5, 5-Minute Ways for Nurse Practitioners to Unwind

When I get home from working in the ER, I need a few minutes to decompress. I have been talking to strangers nonstop, staring into a twilight zone of fluorescent lights, listening to the incessant bleep bleep of monitors, and have yet to experience even a brief moment of silence. My husband is the same way. Upon arriving home from work, we simply glance at each other across the kitchen and immediately understand not to ask about the other's day...at least not yet. 

After completing some sort of de-stressing tactic, whether it be pouring and taking a few sips of wine, loading the dryer when laundry has been on my mind all day, or turning off the news and enjoying a few moments of silence while I begin to chop veggies for dinner (often all of the above!), I take a few moments to myself every evening. 

Our work as nurse practitioners and NP students can leave us feeling drained. We solve other people's problems and listen to their stories, all under pressure from management to meet the bottom-line. There comes a point when you can no longer take on any more without pausing for a moment to process your thoughts. 

Here are a few of my favorite 5-minute ways to unwind after a tough day on the job (or any day, really!)

1. Go for a quick walk

Given my crazy schedule, I have increasingly less time for exercise. But, going for a quick walk, even if just for 5 minutes, is enough to release some of those feel good endorphins, allow me to breathe deeply, and get a glimpse of sunlight. 

2. Have an at-home mini yoga session

I love yoga, but since it doesn't fall into the category of cardio, I rarely make it a priority in my exercise regimen. Given my poor posture and occasionally stressful job, I hold a lot of tension in my back, neck, and jaw. Since I don't have time to hit the studio, I often do a few quick yoga exercises I find free on iTunes, or bust out a couple of my favorite back-stretching poses (Eagle's the best!). Nothing feels more rejuvenating than getting a few kinks out. 

3. Get some green in your life

Being indoors for extended periods of time drives me crazy. I want to feel the wind in my hair, breathe fresh air, and see a few trees every once in a while. Sitting on your deck or front porch can be the key to getting a little peace and quiet as well as seeing some green- even if it's just a few flower pots. If your outdoor space isn't so relaxing, buy a plant. Research shows that being around plants lowers blood pressure in people who are stressed-out. 

4. Turn off your phone...and your TV...and your music. For real. 

When's the last time you had some true silence? Sitting in stillness and quiet, even if it's at your work desk, can help you push reset and instantly de-stress. Even turning your phone off for 5 minutes gives you a little freedom from the outside world and the time to process your thoughts. 

5. Did someone say foot massage?

I'm no expert in reflexology or Eastern medicine, but there's something about a quick foot or hand massage that makes worries melt away. As nurse practitioners, working on our feet for long shifts can leave our dogs barking. Rubbing tension away provides an excellent de-stressor. 


What are your favorite quick ways to unwind after a long shift?