de-stress

5 ways to de-stress while on assignment

Starting a new assignment can be exciting – a new adventure for you to embark on! However, it can come with its fair share of stressors. You just started in a new hospital and to everybody else in the department you’re “the traveler.” Whether you are learning a brand new system at your hospital, having to interact with an unfamiliar team, moving into a new apartment, or learning a different city, it’s important to de-stress because it isn’t only a psychological problem. If it is not dealt with, it can lead to physical issues, according to the Mayo Clinic. An overload of stress can lead to headaches, muscle tension and pain, fatigue, sleep problems, and even chest pain. To stay happy and healthy, it’s crucial to learn strategies to de-stress.

#1-Getting regular physical activity

Physical activity is very important; studies say that at least 30 minutes per day is suggested and as long as you hit this time frame, you can actually change the level of chemicals in your brain, like serotonin, endorphins and stress hormones. It is also proven to improve your sleep, reduce the risk of a heart attack, increase your mood, and give you more energy throughout your day. With all of these benefits, regular exercise is a no-brainer. Just remember that you don’t have to go to a gym to get this daily time in. You can go for a jog and experience more of your new environment or do an at-home workout that gets your heart rate up. Things as simple as going on a long walk with your dog can help keep you in a better mental and physical state.

#2-Spending time with family and friends

Family members often offer a form of emotional support that is hard to find elsewhere. It’s not always realistic to spend time with family in person while on assignment. If you can, carve out time to see them. If you can’t spend face-to-face time with the people close to you, then make sure to give them a call either on Skype, Facetime, or just on the phone. Friends are also just as important, whether it’s friends from home or people you met on assignment. Having a support system helps you avoid dealing with stress in unhealthy ways, such as binge eating or alcohol.

#3-Spending time with pets

If you are living someplace that allows animals and you are in the right position to own a pet, having a cat or dog can help make you feel more relaxed. Going back to the first point, they are a great reason to get out and exercise. Owning a dog gives you another reason to go out for walks and even runs. One study done by Karen Allen, Ph.D. of the University of New York at Buffalo states that people experienced less stress when their pets were with them than when a supportive friend or spouse was present. This being potentially because pets don’t judge – they just listen, which means spending time with your pet can be the perfect place to vent and reduce stress in your life. So use this as a reason to go get a furry friend!

#4-Getting plenty of sleep

Following a regular sleep routine can help your body reduce stress. Without solid sleep, you go through the day with low energy and decreased mental clarity. The problem with not getting enough sleep isn’t from only sleeping poorly for one night; it can create a snowball effect. If you don’t sleep well for a few nights in a row and show up to work tired and groggy, you are more likely to make errors, react to situations more emotionally, and be more sensitive to negative stimuli. This will then stress you out even more, which will make it harder to fall asleep and continue to make the problems even worse. You can see how this can really catch up to you if you don’t consciously create a sleep schedule and follow it religiously. Here are a few recommendations that help people fall asleep easier.

  • Making a to-do list for when you wake up. When you are going through your day, you continuously add tasks that you want to get completed. Sometimes all of these things stick in your head while trying to fall asleep. If you write a to-do list before you fall asleep, you don’t have to stress about remembering all the tasks that are taking up space in your mind.
  • Stay clean and organized; clutter can lead to stress.
  • Be consistent. If you are able to go to bed around the same time every day, your body will fall into a natural rhythm that will help you feel more rested and less stressed.
#5-Seeking help from a therapist

Family, pets, and exercise are all fantastic ways to manage your stress; however, they can’t fix everything. Sometimes talking with a professional is the best thing to do. The American Psychological Association suggests considering therapy when something causes distress and interferes with some part of life, particularly with work, school, or relationships, or if your mental state makes you want to avoid people all together. Seeing a therapist is a time where you go and spend an hour or so to work through a problem or feeling you might be having and then receiving a professional opinion to try and help. Most therapists offer a free session or consultation, so take advantage of it!

Tyler Clark is working as an intern for the Cardiopulmonary division of Aureus Medical Group

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