4 min read

Your Health: Managing Stress

 

Stressed Nurse

 

To say there is a lot going on at the moment in Australian health services is a big understatement!  We’re hearing every day from members on issues causing increased stress and anxiety at work. The hardest part is when workplace issues seem way out of your control.

No one needs increased cortisol levels so here are some helpful tips to reduce daily stress …  

Diet

Trying to reduce stress by drinking alcohol or eating unhealthy foods may seem to help in the moment, but actually may add to stress in the long run. Caffeine can also compound the effects of stress. Focus on a healthy, balanced diet can help to combat stress.

These are some of the best foods to help fight stress:

  • Brazil nuts. - contains selenium that reduces inflammation and may improve mood 
  • Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout, and herring, are high in omega-3 which promotes healthy brain function.
  • Eggs contain Vitamin D which is proven to fight depression.
  • Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of potassium and zinc.  Potassium helps regulate  electrolyte balance and manage blood pressure. Zinc is essential for brain and nerve development. 
  • Dark chocolate has a high tryptophan content, which the body uses to turn into mood-enhancing neurotransmitters
  • Turmeric is a spice which contains Curcumin which reduces inflammation and oxidative stress that often increase in people experiencing stress.
  • Chamomile and herbal teas - well known for its anti-inflammatory, 
  • antibacterial, antioxidant, and relaxant properties.
  • Yogurt contains bacteria, Lactobaccilus and Bifidobacteria. These have positive effects on brain health which has been linked to natural gut health. 

    Sleep2

Sleep

If you’re experiencing insomnia, it’s one of the key signs that you’re stressed.  If you cannot sleep, try these tips:

  • Establish a regular sleep schedule – go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
  • Keep your bedroom dark and quiet, don't work or watch TV in your bedroom.
  • If you feel nervous or anxious, talk to your spouse, partner, or a trusted friend. Get your troubles off your mind.
  • Listen to relaxing music.
  • If you can't sleep, get up and do something relaxing until you feel tired. Don't stay in bed worrying about when you're going to fall asleep.
  • Avoid caffeine.
  • Maintain a regular exercise routine, but don’t exercise within two to three hours before the time you go to bed.

Full length of instructor with fitness class performing step aerobics exercise in gym

Exercise

Regular exercise, in addition to having physical health benefits, has been shown to be a powerful stress reliever. Consider non-competitive aerobic exercise, strengthening with weights, or movement activities like yoga or Tai Chi, and set reasonable goals for yourself. Aerobic exercise has been shown to release endorphins—natural substances that help you feel better and maintain a positive attitude.

Flower

Resilience

Resilence is the ability to bounce back and recover from difficulty.  Building your resilience and adapting to life-changing situations can enable you to emerge even stronger than before.  Here are a few tips to help get you through the hard times.

  • Reduce triggers of stress. If you are like most people, your life may be filled with too many demands and too little time. For the most part, these demands are ones we have chosen. You can free up time by practicing time-management skills like asking for help when it’s appropriate, setting priorities, pacing yourself, and reserving time to take care of yourself.
  • Keep Connected - Prioritize relationships. Connecting with empathetic and understanding people can remind you that you’re not alone in the midst of difficulties. Focus on finding trustworthy and compassionate individuals who validate your feelings, which will support the skill of resilience.
  • Examine your values and live by them. The more your actions reflect your beliefs, the better you will feel, no matter how busy your life is. Use your values when choosing your activities.
  • Assert yourself. It’s okay to say “No” to demands on your time and energy that will place too much stress on you. You don’t have always have to meet the expectations of others.
  • Set realistic goals and expectations. It's okay—and healthy—to realize you cannot be 100% successful at everything all at once. Be mindful of the things you can control and work on accepting the things that you can’t control.
  • Sell yourself to yourself. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, remind yourself of what you do well. Have a healthy sense of self-esteem.

If feeling stressed and overwhelmed, don’t wait to seek help:  contact your NPAQ Support team, talk to a colleague, or reach out to Nurse and Midwife Support.  

Remember that you are surrounded by a network of people who care and are ready to help you.