Simple Ways To Relieve Stress Today

Did you know workplace stress impacts nurses with nearly the same frequency as infectious disease agents, on-the-job falls, and workplace violence combined? Alleviate your stress by trying out these easy-to-implement strategies shared by Nicole Vienneau, RN and board-certified integrative nurse coach at Blue Monarch.
 

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According to the 2016 American Nurses Association’s (ANA) Health Risk Appraisal, the biggest safety risks nurses face are often associated with workplace stress and 82 percent of nurses experience it. In fact, although nurses’ jobs will not become less stressful, research suggests that simple mindfulness techniques can help alleviate tension and have long-term health benefits. Try these suggestions and join our discussion to share with us, how you are coping with life and work stress.
 
Wash it away
Stress often comes from holding on to unpleasant experiences and stewing over them, instead of moving on. Since nurses wash their hands so frequently, Vienneau recommends using that time as a healing ritual. Recall the unpleasant encounter you just experienced and as you wash your hands, mentally wash away that situation as well. When the water and soapy bubbles go down the drain, imagine the difficulty and tension following it.
 
For other healing ritual ideas, Vienneau suggests reading Rituals of Healing by Jeanne Achterberg and Barbara Dossey. The book was a past winner of The American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year Award.
 
Try aromatherapy
Keep a small vial of an essential oil in your pocket. Smell it straight from the vial or rub it behind your neck (diluting it as appropriate) when you need it. Fragrances like lavender or frankincense are calming, while peppermint or citrus tend to be invigorating. In cases where nurses aren’t allowed to wear fragrances due to hospital or office policy, Vienneau suggests rubbing it (again diluting as appropriate) on the bottom of your feet before putting on your shoes and socks. Then you’ll get the added benefit of a quick foot massage, too.
 
Be like a butterfly
Some nurses feel stress from a negative workplace culture with gossip and bullying. “Nurses are like butterflies because we flutter purposely from patient to patient,” says Vienneau. If the negativity from coworkers is affecting your mood, be like a butterfly and move on.
 
Strike a power pose
Certain body language poses have been shown to help people feel more in control and powerful after doing them. Standing like Wonder Woman or Superman with your hands on your hips is one of them. Duck into a break room or bathroom and stand up straight, chest raised, with hands on hips for two minutes and see if you feel more energetic.
 
Touch a totem
Keep a small trinket, like a seashell from a great vacation or a hand-me-down charm from a family member, and touch it when you feel stressed. Let it mentally transport you to that special time in your life. Vienneau explains that thinking of that time is helpful, but the sense of touch and actually feeling the object’s texture will help reduce anxiety.
 
Show gratitude
A simple way to boost your mood as well as a coworker’s is to let them know that you appreciate them. Leave a sticky note on their computer or station saying you enjoy working with them. Research shows that thankfulness and appreciation tend to foster positive feelings and contribute to one’s overall sense of wellbeing and connection.
 
Breathe deeply
Before jumping into the next task or attending to a new patient, take a moment to breathe. Try the 4:7:8 technique. Slowly inhale over four counts, hold the breath for a count of seven, then exhale for a count of eight. Repeat the process three times in a row to calm and center yourself.
 
What practices do you use to overcome stress on the job or at home? Let us know in our discussion in the Quality of Life Domain. Tell us if these tactics are helpful and share your tips, tricks, and real-life inspiration about living a healthier life. Show us examples of your healthy eating on our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Tag a nurse and us #HealthyNurse.
 
 959b39a19bff88e3f3743fab00f5f7fa-huge-anHave you joined the Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation (HNHN) Grand Challenge yet? Join us today! 

 
Source List:
Cohen-Katz, J. Wiley, S. D., Capuano, T., Baker, D. M., & Shapiro, S. (2005). The Effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Burnout, Part II: A Quantitative and Qualitative Study. Holistic Nursing Practice, 19, 26-35.
Sansone, R.A & Sansone, L.A. Gratitude and Well Being: The Benefits of Appreciation. Psychiatry (Edgmont). 2010;7(11):18-22.
 
