5 Quick Hacks to Reboot After a Long Travel Nurse Shift
To get through the day, we often rely on intellect and the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight). But we can easily engage the parasympathetic nervous system, which signals our body to relax and restore instead.
The more frequently you respond to stress this way, the less conscious effort it takes for it to kick-in the next time you’re in a stressful situation. A few simple shifts could lead to more restful sleep, better digestion, an increase in detoxification and more energy.
Here are five healing hacks for optimal restoration in a flash:
- Reflect on your day on the walk from your facility to your car. Instead of looking for missed opportunities, or things you “should” have done, focus on something positive you did during the day. Ask yourself, “What inspired me today?” Ponder what thing or person unexpectedly uplifted or moved you emotionally during your shift. Our “work” becomes more meaningful and rich when we celebrate the ways we impact others.
- Take five deep cleansing breaths. Breathe in and expand your diaphragm as much as possible. Exhale and soften your entire body. Notice where you hold stress in your muscles and give yourself permission to release it with each exhale. Breathe in for a long count of 5-10 and exhale for the same count. Once you master this sequence, play around and make the exhales even longer than the inhales. This expansion of the diaphragm is specifically designed to stimulate the vagus nerve, which overrides your “flight-flight-flee-freeze” system. A regular deep breathing practice could prevent over-stimulation of cortisol, weight gain and even chronic adrenal fatigue.
- Get grounded. Get outside and get into contact with the Earth. This intentional action allows the negatively charged Earth to serve as a grounding wire for all of your accumulated positive charges. Your electromagnetic field is reset and neutralized by nature. See the research behind it here.
- Get upside down. Fold over your legs so your head is below your heart in a way that does not induce pain. You may want to lean on a table or use a bench for stability. This is safe for most people since you can easily support your upper body in a forward fold. You can also explore many other safe and effective inversions. This provides back pain relief along the small erector spinae muscles that hold your spine upright throughout the day. It shifts fluids, impacts all of your systems and allows the body to reorient itself. You also get to observe and perceive the world from a different point of view— upside down! This opens your mind to move in unfamiliar ways, which can stimulate new neurological pathways.
- Last and certainly not least is to hydrate. We often focus so much on our patients that we may disregard our water intake. But it’s important to maintain adequate fluid balance (think half your body weight in ounces daily) for optimized cellular function. Add real lemon, lime or cucumber slices to your water to increase the antioxidant effects and to help reduce any toxic residues.
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Remember to prioritize yourself whenever you can. Without a healthy YOU working, the hospital doesn’t work. Thank you for reading and please feel free to post your comments or questions.
This wellness tip is brought to you by Heather Keller, Zen RN (RN, BSN, eRYT500, CHTP).