Working as a nurse is a rewarding but sometimes grueling job. After 12 hours of trying to keep your patients happy (and alive), you are both physically and mentally exhausted. If you don’t take the time to de-stress after work, you may find yourself unable to relax and go to sleep. In the long run, you could experience burnout or even health complications due to stress.

Here are five ways that you can unwind after a long day of work:

1. Meditate.

Meditating can be a great way to clear your mind after work. If you’ve never meditated before, try closing your eyes and taking 5 deep breaths, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Focus on each breath and how it feels entering and leaving your body. Imagine that with every exhale, you are releasing all of the stress and tension in your body, and with every inhale, you are feeling more and more relaxed.

2. Write.

Let your pen do the talking after a stressful day at work. It doesn’t matter what you write about, just start writing and let your mind and your pen wander. You may find yourself making a list, writing random thoughts, or describing your day. Focusing your hands on a simple task will help your mind and body to relax. If you’re not into writing, try coloring or doodling.

3. Pamper yourself.

Channel your inner diva and take some time to pamper yourself. You deserve it! Apply a face mask, soak in a bubble bath, or maybe even splurge on a massage. If spa time isn’t your thing, go out to dinner at a fancy restaurant or stay in and rent a movie. However you decide to pamper yourself, make sure you thoroughly enjoy it and soak up every minute of your self-care time.

4. Exercise.

Exercising is a great way to burn off (literally) your frustrations and de-stress after a day at work. It doesn’t matter what type of exercise you do, as long as it is something you enjoy. While you are working out your body, your mind will be processing the events and emotions of the day. By the time you are finished with your workout, your mind will feel clear and ready to take on the rest of the day.

5. Talk to someone.

Sometimes the most valuable thing you can do for yourself after a difficult day is to talk about it. It may seem counterintuitive to relive the events that caused you stress, but it will actually help you process your emotions and relieve the tension that you are feeling. Find someone who is a good listener who will simply be there for you while you vent. After you are finished discussing your day, don’t think about it anymore!

Sarah Cruzan, BSN, RN

Sarah Cruzan is a nurse on a Family Maternity Unit.

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