 

 

How to get your child to put away toys

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If you frequently find yourself stepping on a building block, tripping over a doll, or stumbling over a race car, then you know the challenges of getting younger children to put away their toys. Below are a few strategies to encourage children to clean up after themselves and keep the house tidy.

Make specific and focused requests

Asking your child to put many different things away all at the same time can leave room for children unintentionally to forget at least one of your requests — or intentionally skip a few. Make one specific request at a time, such as "Please put your blocks back in the bin on the shelf." After your child has finished one task, then you can request that your child puts a different toy away.

Make requests in the form of a command, not framed as a question like "Will you please clean up your blocks?" Asking a question leaves room for the child to reply, "No." Also, unless you want this to be a group activity, frame the request for just your child: "Please put your blocks back in the bin on the shelf" instead of "Let’s clean up the blocks."

Give your child time to comply, and repeat yourself only once

Children, especially young children, take more time than adults to process information. Count to five in your head after you make an initial request, to give a child time to process what you said and to comply.

If you don’t see the required action after five seconds, repeat your request in a neutral tone followed by a potential logical consequence. For example, "If you do not put your blocks away in the bin on the shelf, then you will not get to play with the blocks for the rest of the day. You can play with them tomorrow."

Count to five in your head again. If your child still does not do what you asked, say the following in a neutral tone: "Okay, you did not put the blocks away in the bin on the shelf, so you do not get to play with them for the rest of the day. You can play with them tomorrow." You can then put the blocks away and out of reach from the child so that the toys are not in use for the remainder of the day.

Stay calm and choose logical consequences

Two key elements of this approach are to remain as calm as possible and create a logical consequence.

  • Staying calm helps. Understandably, you may be very frustrated. However, it’s best to give as little attention to noncompliance as possible. Attention, even in the form of a negative tone, can make the behavior happen more often.
  • Logical consequences matter. Creating consequences that are for extensive periods of time and do not make sense to the child may spark more frustration and refusals. For example, it would not be logical for the child to lose TV time for a week if the child did not put their blocks away. Instead, limiting access to the toy is a logical consequence.

Praise behaviors you want to see

Shine attention on behaviors you’d like to see more often. Any time your child does put toys away, praise them specifically. "Good job" can confuse: the child will not know exactly what was good — sitting quietly, putting toys away, or something else. Instead, say, "Great job putting the blocks in the bin on the shelf!"

Praise with enthusiasm, and use touch, such as a pat on the back, to strengthen a behavior. If you have a child who has sensory processing difficulties, especially with tactile stimuli like a pat on the back, you can reinforce the behavior with a nonverbal gesture, such as a thumbs up.

Your days of repeating commands until you’re blue in the face and cleaning up after your children do not have to continue. The steps above can give you a breather and help your children learn to pick up after themselves.

Stuttering in children: How parents can help

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When a child starts to stutter, it can be alarming for parents. But most of the time, it’s nothing to worry about.

Stuttering is very common. In fact, according to the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), 5% to 10% of all children stutter at some point, usually between 2 and 6 years of age.

Stuttering takes different forms

Children who stutter know what they want to say; they simply run into trouble when saying it. There are three different kinds of stuttering:

  • Repetitions, when children repeat a word or parts of a word (“Can I pet your d-d-d-d-dog?”)
  • Prolongations, when they stretch a sound for a long period of time (“Sssssssssstop it!”)
  • Blocks, when they have a hard time getting words out.

Stuttering is more common in boys than girls and can run in families. We do not understand exactly what causes it. Most likely, it occurs due to a combination of factors, which may differ in each child who stutters.

Developmental stuttering, the most common form of this speech disorder, happens as children are learning speech and language skills. Stuttering can be caused by a brain injury, but that’s far less common. Contrary to what many people believe, it is rare for stuttering to be caused by psychological factors.

