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Tips for managing stress at work and home

Nursing can be one of the busiest and most stressful occupations. Long, as well as odd hours and a lot of standing and lifting, can take a significant toll on the body. Nursing focuses on caring for others, which sometimes causes the nurse to forget to care for herself. Many different techniques exist to lower overall stress levels and promote long term health, both inside and outside of work.

Several studies have shown to have positive outcomes with specific workplace self-care programs. Kravits et al. (2008) utilized relaxation techniques and art to reduce stress amongst nurses with beneficial results. The program participants developed their own personalized wellness plans which showed immediate results in reducing stress and increasing overall health.

Tips for managing stress at work

Take Breaks

Working long hours and constantly jumping from task to task can take a physical and emotional toll on any individual. Taking even five minute breaks from time to time helps the body to relax and conserve energy and will lead to a more productive day.

Just Breathe

Countless studies show that deep breathing exercises can be very effective at reducing stress levels. One example of an effective breathing exercise is the "Equal Breathing" technique. This technique involves inhaling for four seconds followed by exhaling for four seconds. Breathing exercises such as the "Equal Breathing" technique reduce stress and calm the nervous system.

Enjoy a Lunch Break

Nurses get focused and develop a groove at work, losing track of time. Taking a lunch break is important for several reasons. First, it provides another period of relaxation to take your mind off of work. Secondly, it increases the likelihood of eating a meal with higher nutritional content. Lastly, taking a lunch break helps prevent unhealthy snacking throughout the shift.

Relieve stress exist outside of work

Exercise, hobbies, and spending time with family can all be beneficial in reducing burnout, lowering stress, and improving overall health. If you have trouble relieving stress outside of work, here are some ideas:


One of the oldest activities known to reduce stress is still one of the most beneficial. A massage stimulates and manipulates large muscle groups in various parts of the body. These are especially beneficial following a long week at work.

Tea/Herbal Aroma Therapy

Warm baths that utilize herbs and different oils have been used for centuries as a method of physical, emotional and spiritual healing. These baths relax the nervous system as well as large muscle groups while lowering stress and promoting relaxation and peace of mind.

Healing Touch

Derived from an ancient Japanese healing method known as Reiki, healing touch is a meditative program within Augusta Health administered by Healing Touch certified staff. This focuses on gentle laying on of hands in a non-directed and non-diagnostic manner.

Works cited

Kravits, K., McAllister-Black, R., Grant, M., & Kirk, C. (2008). Self-care strategies for nurses: A psycho-educational intervention for stress reduction and the prevention of burnout. Applied Nursing Research, 23, 130–138. doi:10.1016/j.apnr.2008.08.002

Information provided by Josh McDearmon, Intern from JMU, working with Community Outreach.