Stress. What are the symptoms and how can you deal with it?
Being a nurse is rewarding but it can also be a stressful profession, requiring both physical and mental energy.
Earlier this year the Observer reported that the number of nurses taking time off due to stress has soared Nurses are having to work more demanding and longer shifts at a time when understaffing and the increasing complexity of illnesses add to pressures.
In response to the problem, last week Simon Stevens - NHS England's chief executive - announced plans to support the health of NHS workers as part of a new drive to cut sickness rates. Under Stevens’ initiative, NHS workers will have access to support to stop smoking and weight-loss services, and NHS organisations will be told to serve healthier food, promote exercise, reduce stress and provide regular health checks.
Stress can affect all aspects of your life, including your emotions, behaviour, thinking ability and physical health. Symptoms of stress can be vague; some of the main signs are listed below:
- Low energy
- Aches, pains, and tense muscles
- Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
- Frequent colds and infections
- Clenched jaw and grinding teeth
But there are things you can do to alleviate stress - simple changes that you can make to your environment and behaviour. Pulse Nursing’s top tips for a less stressful life are:
- Be around people that make you smile
Positive people emanate positive energy and being near to a source of positive energy will make you thrive.
- East slower
Eating slowly, and paying attention to your eating, can be a great form of mindfulness. Enjoy your food rather than rushing through a meal thinking about what you need to do next.
- Talk slower
Making an effort to speak slower means you’re controlling your adrenalin levels. Just the act of focusing on lowering your rate of speech can have a positive effect on your nerves.
- Massage your earlobes
Massaging your earlobes helps to relax all the muscles in your face and body and also releases endorphins in the brain which make you feel good.
- Take more vitamin C
This wonder vitamin is proven to help reduce both the physical and psychological effects of stress on people.
- Surround yourself with calming colours and scents
Research has shown that different colours and scents have different effects upon us emotionally and physically. Choose light blue, yellow, pink and green. Calming scents include lemon, lavender and jasmine.
- Make sure your nutrition is good and take regular exercise
Reduce stress levels with a good diet and exercise plan. Avoid caffeine and simple sugars and starches and change the balance of stress hormones in your brain by exercising for 20 minutes, three times a week. Further information on how to manage stress can be found here.