Helping your child manage stuttering

Nonetheless, stuttering can cause distress and stress for children and parents alike. That’s why the best way to manage stuttering is not to focus on it, but rather to be patient and supportive. For example, the NIDCD suggests that parents of children who stutter should

  • create relaxed environments for conversation: set aside time each day to catch up with your child
  • speak in a slow and relaxed way yourself
  • resist the temptation to finish your child’s words or sentences yourself; let them finish
  • focus on the content of the message rather than how it is delivered.

To the extent that you can, ignore the stuttering — but if your child brings it up or seems bothered by it, be open and accepting. Acknowledge that it is happening, but tell your child that it is fine and they shouldn’t worry. Also see additional tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics on ways parents can help toddlers and preschoolers with stuttering.

When to get more help with stuttering

Most stuttering goes away by itself within about six months; overall, 75% of children who stutter stop completely. You should talk to your pediatrician or a speech-language pathologist if

  • the stuttering has continued for more than 6 to 12 months
  • the stuttering started after ages 3 to 4 years, as this may make it more likely to continue
  • the stuttering has increased in severity or frequency
  • there is a family history of stuttering that continued past early childhood
  • your child is upset or frustrated by the stuttering.

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Do I have to yell so much?

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You’ve been trying to get your point across, but it’s not getting through. It’s getting you frustrated, maybe a little offended, so you go for a different approach.

You yell.

Now, concert-level volume has its place, like for saying, “There’s a bear behind you” or “Power line down.” But the big question is, how often do those situations come up? The answer is, rarely.

Next question: How often do you reach that intensity? “Too often” is that answer. You know that it doesn’t work. It never feels good. It never makes the situation better. You would just like to stop doing it.

It’s good to have that desire, but you need more to make it happen. What helps is to play detective to uncover your triggers, then set reasonable expectations, because underlying the yelling is stress, something that isn’t disappearing. The question, as Dr. Antonia Chronopoulos, clinical psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, asks, is “How do you regulate yourself in a tense situation?”

Start with the basics

Before you can stop, it helps to understand why we yell in the first place.

We could be in a debate and feel like we’re not being heard. We take it as an insult, get frustrated, and the brain’s limbic system sees it as a threat and sets off the fight-or-flight response.

Our blood pressure rises, breathing becomes shallow, and muscles tense up. Since our history factors in, we can start making assumptions. Adrenaline makes everything go faster, and our attention narrows. “When we’re in survival mode, we’re not thinking about creative solutions as effectively,” she says. “The prime directive is to defend, escape, or fight.”

It’s also not a solo act. We’re yelling at someone, and our attempt to control the situation triggers that person, setting off the aforementioned emotional and physiological reactions, and possibly creating a shoutfest (which is anything but festive).

And there’s one more part, which gets overlooked: the flight element. If we decide to not yell and end up holding anger in, the same process is still taking place: the tense muscles, shallow breathing, narrow focus. We might not be making a lot of noise, but we’re far from calm or looking to improve the situation. “It’s almost like a freeze response,” Chronopoulos says.

The goal is to find the middle ground: not fighting, not flighting, and where you can be more in tune with the other person.

How you get there

It’s not impossible to calm down while yelling. You can find a way to break the dynamic with deep breathing, pausing the conversation, and/or walking away from the trigger, but it is difficult. The best course is to practice strategies before you need to call upon them, because fear is a primitive emotion, and once we’re in it, the body becomes hijacked. “You can’t just relax in a heated moment,” she says.

It starts with awareness

Log your behavior over one week, noting what prompted the yelling and rating your anger from zero to 10. Think about everything involved: the people, topics, location, and whether you had eaten or slept well, because self-care affects your ability to handle stress.

When you give your anger a number, it becomes more objective. You can feel the difference between a 1, 4, and 8, and are more able to control something in the early stages. And when you write down your observations, you can see patterns and start thinking about how to prevent trouble spots. It might be carrying food, avoiding certain people, or scheduling a potentially tough interaction for when you’re at your best.

