Nurse De-Stressing Tips
Part Three – The Emotions
By Aila Accad, RN, MSN
Click to Read Nurse De-Stressing Tips - Part One – The Body
Click to Read Nurse De-Stressing Tips - Part Two – The Mind
All of our emotions fall under two categories, Love or Fear. Emotional stress comes from the emotions of fear. Anytime we feel threatened by situations we cannot control, fear arises and with it, an emotional response. Fear responses include such feelings as anxiety, frustration, anger, hatred, powerlessness, sadness, grief, depression and a myriad of other feelings.
The purpose of this article is to provide quick tips to address emotional stress now and over time. These tips are useful to understand the unique patterns of stress that affect you. Once you understand where the repeat patterns of stress are you can begin to free yourself of these patterns.
Tip # 1 ~ Observe your symptoms
The early warning system for emotional stress is in the body. Observing the patterns of stress symptoms in your body can help you detect emotionally stressful situations quickly. Symptoms vary from person to person; yet tend to be consistent in each of us. Are you prone to headaches, backaches, or stomachaches? Perhaps, you feel shakiness in your arms, legs, abdomen, stomach or heart. Temperature changes as heat or coolness, sweaty palms or feet can also be signals that something is not quite right in a situation.
Once you identify your unique body reactions to stress, you can take action to address the early emotional stress symptoms before the reaction becomes unbearable or debilitating or before you say or do something you regret.
Emotions are neither good nor bad; they are an early warning system that alerts you to danger. De-stressing emotional issues requires awareness. Pay attention to your emotional symptoms rather than ignoring, judging, wishing away, or medicating them. This is the first step in understanding and taking action to reduce emotional stress.
Why it works ~
Your body always tells the truth and attunes to subtle elements in a situation. When some element in a situation reminds the body of a danger experienced in the past, it sends an immediate message to the nervous system. The nervous system creates a stress response to ready the body for battle or to run. This is your unique ‘Fight’ or ‘Flight’ response. The response activates your nervous system making you physically ready to handle the dangerous situation.
The body readies a physical response, even when the danger is about an emotional fear. Fear of someone’s disappointment, lack of recognition, making a mistake, or other emotionally charged feelings can summon the physical fear response.
The sooner you recognize your fear response, the sooner you can address it and return your body to a relaxed state. Being on alert for long periods, wears out the body. Some examples of long-term emotional wear and tear include ulcers, headaches, backaches, heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.
Tip # 2 ~ Address the underlying fear
Ask the questions, “What am I afraid of?” or “In what way do I feel something in the situation is outside my control?” Then, address the real fear or control issue. For example, if you have a fear of making a mistake in a situation, you can ask for help, refresh your skill in that area by reading or practicing, or reassure yourself by remembering all the times you did this task successfully.
Sometimes the underlying fear is not obvious. Assess the elements in the situation. Are some or all of these elements present at other times when you feel stressed? Is there a particular type of personality or situation that consistently stresses you? Look for patterns. These can be clues to reveal underlying fears.
Often, the original stressor is a memory from childhood that the body is still signaling as a fearsome situation even though as an adult, you are completely capable of handling it. In these situations, the stress response may not seem logical, yet your body is giving you stress signals.
Why it works ~
We are beings of habit. Observing and understanding our consistent habit patterns helps us to understand where our past conditioning is inhibiting flexibility and freedom of choice.
Tip # 3 Take Control of Choices
Take a deep breath, feel your feet on the ground. Taking control of your own energy and ground are the first steps to realizing you do have control over your reactions and your choices in the situation. You may not have control over a change in your work assignment for example, yet you can control your choice of how to approach it and how you choose to think or feel about the change. Every apparent crisis also has within it the opportunity to learn or try something new.
Why it works ~
Within any situation, there are elements within your control. Breathing, thinking, feeling and personal actions are within your control. When you start with a focus on controlling the elements you can control, the things outside your control become more emotionally manageable.
Tip # 4 ~ Tap on it!
One of the most efficient and effective ways to deal with immediate emotional stress is to tap on certain acupressure points. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is simple, powerful and the best technique I have ever found for immediate stress reduction.
There are four parts to this technique: Identify the symptom or stressor and its intensity, set up the issue, tap on the acupressure points and integrate the resolution. There is a video demonstration of these steps on the web site at the end of this article.
Step 1 - Identify the specific stressor - tension in the right shoulder, shakiness in the abdomen, fear of making a mistake doing ____, anger at Dr __ for saying ____.
Assign a number on a scale of 0 (low)-10 (high) indicating the intensity level you feel.
Step 2 – Set up the issue - While tapping on the edge of your palm (on either hand, where you would chop a karate board), say (aloud if possible), “Even though I have this (name the specific issue), I deeply and completely accept myself.” Repeat the phrase 3 times.
Step 3 – Tap on the Points –Top of the head (fontanel area), Eye brow, side of the eye, under the eye (all eye points are on the orbital bone), under the nose, in the chin groove, on the collar bone, on the side of the body (about 2 inches below the axilla). The stress is often reduced or may be gone just tapping the face/body points. If not, go on to tap the finger points (the side of the finger about where the nail and skin meet) the thumb, first finger, middle finger, baby finger. Use either hand - either side of the body. Reassess your intensity level.
Step 4 – Integrate the Resolution – Using four fingers tap in the groove on the back of your hand between the knuckles of the ring finger and baby finger while you do these movements: Close your eyes, open your eyes, without moving your head – look down hard to the left and right, roll your eyes clockwise and counterclockwise, hum briefly, count to 5 and hum briefly again. Reassess your intensity level.
You can do these steps several times until the physical stress reaction subsides. You may want to learn more about this technique or consult a practitioner to use it most effectively.
Why it works ~
We are energy beings. Energy moves through the energetic meridians of the body. This is the basis for acupuncture and other energy techniques. When energy is stuck, you have a physical or emotional response. Tapping on the junctures of these meridians loosens the stuck energy so you feel more relaxed.
Emotional Stress drains your energy and wears out the body. Being aware of your early physical symptoms of emotional stress, understanding your underlying fear, taking control of yourself and tapping on your energy meridians are all effective ways to reduce emotional stress.
© 2008 Aila Accad
Next – Nurse De-Stressing Tips – Part Four – The Spirit
Aila Accad, RN, MSN
is an award-winning
Advanced EFT Practitioner
and Expert in
Nurse De-Stressing and Leadership
. She would love to hear how these de-stress tips are helping you, and areas in which you would like more information.
Contact Aila for speaking, workshops, retreats and personal coaching or get more tools for De-Stressing like
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