Erin felt relieved her job had been preserved during recent downsizing. Unfortunately, the nursing staff was drastically reduced, leaving Erin as the sole wound ostomy continence nurse for the entire agency. Relief at not losing her job eventually evolved into stress due to the increased workload. Erin delegated where feasible in an effort to create manageable control over her responsibilities, yet time stress occasionally remained an issue. A creative, individually centered approach to coping with stress could help Erin to meet this challenge with personal clarity and equanimity.


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In home care and hospice nursing, time stress is unavoidable. Mindful attention to body movement and breathing can be helpful in easing tension and promoting mental clarity. A method of internally verbalizing simple phrases that affirm core values can sustain personal motivation and decrease stress in the face of pressing external demands. Eight activities may be helpful in reducing work-related stress (see Tips below).


Most working environments have fluctuating stress levels affecting each worker uniquely. The eight activities discussed will not completely abate personal stress; however, when practiced with regularity, they can become a powerful strategy for individuals who wish to focus on calming practices to support deliberate stress reduction on a personal level.




Hendricks, G. (1995). Conscious breathing: Breathwork for health, stress release, and personal mastery. New York: Bantam Books. [Context Link]


Nhat Hanh, T. (1976). The miracle of mindfulness: A manual on meditation. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. [Context Link]


Nhat Hanh, T. (1998, June 16). The art of mindful living. Presented at The Omega Institute retreat, Rhinebeck, NY. [Context Link]


Richmond, L. (2000). Work as a spiritual practice. New York: Broadway Books. [Context Link]

Tips for Reducing Work Stress


1. Feelings of stress and tension are magnified when respiratory effort is located in the upper chest rather than in the diaphragm and abdomen. Soften abdominal muscles and consciously breathe deeply so the abdomen expands with inhalation and relaxes with exhalation (Hendricks, 1995).


2. During the process of sitting down, and also when moving to a standing position, consciously inhale and exhale (Richmond, 2000).


3. While walking, shift your attention to the feet. Feel the sole of each foot as it touches the ground. Inhale during three or four footsteps, and then exhale during four or five footsteps. Use a footstep-to-breath ratio that feels natural (Nhat Hanh, 1976).


4. Try walking at 85% of normal speed. Observe how this slightly decreased pace affects stress level (Richmond, 2000).


5. When walking through a doorway, pause slightly. Step in with the right foot (Richmond, 2000).


6. When using a keypad of any kind, deliberately touch the keys softly. Denote any change in the mood and quality of the activity (Richmond, 2000).


7. While walking, and in time with footsteps, repeat a calming or caring personal belief or value. For example, "I have time to care,""Rushing does not improve productivity," "My comfort is important," or "A peaceful mind nurtures a caring heart." The activity can be simplified by shortening the phrases (e.g., "time enough to care," "rushing is not productivity," "comfort," or "peaceful mind, caring heart.") Create a phrase that contains personal meaning (Richmond, 2000).


8. Choose a cue within the work environment, such as a bell sounding, a door closing, an e-mail alert, package or mail delivery, the sound of a car horn on the street outside, or the laughter of colleagues. Each time the cue occurs, pause and then slowly inhale and exhale three times. Carefully count each breath and then resume work activities (Nhat Hanh, 1998).