"A Nurse's Tips for Wellness in Times of Stress" | written by Cindy Roman RN
Even though we currently live in times of high stress and anxiety, its more important than ever to place our focus on out health and wellness. Stress can be defined as a natural response to help us react in a specific way to a specific situation or issue in order to resolve it. Homeostasis is the internal balance we need in order to feel well. Think of it like this..
We all have a 'fight or flight' response when confronted with high stress.
If you don’t find a resolution or find ways to change your way of reacting, it can lead to chronic stress. Chronic stress has been linked to other diseases and health conditions. When you feel increased tension in your jaw, start breathing faster, when you can hear the thudding of your pulse or when you have to force yourself to maintain breath--these are all indicators of stress and ways that peoples can start to be more self aware of when they get stressed. Many muscular and skeletal issues are related to stress. All the more reason to practice better habits and to have better health. We all deserve happiness and health.
Here are a few tips that focus on health and wellness that have worked for me.
- Power Breathing
- Power breathing is a great way to promote inner calm. This method helps you concentrate on breath to promote inner calm.
- Inhale 4 counts slowly
- Pause and hold your breath
- Exhale 8 counts slowly
- Recommend 5 cycles of breathing
- Alternate Nostril Breathing
- If you ever feel yourself hyperventilating, practice alternate nostril breathing to reduce anxiety.
- Alternate Nostril breathing harmonizes the two hemispheres of the brain.
- Place your thumb on your right nostril and your index finger will land on your left nostril.
- When you inhale through the left nostril, switch and close the left nostril with your index finger and breath out through the right nostril.
- Recommend repeating again 3-5 times to promote calm.
- Exercise can be anything from stretching for 30 minutes to a high intense workout but you have to be realistic with your goals and your limits.
- Lack of exercise or movement has created a disease of disuse.
- The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes minimum of a day, 3-5 times a week of exercise. Anything from idle stretch, resistant bands, walking, swimming, running, biking, hiking, dancing-- all of these things help decrease tension in the body and help support other organs in the body.
- Middle of the Day Idle Stretching
- Any of these stretches can be done in your bed, standing at your job, sitting in a chair working-- anywhere! These stretches are used to help increase mobility and posture.
- Stretch your face! Open up your mouth and let your jaw drop and say 'AAAhhh, EEEEE, OOOO, AAAaaaa.' Stretch our your jaw muscles and feel the stretch through your neck.
- Stretch your side! Raise both arms straight in the air, look up and point your fingers as high to the sky as you can. With your right hand, grab your left wrist and lean to the right. You should feel a stretch on the left side of your body. Raise back up to center and release your wrist.
- Now with your left hand, grab your right wrist and lean to the left. You should feel a stretch on the right side of your body. Raise back up to center and release your wrist.
- Repeat and hold poses as needed.
- If you need extra support, you do this stretch with one arm in the air and one arm on the ground for balance.
Any of these four practices-- Power Breathing, Alternate Nostril Breathing, Exercise and Stretching-- can be used to promote wellness and better health. You have to be willing to work for yourself because your body is doing its best for you on a daily basis. The more we can be proactive-- the more time dedicated to overall wellness, mental health and not just a weight number or lab result --the healthier we are overall for the long run.
ABOUT | Cindy Roman RN
Cindy is a nurse at a local Northwest Arkansas hospital with a passion for educating her local community in the importance of wellness for long term health. Stay tuned for more from Cindy in future contributions or FOLLOW her on Instagram.