sad woman curled on couch talking on phone
Profiles and Features January 14, 2021

By Moira K. McGhee, contributor

4 Ways to Release Emotions After Tough Nursing Shifts

Probably from the day you started, you knew nursing wasn't an easy profession and there were going to be days when your emotions would get the best of you. Whatever emotions you're feeling, for whatever reason, keeping it bottled up inside isn't good for your mental health and well-being. Everyone handles feelings differently, but one of these four ways to release emotions after tough nursing shifts might work for you.

1. Have a good vent session

Mental Health America (MHA) suggests a good healthy venting session for when you're angry. Venting to someone you trust isn't the same as asking for help, and it's often something you're used to doing anyway. Just talk to your friend naturally about whatever has upset you, and afterwards, you might feel the emotional tension leave. Venting can also sometimes help when you're sad because anger often goes with grief. After you vent your anger, you might need a good cry to completely release all your emotions.

2. Write it all down

If you're not comfortable venting aloud or there's no one available for you to talk to right now, MHA says try venting on paper. Write a letter to the person who upset you, putting into words everything you'd like to say to them. Keep the letter for a few days, and then, tear it up into little pieces and throw it away. Release your emotions as the paper filters through your fingers into the trash. Avoid using social media or email when you're highly emotional because you might be tempted to write something that you'll later regret.

3. Exercise your emotions

Even if you're not into fitness, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America says exercising may be the single most recommended coping method suggested by healthcare professionals. Exercise has numerous physical benefits, and it provides numerous mental benefits and can reduce emotional stress. A workout, even of low to moderate intensity, could be just what you need to exercise away those emotions. Exercising causes your body to release endorphins, which reduces pain and may produce a euphoric feeling. Exercise also helps you sleep better, which is important to relieve stress and anxiety.

4. Just breathe

Decompressing could literally be just taking several deep, cleansing breaths until you feel better. You could also take your breathing methods a step further and practice meditation. Yoga and tai chi are also excellent pursuits that combine stretching, meditation and breathing. According to a study by the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, tai chi has positive effects on your psychological well-being, including reduced depression, anxiety and stress. Yoga works much the same way and both can provide the healthy mind-body balance you really need after a particularly tough shift.

Compassionate care is a must for patients, but it can be emotionally demanding and take a tough toll on nurses. Should your efforts to release your emotions fail and you struggle to cope, it's okay to ask for help, even if this means seeking out a mental health professional.

 

Sources:
https://www.mhanational.org/helpful-vs-harmful-ways-manage-emotions
https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/other-related-conditions/stress/physical-activity-reduces-st
https://www.annafreud.org/on-my-mind/self-care/letting-off-steam/
http://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-mind/mind-body/article/mind-body-exercise-tai-chi-and-yoga
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12529-013-9351-9

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