Unfortunately stress in the workplace is all too common for nurse practitioners, and some days it may even feel as though it’s part of your job description. When not combated, chronic stress can begin take a serious toll on your physical and mental health. Although long term strategies like daily exercise have proven to be highly effective in reducing stress, often times we face more immediate situations in our workday in which we need a quick and effective solution in dealing with mounting tension. Here are six ways to reduce stress while sitting at your desk.
Who doesn’t love to daydream of a vacation on a beach somewhere with a pina colada in hand? Believe it or not, a quick mental vacation such as this can do wonders for taming stress when you can’t leave your desk for an actual getaway. Simply close your eyes, forget about the pile of lab results on your desk, and spend a few minutes imagining you are in your happy place; at the beach, on top of a mountain, or any other place where you feel at peace. Then activate your senses as if you’re really in the relaxing scene by focusing what sounds you’d hear, scents you’d smell, etc.
As the saying goes, laughter is the best medicine. Laughter increases endorphins released by the brain which in turn produces a relaxed feeling. Think of a funny memory in which you laughed until you cried; or peruse the internet for a few minutes looking at funny memes, awkward family photos or reading funny jokes. Trying to see humor throughout your day can help bring light into stressful situations as well. So, take a break to chat with coworkers, recall a fun memory, or even find a chuckle on Instagram.
Breathing comes naturally but sometimes in stressful situations, we actually to hold our breath in. Becoming aware of your breath and performing a few deep breathing exercises produces a natural relaxation response as it allows you to focus on your body and quiet your mind, which in turn promotes a state of calmness. Sit on the edge of your chair with both feet flat on the floor. Inhale to a count of three and exhale to a count of six. Repeat the exercise five to ten times. Doing this will not only get the stale air out that you’ve been holding in, but will aid in releasing tension you’re holding on to while encouraging deep energizing inhales to flow in. Deep breathing exercises are so powerful that The American Institute of Stress named it the best stress reduction technique of all!
Head Down, Timeout
Who remembers quiet time with their heads on their desk in elementary school? Well, our former teachers may have been onto something. According to the yoga tradition, resting your forehead quiets the mind and instantly brings a sense of calmness. To try it, stack your forearms onto each other and rest your forehead on top of your arms and place your feet flat on the floor. For added relief try combining this technique with deep breathing exercises and visualization.
Stress can undoubtedly cause your muscles to contract and become tense as well. Try these five standing desk stretches to ease tension and get your blood flowing. Although it may seem a bit embarrassing to do in front of your coworkers at first, the benefits of performing simple stretches behind your desk far outweighs any awkwardness you may feel. Taking a short mental break to stretch will help you not feel so chained to you desk as well as will help you regain focus. In addition, because sitting and standing in the same position for long periods of time puts a strain on your body, doing simple stretches gives your body a break and boosts your circulatory system.
Listen to Music
Countless studies have found that music has a profound influence on our physical and emotional states. In fact, researchers have found that music causes our brains to release oxytocin and dopamine and increase the production of an array of other beneficial molecules in our biological pharmacy, which in turn boosts our level happiness and reducing anxiety. More recent research has shown that even sad music can lift your mood. So regardless of what kind of tunes you prefer, plug in some headphones and enjoy a mini jam session at your desk to combat stress. Here are a few suggestions for the nurse practitioner’s desk.
How do you de-stress from your work as a nurse practitioner while sitting at your desk?