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Wouldn’t it be ideal if the stress of the day stayed behind at the hospital? If those heart-pumping, shallow breathing, muscle-tightening moments of stress couldn’t follow you home? The reality, though, is that stress needs to be released.
A 2014 study found that stress can lead to decreased productivity, high disengagement and frequent absenteeism. It causes poor judgment, inability to concentrate, moodiness, frustration and frequent colds, among a list of other effects. Although there isn’t a magic switch that can turn stress off, you can take steps to release it so you don’t feel it build up. Here are some tips on how to destress after a hard day at work.
Let your body take the lead to destressing. By breathing deeply, you bring your body into a state of relaxation and encourage “full oxygen exchange.” This lowers the heartbeat and can lower or stabilize your blood pressure.
The opposite of deep breathing, which is shallow breathing, is a marker of a state of stress. When you experience “fight or flight,” also known as the stress response, your body is prepared for danger. Many nurses feel this response frequently during the day. By taking several deep breaths, during which you are slowly inhaling and exhaling, you relieve tension caused by this state.
Meditation, which can incorporate deep breathing, is a do-anywhere, free way to relax. It can give you a renewed sense of focus and release negative emotions.
Simply sitting quietly for several minutes a day and focusing on your breath may be enough to release your stress. Some people like to listen to guided meditation audio while lying down. It doesn’t matter which way you choose; the objective is to take a few minutes each day to be still, quiet and breathe.
If the thought of bending upside down and twisting doesn’t appeal to you when you’re stressed, think again. Yoga can put your body in the opposite state of fight or flight, which is rest and digest.
Yoga combines deep breathing and meditation as well as poses. There are several poses, such as child’s pose and upward facing dog, which can help relieve the stress of the day. One pose that is guaranteed to relieve stress is bharadvaja’s twist. This gentle seated twist gives your internal organs a massage while stretching the spine, shoulders and hips. It feels like you’re wringing out all the worries of the day and leaving them behind.
A Hot Bath
“I am sure there are things that can’t be cured by a good bath but I can’t think of one.” Sylvia Plath was on to something with this quote from The Bell Jar. The image of a hot bubble bath with candles is so inviting after a long day on your feet.
Studies show that immersion in hot water can lower your heart rate by 15% and your systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure by 11% and 12%, respectively. Spending merely 10 minutes in a warm tub increases feelings of well-being and brings on a decreased state of anxiety. Adding a few drops of lavender oil in the water has a powerful calming effect and the bath will help you to go to sleep easier, because your body increases in temperature and then cools off, which triggers melatonin in your system.
Take a Screen Break
Instead of indulging in a Netflix binge (or after indulging in a little Netflix wind-down), give your body and mind a break from stimulation and see how much more relaxed you become by practicing some of these simple, quiet de-stressing methods. Include a few of these practices in your post-work routine and feel the stress of the day melt away.