Deep breathing can help

There’s no magic count. People have their own approaches. Chronopoulos suggests to just notice your breathing, or even walk away and count to 10. The result is similar. Your mind is off the stress and onto something practical and concrete. One more exercise is to progressively relax your muscles when you’re calm. You’ll then be better able to distinguish between when your body is at ease and when it’s tense. Chronopoulos calls it “discrimination training.” With this knowledge, you can remind yourself to do something as simple as lower your shoulders or unclench your hands.

Imagery is another tool

Preview your day and play out how you’ll handle the sticky moments. When the real thing happens, it won’t be the first time you’re experiencing it.

In the actual situation, use assertive dialogue over yelling or silently seething. It’s about keeping things in the first person, naming the problem, and avoiding calling out the other person. Clearly say, “When you say X, it really upsets me,” then shift into asking, “What can we do to make this work?” It goes from competition to negotiation. “Our voice can become the tool to resolve the conflict,” she says.

You can aspire to never yelling, but it may still happen

And finally, realize that none of the above is foolproof. You can’t predict every situation or be constantly mindful. You can also have different reactions to the same situation, because each day is different. “We’re never in a static state of mind,” Chronopoulos says. “But by taking these measures, we’re putting ourselves into a position for having more control of our emotions and being able to respond in a way that’s more effective.”

Go Small, More Often

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Welcome to Day 3 of the Healthy Holidays Challenge, powered by Compass One Healthcare!

When it comes to portion sizes smaller is sometimes better. During the holiday season remind yourself that moderation is key. You can have some of that pie you love but try to keep the portion small.

Another tip to consider is choosing a smaller-sized plate. No matter the size, you’ll be tempted to fill your plate with food — the smaller the plate, the smaller the portion sizes. This keeps you from overeating larger portions on an oversized plate.

The third tip for today is to eat smaller snacks and meals more often. Rather than 3 large meals each day, break them into 5–6 smaller meals, or aim for 3 smaller meals and 3 snacks. It’s important to keep your body fueled with little snacks throughout the day. That will keep you from binging too many calories later.

Here are some small snack ideas:

  • Eat a spoonful of peanut butter or nut butter alternative.
  • When your sweet tooth kicks in, add cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla powder to fresh fruit.
  • Cherry tomatoes and a part-skim mozzarella cheese stick are perfect on-the-go snacks.
  • Pro tip: Pre-pack a week’s worth of cut up fruit and vegetables, then grab and go as needed

What are your favorite healthy snacks? Share your experience in the challenge with us in in the update thread here. You can also post a photo from your favorite day of the challenge in our private Facebook group, or on Twitter, or Instagram. Tag us with #healthynurse.

If you found this helpful, use the social media links on the left side of your page to share it with a nurse and invite them to join Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation!

Women’s Health Cheat Sheet

Not sure when to get what checked out? Use this chart to make sure you’re up to date with your preventative check-ups.

 

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Despite working in health care and advising patients to get routine screenings and check-ups, 25 percent of nurses are not staying on top of their own health screenings, according to the American Nurses Association’s 2016 Health Risk Appraisal. Reasons for this include feeling overwhelmed, putting the care of patients and family members before themselves, and confusion about what age certain tests are needed.
 
“Nurses often have the mentality that ‘no news is good news,’ but intellectually we know that’s not true. Many diseases are manageable with early intervention,” says Brenda Murdough, a PACU nurse at Duke University Hospital and a 36-year veteran.
 
The annual physical under review
In the past, most physicians recommended yearly physical exams, but recently The American Medical Association altered that recommendation. “If you’re a healthy individual, with no health conditions or family history, you can get a physical every two to three years,” advises Toni Melvin, MS, CRRN, NP-C, an Adult Nurse Practitioner for Veterans Affairs. “If you have concerns or any issues, then going yearly is best.”
 
