place or topic that you’re reading about. I personally love a good thriller and before I started this blog I could quite easily have read 2 – 3 books in a week, but now I still manage to read one a week. This works out fine for me because I’m still focusing on doing something other than thinking about my work day which is the point. There are books, audio-books, musical recordings and programmes that you can get, that have been specifically written and recorded to aid you in being able to reach a calm and relaxed state of mind. I will be reviewing what I believe are the best relaxation and rest programmes very soon in a later article.
Engage in your Hobbies and Interests – Again this is all about getting you to focus on something other than your work day. It could be absolutely anything that you enjoy doing or you find holds your interest. As I’ve said earlier I love to read and also to engage in my new passion of writing this blog. However, it may be different for everybody. Here are a few examples: Dancing, singing, arts and crafts, gaming, watching movies and TV, baking, chess. You get the idea, it could be anything as long as it occupies the mind and helps you to not think about work.
Socializing – Meeting up with your friends for a chat and a little catch up or even chatting with them over the phone can help reduce stress and I find that if you want to vent and tell someone about your day this gets it out of your system and then it is gone for the evening most of the time. Even just engaging on social media with like-minded people, friends and family will let you feel connected and keep your mind occupied whilst doing this activity.
Spend time with your nearest and dearest and enjoy their company, laugh as much as you can and as often as you can as this is probably the best way to lighten up your mood after a long stressful day. This will relieve stress and make you feel happy. I guarantee you have never felt stressed and anxious when you have just finished laughing really hard at something you’ve found hilarious.
The end of the day – it is time to switch off and sleep
This is a very important time of the day in your relax and rest regime. About 30 minutes before you want to go to sleep you need to disengage from everything. This means you should turn off everything that’s been keeping your mind occupied and active and allow your body and mind to completely wind down so that you’re ready to sleep. Turn off all electricals such as games consoles, i pads, computers and TV’s. Have a Hot milk or chocolate ( avoid tea and coffee as these have caffeine in them and will keep your mind active ) and spend some quiet time just letting your mind relax.
Bedtime – Go to bed rested and relaxed and try to get a minimum of 6 – 8 hours of quality sleep. If you find that once you’re in bed you are struggling to get off to sleep try counting slowly up to ten and then slowly back down to one again. If this fails just count slowly upwards until you fall asleep. This always works for me. If you find you are waking through the night to use the toilet try having your nighttime drink earlier. A quality nights sleep should not be broken sleep.
If you can manage to find your way to rest and relax you will find it has a really positive effect on your well-being and general health. I hope some of the information I have talked about today will be of some benefit to you and remember it is not a one size fits all and I’m sure I’ve probably missed a few ways of resting and relaxing out. If you think of any that you would like me to add to this, or you have any questions or just need a hand with something please leave a comment in the box or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will try to help.
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