07 May

Anxiety washed over him as the healthcare leader stepped up to the podium. He had given speeches before but never to a crowd this large. His heart was racing, and he felt a twinge of nausea as he looked at the sea of faces staring back at him.

He took a deep breath and tried to calm his nerves, but the fear persisted. He knew the importance of his message on patient acuity, and the weight of that responsibility made him feel like he was choking.

His voice wavered as he began to speak, and he stumbled over his words. He felt like he was losing control and was on the verge of giving up.

But then he remembered the breathing exercises and visual imagery techniques he had learned to manage his anxiety. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and imagined himself walking out from behind the podium and greeting each audience member as if they were old friends.

Slowly but surely, he felt the grip of anxiety loosen, and his confidence grew. He opened his eyes and began interacting with the crowd, making eye contact and connecting with each person as he spoke.

As he continued delivering his message, the healthcare leader felt renewed purpose and passion. He was no longer speaking to a faceless crowd but to individuals who shared his commitment to improving patient care.When the speech was over, the healthcare leader felt a sense of relief and pride wash over him. He had faced and overcame his fears; in doing so, he had connected with a thousand people in a way he never thought possible.

So many of us have so much to offer and give. Anxiety, fear, and negative internal thoughts prevent many from sharing their help with the world. Learning medication, self-help, relaxation, and anxiety reduction techniques can be life-changing. In today's fast-paced world, it's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life and forget to take care of ourselves. But investing time to learn these techniques can help improve your physical and mental health and ultimately change your future.

Meditation is a powerful tool for reducing stress and anxiety. It helps calm the mind and body, allowing you to focus on the present moment and let go of worries and distractions. By practicing meditation regularly, you can increase your resilience to stress and improve your overall sense of well-being.

Here are simple meditation techniques that are easy to learn and take 5-minutes to have a profound impact:

 Coherent Breathing is a simple but effective breathing technique that can be used to manage stress and anxiety. Sit in a chair with relaxed posture. Relax your face, jaw, chin, and togue. It involves breathing in and out at a rate of five breaths per minute, equivalent to a six-second inhale and a six-second exhale. This breathing pattern has been shown to increase heart rate variability, reduce blood pressure, and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the "rest and digest" response. Practicing coherent Breathing regularly allows healthcare providers to reduce their stress levels, manage anxiety, and improve overall physical and mental health. A single cycle can increase alpha in the brain and inner-balance. 

The Relaxation Response is a technique that can reduce stress and promote relaxation. It involves sitting quietly in a comfortable position, closing your eyes, and focusing on a word, phrase, or sound. This technique has been shown to reduce heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension, help manage anxiety, and improve overall well-being. Healthcare providers can teach their patients the Relaxation Response as a tool to manage stress and promote relaxation, leading to improved physical and mental health outcomes.

For years, I unknowingly practiced these and other forms of meditation. Although I never knew the correct names or reasons they helped me, I found strength in looking within my soul to solve external problems. I see so many crippled with anxiety, fear, and worry. Often these crippling sensations are baseless due to trivial worries caused by superficial phenomena. Spending a few minutes each day to retrain your brain will change your story that is not written. Tomorrow is not set in stone; you can break free from your internal prison. Here are some of my favorite books and audio-sharing techniques that help control the emotions and internal conditions holding you back. Some of these recommendations share meditation techniques and relaxation methods, and others share how to think more transparently and positively.

#1: The Worry-Free Mind by Carol Kershaw, EdD & Bill Wade, PhD

#2: How to Release Anxiety 9Audibles Original) by Gabrielle Bernstein

#3: New Mindset, New Results by Kerry Johnson, MBA, PhD

#4: The Great Little Book of Afformations by Noah St. John

#5: Rejection proof by Jia Jiang

I was Scared as Hell that Night!

As a nurse, getting through each busy shift can be a challenge. But for those who can check off the boxes, breathe through stress, clearly communicate for help, and stay calm and focused - know that you inspire others. Your ability to remain composed in the face of chaos is a testament to your dedication and professionalism.Your patients rely on you to provide the care they need, and your ability to stay organized and focused allows you to do just that. By breathing through stress and communicating for help, you can provide the best possible care to your patients, even in the most challenging circumstances.

On one evening shift in 1999, the other nurse and I were the only two staff that showed up to work. We shared a unit of 50 residents in a long-term care facility. The nurse looked at me, I was barely 22 years old, and said, "We got this. Yes, we will cut some corners, but I tell you what, residents will be cleaned, fed, and no one will fall!" I looked at her and said, "Show me the way," scared as hell as I followed her. 

We gave nine baths, fed half of the residents, answered bells, and devised creative ways to keep patients safe using activity groupings and alarms. The technology was less advanced then, but we figured it out. I am so grateful that that nurse role-modeled a level of calm professionalism that stuck with me for decades. If we worried, shared anxiety, complained, and spent energy focused on all the what-if possibilities, care would not be completed. Instead, we took action, proved what was possible, and then took steps to help ensure it didn't become a routine.

To anyone feeling like they have to live with crippling anxiety, stress, and fear - know that your life can change for the better. It's normal to feel like there's no way out, but hope always exists. You have the strength and resilience to overcome these challenges and move forward positively.Remember that change takes time and effort, but it is always possible. Seek help from a healthcare provider or therapist who can provide guidance and support in managing your anxiety and stress—practice self-care, such as exercise, healthy eating, and getting enough sleep. Find a support system for loved ones who can offer encouragement and understanding.Above all, know that you are not alone. Many others have gone through similar struggles and have found ways to manage their anxiety and stress. Don't give up hope for a brighter future. Keep pushing forward, one step at a time, and celebrate each small victory. With time, effort, and determination, you can overcome challenges and live a fulfilling life free from crippling anxiety, stress, and fear.

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