Bad days happen, and as most nurses can tell you, usually one bad thing tends leads to another like a terrible chain reaction. You spilled your coffee right before you were about to head out the door. Your car didn’t start and you were late to work. A patient yelled at you. Once you’ve acknowledge that you’re going to be in a grumpy mood, you’re probably going to stay in that mood the rest of the day. And there’s nothing worse than the advice, “Don’t worry about it,” or “Just smile!”
If you need a practical solution to turn your bad day around before it gets worse, then take a deep breath – right here – and read on:
1. Step away from the phone
Just think about about how much attention your electronics require of you. They’re linked to your text message, social media and email accounts. And all of these are vying for your attention and pulling you in a million different directions. It’s too much at times. Harvard Health Publications explained that unplugging your devices is a quick way to alleviate stress.
“Just 10 to 15 minutes away from electronics is ample time to regroup.”
Fortunately, all of those people who are waiting to hear back from you can continue to do just that – wait. If they needed to reach you regarding an urgent matter, they would have called, so you’re safe to leave your phone, computer, tablet or television behind for just a couple minutes of solitude from the world. Harvard said that even just 10 to 15 minutes away from electronics is ample time to regroup. Removing yourself from these stressors allows the mind to refocus and gives you energy to tackle whatever is next.
Don’t just wait until you feel stressed to follow this tip however – you might just notice a difference if you step away from the phone every day.
2. Find your something blue
Thrillist recommended looking at the color blue to help your mind relax – just try to look at something other than scrubs, as those might actually induce more stress. Colors have a profound impact on your psyche, and can even evoke a physical response from the body. Blue just so happens to be associated with serenity and relaxation, explained the source. It has been found to have a sedative effect. If your hospital is near an ocean, it might be worth a quick trip to the beach on your break to take in that endless supply of blue. Plus, the fresh air can’t hurt either. If you can’t leave the premises quite yet however, you can improvise by looking at the sky, or even carrying something blue so you can whip it out when times get tough.
3. Write a letter, but don’t send it
The oldest trick in the book is to start journaling your emotions. Just get them out of you! Psych Central explained that journaling is great for you well-being, as it can actually help you change your perspective and habits. Some nurses might be familiar with this study, but just in case you aren’t, here’s a refresher on James Pennebaker’s research on the benefits of journaling. Pennebaker believed that regular journal entries allow the brain to better process stressful situations. It gives you a channel in which you can objectively assess and clarify what is causing your stress.
Writing is also useful because it busies the analytical left side of the brain and opens up the creative right side of your brain, added the source. This simply means that writing “removes mental blocks” so you can learn more about yourself, come up with creative and more effective solutions and ultimately reduce stress.
4. Enforce the “me-time” rule
If you’re having a hard time with stress at work, that means you might not be taking adequate time to relax at home. Take into account all the previous rules. Shut down your electronics, find your something blue and spend some time writing about your feelings. Harvard also mentioned that taking time for yourself is incredibly important. You have to find whatever hobby takes your blood pressure down. Exercise is one of those activities that is good for your mental and physical well-being, so consider going for a jog or enrolling in a yoga class.
But relaxing can also be as simple as drawing a bubble bath and surrounding yourself with soft music and glowing, lavender scented candles – lavender just so happens to be a scent that helps ease you into a state of tranquility. Or you could head to the dog park and watch some pups roll around. Dogs are one of those animals that help relieve stress, explained Animal Smart blog. Just petting a dog increases the presence of the hormone in charge of reducing stress called oxytocin. So head to the park and learn a lesson from those animals that truly don’t have a care in the world – other than where their ball is.