Vitality

Nurses Know How To Relieve Stress: Mindfulness Meditation, Yoga Lower Levels By 40%

reducing stress
Finding time at work to focus on mindfulness, meditation, gentle stretching, and yoga can decrease your stress levels significantly. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

The things we stress about are always going to be there, especially at work. But the way we react to these daily stresses can make an enormous difference in our overall health and happiness.

A new study testifies to this notion. Led by researchers at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, the research found that relaxation interventions at a highly stressful workplace decreased stress levels among employees. The study focused on members of a surgical intensive care unit who were routinely exposed to some pretty high-pressure — and often upsetting — situations. For eight weeks, the participants underwent interventions at work that had them practice mindfulness, gentle stretching, yoga, meditation, and listening to music.

Researchers measured psychological and biological markers of stress, such as the amount of cortisol in the saliva, one week before and one week after the intervention. They found that the levels of salivary [alpha]-amylase, which are indicative of the activation of the fight or flight response, decreased significantly after the intervention compared to the control group who had no intervention.

“Our study shows that this type of mindfulness-based intervention in the workplace could decrease stress levels and the risk of burnout,” Maryanna Klatt, associate clinical professor at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center and an author of the study, said in the press release. “What’s stressful about the work environment is never going to change. But what we were interested in changing was the nursing personnel’s reaction to those stresses. We measured salivary alpha amylase, which is a biomarker of the sympathetic nervous system activation, and that was reduced by 40 percent in the intervention group.”

Klatt notes we often talk about stress and burnout, but little is really known about managing and coping with it.

“People who are subjected to chronic stress often will exhibit symptoms of irritability, nervousness, feeling overwhelmed; have difficulty concentrating or remembering; or having changes in appetite, sleep, heart rate and blood pressure,” Dr. Anne-Marie Duchemin, research scientist and Associate Professor Adjunct at Wexner Medical Center, said in the press release.

If you’re suffering from chronic stress, take the steps to reduce it in the workplace before it damages your cellular health by shortening telomeres, or negatively impacts your emotional/psychological health.

Meditation has been shown, time and time again, to hold the key to stress reduction; simply find a quiet spot at work or outside your office where you can take a peaceful walk and meditate. If you can fit in time to exercise before or after work, or you can learn to take 10 to 30 minutes every day to focus on mindfulness, you can too learn to battle the ill effects of stress. To watch a video describing the study in more detail, go here.

Source: Duchemin A, Steinberg B, Marks D, Vanover K, Klatt M. “A Small Randomized Pilot Study of a Workplace Mindfulness-Based Intervention for Surgical Intensive Care Unit Personnel: Effects on Salivary α-Amylase Levels. Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine. 2015.

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