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Holistic Practices for Holiday Stress Relief December 2011

Dear Fellow Nurse,

I recently saw some interesting findings about the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) among nurses. A study published in the online version of Health Services Research in August found that 83 percent of nurses useCAM, compared to just 63 percent of the general population.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that so many of us are exploring the benefits of mind-body practices, herbal medicine, chiropractic care, massage therapy, movement therapies and other modalities. From acupuncture to Zen meditation, integrative health practices can lower stress levels and promote healing during the holidays and year round.

In this newsletter you will find a sampling of low or no cost complementary practices that you can easily use at home or at work to help you and your patients relieve anxiety and feel more relaxed. Connect with us on Facebook to share your experiences with integrative health practices and ask questions of one another.

I wish you a peaceful, healthy holiday season and a New Year filled with many happy moments!

Holistic Practices for Holiday Stress Relief December 2011The Gift of Being Present

Have you ever driven all the way home and realized that you have no recollection of the drive? With your body in one place and your mind in another, you are set-up for stress and anxiety. Also, you can lose moments of your day when you are caught up in your thinking rather than living in the present moment.

The practice of mindfulness quiets your mind and calms your emotions. As soon as you notice that your mind has slipped out of the moment, focus on your breath to bring your attention back to the present. Mentally repeat the phrase, “I am breathing in, I am breathing out.” Open up your senses – what do you see, hear, taste, feel and smell? Give yourself the gift of being present!

Relaxing Scents

Aromatherapy, the therapeutic use of inhaled essential oils, has been found to affect states of alertness, relaxation, and healing.

Essential oils such as bergamot, rose otto, lavender, geranium, sandalwood and jasmine are used to reduce anxiety, improve mood and relieve stress.

Simple ways to enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy include massage and bath oils, soaps and soy candles made with essential oils. Avoid products with fragrance oils that contain unhealthy petroleum distillates! Check out this article on the therapeutic effects of aromatherapy from the Journal of Psychosocial Nursing.

The Sound of Music

Have you ever walked into a room and instantly felt calmer? According to Linda Varone, RN, a specialist in architectural psychology, lighting, furniture arrangement, color, sounds and other factors affect how we feel in a space.

Music can be used to promote calmness in our home and work settings as well as provide a screen to soften background noises and to protect privacy in places with poor sound insulation.

For a calm centered feeling, listen to slow harmonious music with an even tempo played at a quiet volume. Linda recommends soft jazz, Boroque, Bach and Mozart. Watch Linda’s nursing CE program for other environmental tips.

Relaxing Yogic Breath

Inhale slowly through your nose to the count of four. Allow the breath to rest lightly in your chest as you count to seven. Then exhale the breath through the mouth slowly and completely while mentally counting from eight down to one. Repeat this pattern (4 – 7 – 8) for several breaths.

Adjust the length of each phase of the breath as needed. Here is information on some other stress relieving breathing exercises.

Head-to-Toe Tension Release

Enjoy the deeply relaxing effects of focusing on one body part at a time with our 20-minute guided body scan. Listen to this CD at bedtime to fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. Buy now for $12.

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