July 20th, 2012
By Jennifer Olin, BSN, RN
Stress. Everybody’s got it. It’s how you handle it that determines your success on any given day.
Now, I start my days fairly early. One of the first things I do is check in with the world. My friend Dayna Steele, whose new book I told you about recently on this site was a source of inspiration for my morning routine. Before her book she wrote a popular blog, “5 Things To Do Every Day for Success.” I don’t get all five in yet but number 2 I do every day.
”2. Read the headlines and watch the news. Not only should you know what is going on in the world, you will also be the first to recognize opportunities (if you followed #1) for you and your business–long before the competition has even had their first cup of coffee.”
So, in that vein, I was reading my local newspaper on line when I came across this little story—it was about a nurse. I think this woman let the stress of her job and life drive her over the edge.
Mary Lucille Gutierrez is an ex-school nurse who will be spending 10 years in prison for setting her school on fire.
Most importantly, no one was injured in the pre-dawn blaze last year that caused about $2 million in damages at Speegleville Elementary School in Woodway, TX (near Waco).
Gutierrez pled guilty to the charges and besides prison she was fined $10,000. Investigators say Gutierrez hoped the fire would lead to a transfer for her or the administrator behind her poor review.
Yes, you just read that right. She set fire to the school because of a bad review. Wow. That’s stressed out.
And, that’s what got me thinking. She was a school nurse. We all know that is one of the most stressful nursing jobs around these days. However, most nursing jobs ride that stress rollercoaster. We are responsible to our patients and their families, to our managers and our institution, to our coworkers and every year we await the results of some annual evaluation to find out if we are going to get a raise as recognition for our hard work. That’s a lot.
I assume most of us became nurses because we wanted to. Whether to work in healthcare, or to help others, or to cement a solid career with job opportunities everywhere, we chose nursing. Most of us weren’t even out of school before we recognized that it can often be a stressful career path.
To be successful you have to fight the stress. Before you burn down a building I have a few suggestions for lightening that load.
”Aerobic exercise of any kind has the power to calm jangled nerves and improve bad moods,” say the experts at Prevention magazine. “And when it's done every day, it can enhance self-esteem and combat depression. Indeed, research has shown that a brisk 20- to 30-minute walk can have the same calming effect as a mild tranquilizer.
I found this great website “tiny buddha: simple wisdom for complex lives.” One writer offered four great tips for relieving stress by slowing down.
”Laughter has known physiological effects, including the flushing of stress hormones like cortisol and the release of "positive" hormones like endorphins. Laughter calms the nervous system, reduces stress, oxygenates the brain, vital organs and cells, and contributes to a sense of overall well-being,” RN, Coach, and ,Laughter-Yoga Leader Keith Carlson told me. “Laughter with another person engenders a sense of camaraderie and community, especially when coupled with eye contact. Laughter can also take you out of your "left brain" during stressful moments, and allow you to discharge tension without discounting the actual stressor or situation. Laughter is good medicine, and can only help when the going is tough,” Carlson added. That's Carlson, the founder of Laughter Yoga, Dr Madan Kataria, and Carlson's wife, Mary Rives, showing us how it's done, at right.
Stress takes its toll on everyone. The economy, the job, traffic, the kids, the dog, ADLs (activities of daily living): they all combine to raise our stress levels and exhaust us.
So, before you burn down a building or yell at your spouse, before you call in sick because that headache just won’t go away, take a step back. Or take about 30 minutes of steps forward, slow it down, and laugh it off. In fact, if you are looking for laughs, you may want to check out laughteryoga.org, where people can find a free or low-cost LY club near you. There are more than 7000 clubs in over seven countries.
Nothing is worth prison time or even having to apologize to loved ones because the stress of being a nurse overwhelmed the joy of it.