Bent Out of Shape After a Nursing Shift? Stretch Yourself to Wellness

By Alice Burron on Mon, Dec 16, 2013

nursing shiftIf your mind continues to race through the day’s events and issues after a tiring nursing shift, try this quick and easy health routine. It will help you and your mind switch gears so that you can improve your wellness, enjoy your time off, and re-energize.

See for yourself: Write down your stress level—on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest—and then follow this routine. You will find that it really brings down your stress level!

  1. Listen to music and breathe deeply.

    Can music calm a soul? Yes! During your commute home, turn on your iPod or play your favorite CD and enjoy. Instead of music, you can also listen to an inspiring or humorous podcast. While listening, take several deep breaths from down low in your diaphragm. Let those breaths represent the issues of the day and envision the stress leaving the body with each exhale.

  2. Eat and drink something light and refreshing.

    Your eating habits can have a lot to do with your stress level. It's best to keep handy fruits and vegetables you can enjoy that won’t leave you feeling guilty. Enjoy it with a hydrating beverage like water or even hot or cold tea with lemon. You can also have bubbly water with an orange wedge.

  3. Stretch.

    Switch into comfortable clothing. Then take five to ten minutes and work out the kinks in your neck, back and legs. This winding down strategy is perfect to soothe the tiredness from all that lifting during your nursing shift. When done while listening to soothing music, it will produce amazing results. There are four stretches listed here, but feel free to add your own.

  • Stretch 1 - Pouring

    Start by standing with proper posture, arms at your side and palms facing back. Inhale deeply and bring both arms slightly forward as you raise them out to the sides, keeping your palms facing back. Raise your arms no higher than shoulder level. Exhale and lower your arms. Repeat several times.

  • Stretch 2 - Washing your back

    Stand with proper posture. Hold a strap or belt in your right hand and raise your arm above your head.  Bring your right hand down behind your head and grab the dangling end of the strap with your lower hand.  Raise your right hand up as high as possible, lifting the lower hand, but staying pain-free. Hold position for a few breaths. Then, pull gently down with the lower hand to bring down the higher hand.  Hold the position through a few deep breaths. Switch sides and repeat.

  • Stretch 3 - Calf and hamstring stretch

    Stand behind a chair, placing both hands on the back of the chair. Keeping your heel down, slide your right leg as far back as you can. Bend your left knee until the desired stretch is felt in the calf area. Hold this stretch through a few deep breaths, then switch sides and repeat. Do several sets.

  • Stretch 4 - Quad stretch

    Stand with proper posture facing a chair. Place one hand on chair if needed. Loop a belt or strap around your right ankle and bring your right heel toward your bottom. Keep both knees as close together as possible.  Gently pull your heel closer to your bottom, using the back of a chair for balance if necessary. Hold this stretch through a few deep breaths. Switch sides and repeat. For an intermediate challenge, try this without the strap by grabbing the ankle with your hand.  For an advanced challenge, reach with unused arm toward the sky.

  1. Laugh.

    When you’re done with stretching, help your mind switch gears even further by finding something that makes you laugh. Nothing gets your mind thinking pleasant thoughts faster than laughter. Whether it’s a few pages of a funny book, a funny nursing story, a favorite light-hearted television show, or even your kid’s antics, give yourself freedom to laugh and let go of the nursing shift’s events.

Kudos! You’ve completed this stress-busting routine. Please share your thoughts and success stories!

About the Author: Health and fitness expert Alice Burron knows nurses don't always care for themselves as they should.  If you are interested in making a change and getting fit, visit her at 2BFIT.net.

Nurses and nursing students, if you are interested in sharing your nursing knowledge and experiences with our audience by becoming a NurseTogether contributing author, please click here.

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