Top Stress Reduction Techniques for Working Long Shifts

Working a long shift in any field can be exhausting but medical professionals face a unique set of challenges that can be both physically and mentally taxing. While you may not be able to change your work schedule,‌ there are several ways to manage your job stress while working a long shift.

Psychological Stress Reduction Techniques

Managing job stress can be broken down into two primary categories, the first of which is psychological. In the medical field, there are a multitude of mental and emotional stressors that can significantly impact your wellbeing. Addressing these causes with proven stress-reduction techniques can reduce or eliminate the impact.

Try Meditation or Controlled Breathing — Stress can get you spun up, so counter it with the calming effects of meditation. Even a few minutes of meditation can make a big difference in your mindset and stress levels. If clearing your mind for meditation seems impossible, try listening to some music or performing controlled breathing exercises to unwind. Meditation is a highly successful stress reduction technique, and there are many apps on the market for guided breathing and meditation exercises that can help you find your happy place.

Identify Your Triggers and Set Up Action Plans — Job-related stress can follow patterns. Do you have problem colleagues, overbooked schedules or unrealistic management issues? Managing job stress starts once you identify your most commonly encountered stressors and consider alternative approaches to handling them. By enacting this approach, you can either change the way you perceive the stressors or modify the outcomes of the events when you next encounter them.

Get support — Are there available mentors that might understand your situation or be able to provide guidance? If so, enlist their help and ask for their advice. If your stress gets to a critical level or seems overwhelming, consider seeking professional treatment for stress reduction techniques that are personalized to your unique situation.

Physical Stress Reduction Techniques

The second method of managing job stress is physical. Working long shifts in healthcare can take a physical toll on your body and impact your daily lifestyle. This increases stress levels outside of the workplace. Embracing physical stress reduction techniques can relieve this strain and improve your quality of life.

Eat Healthy — Eating healthy can positively impact your ability to work a long shift. If you are what you eat, be sure to cut out foods high in sugar and fats. Boost your protein intake and have healthy snacks on the ready to decrease junk food intake. Caffeine intake is also an important dietary factor to consider modifying as part of managing job stress. Try limiting your caffeine intake to before noon, and be sure to monitor how much you are drinking in a day. While it may give you a quick boost of energy, too much can cause you to crash later in the shift. Instead of drinking caffeinated beverages try drinking water instead. To encourage your water intake, take a refillable bottle with you on shift.

Sleep — Adjusting your sleep routine to ensure maximum relaxation is an important stress reduction technique. A lack of sleep can lead to cognitive impairment and losing out on the restorative effects associated with sleep. Be sure to set yourself up for success by ensuring your room is dark and quiet, try earplugs if necessary. Temperatures between 65-70 degrees have been found to enhance sleep so lower your thermostat an hour before bedtime. Most importantly, put your phone on do not disturb and use a blue light blocker if computer use is part of your nighttime routine. These steps will help you fall asleep faster and experience a better quality of sleep.

Exercise — Try to make exercise a regular part of your schedule. Even a few minutes a day can make a difference and can give your body an energy boost to help you finish your shift strong. This energy boost will help manage job stress and let you feel ready to tackle the day.

Pamper Your Body — Proper fitting shoes with supportive inserts can make a real difference for people working on their feet for long hours. Consider wearing compression socks to help reduce leg fatigue and varicose veins.

Managing Job Stress

Utilizing phycological and physical stress-reduction techniques can help to reduce the feelings of stress during those long shifts. If your current position has led to undue stress despite reduction strategies, it may be time to consider a new position. PracticeMatch connects employees with top medical companies throughout the United States. Browse open positions in your field today.