Getting specific exams and preventative screenings from specialized providers is crucial to preventing disease and helping nurses to live longer, healthier lives.
 
A Health Cheat Sheet for Women
Not sure when to get what checked out? Use this chart to make sure you’re up to date with your preventative check-ups. Please check with your provider if you have special health issues to consider.

Download and print this Women’s Health Cheatsheet for easy reference on when women need to get checkups and screenings. 
 

Screening Type When To Get It Special Considerations
Dental Exam The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends going at least once per year for an exam and cleaning, starting in childhood. The ADA suggests talking to your dentist to determine if you need to go more often.
Eye Exam The American Optometric Association recommends a vision test with an optometrist or ophthalmologist every two years after the age of 18. Children should be tested more frequently.
Physical Every two to three years for adults ages 18 – 40, and every one to two years thereafter, if you have no health conditions nor a family history of any issues, suggests Melvin. Melvin adds that if you take regular prescription medications, your health care provider is likely to want to see you more often.
Diabetes Screening Every three years, beginning at the age of 45, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). Talk to your health care provider about getting screened more often if you’re overweight or at risk for diabetes.
Blood Pressure Test At least once every two years, starting at 20, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
 
If you have blood pressure higher than 120/80, both the AHA and CDC suggest talking to your health care provider about getting checked more frequently.
 
HIV/STD Tests USPSTF recommends yearly screenings from the ages of 15 to 65.
 
 
Cholesterol Screening If you are 20 or older and have not been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, the AHA recommends having your cholesterol levels checked every four to six years as part of a cardiovascular risk assessment. If you have diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, or other conditions, you may need to be checked more frequently. In those cases, talk to your provider.
Pap Test According to the Department of Health and Human Services, women between the ages of
21 – 29, should get a Pap test every three years.
30 or older? Get a Pap test and HPV test together every five years.
Over 65? Check with your doctor.
 
Mammogram Begin annual mammograms between the ages of 40 – 44. Women aged 45 – 50 need one every year and women 55 and older, every two years, according to the American Cancer Society.  
Colorectal Cancer Screening USPSTF recommends screening 
for colorectal cancer beginning at 50 and continuing until 75.

 

If you are at high risk of colon cancer based on family history or other factors, you may need to be screened using a different schedule.

 
Additional resources can be found at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Women’s Preventive Services Guidelines and CDC webpages on Check-Ups.
 
It’s easy to forget to make appointments for routine screenings. Use these ideas to help you stay on top of them.

  • At the end of one visit, schedule the next one. Even if your appointment is two years later, your health care provider’s office can add it to their calendar and give you a call when the appointment is approaching.
  • Use important dates as reminders. Anderson tells her patients to take stock of their screenings on their birthday each year. She suggests couples use their anniversary as a time to take stock of their health.
  • Sign up for text message alerts or the email list of your health care providers. They’ll frequently notify you when you’re due for another screening or visit.
  • Take advantage of pharmacies that offer screenings. Many have a blood pressure machine that you can use while you wait for a prescription. Pharmacies nationwide are adding more and more offerings.
  • Utilize hospital or community health fairs. Many offer screenings free of charge and on the spot.

  
Find this information helpful? Have you seen our Men’s Health Cheat Sheet? Share them with a nurse you know on 
Facebook
Twitter, and Instagram by clicking on the social media links on the left side of the page. Tag us with #HealthyNurse.
 

c987219becfc64baa8a999f8eee281c1-huge-an Have you joined the Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation (HNHN) Grand Challenge yet? Join us today! 

Source List:
All About Vision. Eye Exam Cost And When To Have An Eye Exam.
American Cancer Society. Guidelines for the Early Detection of Cancer. 
CDC. Check-Ups. 
Medline Plus. Health Screening – Women Ages 18-39.
US DHHS. Office on Women’s Health. National Women’s Health Week. 
US News & World Reports. 
The Annual Physical: Do You Need a Yearly Exam?
US Preventative Services Task Force. USPSTF A & B Recommendations.