As I launch my new 7- Week Online Mindfulness-Based Program to reduce stress and give us the inspiration and strategies to love the work we do and love the way we do it, I must confess, doubts creep in.
Like, gosh, maybe people don’t feel stressed at work? Maybe they handle the ups and downs really well.
And then I wonder, maybe everyone already has a strong mindfulness meditation practice, and in moments of irritation and frustration they pick up a thread from their mindfulness practice and shift that moment into calm and ease.
But then, I experience this.
Recently, I was on a shuttle bus with a really lovely friendly driver. She saw my magazine Mindful and asked about it. She never heard about mindfulness and so I described a few ways a mindfulness meditation practice can be helpful in life.
She was very curious and asked where she might learn more about it. By the way she spoke, though, and how she greeted each entering passenger, I thought, humm…, sounds like she might have ways to de-stress and take the world in stride.
Maybe the little things that arise for her, that I find irritating in my day, don’t phase her at all.
And then I saw it. Her stress quotient finally peaked.
Pulling into the drop off lane, she cheerfully announces our arrival. But then a sudden switch in her mood. Her voice gets tight as she mutters reprimands at the cars (and their drivers) for parking where her van is supposed to pull in. We offer our sympathies and she turns up the volume, “Oh, this happens everyday! Why can’t people just observe the signs!?”
When she opens the door she rushes toward where the drivers are parked saying, “Don’t move until all my passengers are off the bus and on the curb!” She then grabs and drops several of our luggage bags before she gets them onto the sidewalk, where we stand waiting and watching.
In and Out of Stress Cycle
I so got her! And now understood why I had moments of doubt about whether there is stress in health care.
We greet the day fairly resilient, have a moment of stress (or two or three), flare up in some way (internally or externally) and then we’re back to what we think of as our emotional resilient baseline.
All is good. Only it isn’t.
More likely, we are caught in the stress–trying to cope–stress-stress some more- cycle. We are not really back at our baseline at all, we are somewhere much higher.
In other words, we think, “Things are O.K.”…Until they’re not O.K.
Nurses (and other health professionals) are really good at going in and out of stressful moments. We push what stressed us out of our minds so we can move on to the next moment.
There is a problem with that, though. At some point during the day, after work or in the near future, those distinct stressful moments rise up as a whole tangled ball of emotions that surface when you are least suspecting it.
At some point, we reach our limit and we snap.
Maybe you snap at a coworker, your boss or your patient. Or maybe after work you snap at your friend or sweetheart. Or instead of snapping, when you go to bed, you lay there, thinking, worrying, body aching.
What can help?
Not getting stressed at all, isn’t really possible and not even entirely desirable. And while coping is good, pushing your stress underground, isn’t.
But if you’re in a moment like this dear transit driver, what helps is anticipating the confusion and unpredictability when you arrive where you work.
And then be prepared to use a strategy or two that helps you notice your rising frustrations.
The first step is to acknowledge what’s happening with a gentle nod of greeting. Like, “Hey there, I know you! You are just my in the moment anxiety rising up.” Maybe give it a small smile and a breath. Observe.
And this does work! But not consistently until you have it wired into your “DNA stress relief mechanisms”.
How do you take random moments of relief into true deep down undeniably better at managing stress and overwhelm?
You need a consistent and systemized way to non-stressfully look at your stress triggers and worries. It takes practice and often an organized program.
Room to Breathe: Rewiring for Ease Online eCourse
That’s what my newest program, Room to Breathe: Rewiring for Ease is about. This 7-week online eCourse goes way beyond the randomness of relief. It actually teaches you how to reduce the amount and intensity of your stress triggers so you don’t have the rising tide of stress and overwhelm that can overtake you.
We don’t ignore the stressors. We remove the ones that can really eat away at you. Instead of feeling drained and depleted at the end of the day, you have more energy and resilience.
This is at the core of my new 7-Week Online program Room to Breathe: Rewiring for Ease program.
There is relief! Read about Room to Breathe and see if it’s a good fit for you.
We are going to have a blast working out the stress kinks and inspiring each other to be the nurses we love to be.
Let’s rock it!
Are you a doctor, social worker or other health professional? Join us. Working together, is so much better! Here’s the link.
Know someone else who is stressed? Share the love and forward this email!