Night Shift Stress Management: 20 Ways To Cool Your Jets

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Stress management techniques are an essential asset for every night shift worker. Your night shift job puts added strain on your health and mental well-being. Knowing ways to lower your feelings of stress could be a real lifesaver.

In this article, I’ll show you 20 ways for you to manage your stress. You’ll learn:

  • Procedures that are designed to help you decrease your feelings of anxiety, anger, or fear when a stressor shows up unexpectedly. I call these “In the Moment” techniques.
  • Methods to incorporate into your daily or weekly routine to provide a decompression period for those reoccurring stressors. These techniques will help lessen the impact of the stress you can’t avoid.
  • Lifestyle changes you can make that will improve your ability to manage your stress levels. This step will involve evaluating your diet and exercise, as well as relationships and social factors.

Managing your stress begins with learning how to respond to, rather than react to the stressful event. Responding to your stress involves awareness and preparation. Reacting, on the other hand, includes your instinctual behavior associated with the emotion your stress elicits.

In-the-moment techniques are designed to help you keep calm and think clearly. These techniques provide you with a brief moment of time to separate your emotional reaction from the stressor in order to prevent panicked thinking. When used properly, in-the-moment techniques will guide your focus and channel your energy into problem-solving mode.

1. Deep Breathing

This method uses a slow countdown to help you stay focused on the long, deep inhales and exhales. Clear thinking relies on your brain receiving enough oxygen through steady deep breaths. In addition, your heart rate will calm faster by using this in-the-moment technique.

  • Take a long, slow inhale through your nose.
  • Keep breathing in until your lungs and abdomen are fully extended.
  • Pause briefly before slowly exhaling out of your mouth.
  • Repeat the steps until you’ve reached a count of ten deep breaths.

As a nurse, I use to escape into the storeroom when I got stressed. This allowed me to take some deep breaths alone to regain feelings of control.

2. Focused Visualization

This stress management technique redirects your thinking to guide you towards a solution. It can be used in one of two ways. With focused visualization, you can either solve a problem or reduce feelings of anxiety and stress.

As a problem-solving tool, focused visualization works out the dilemma in reverse.

  1. You start by visualizing the result needed.
  2. Once you have a clear picture in mind of how the problem looks solved, focus on how to reach that result.
  3. As you’re thinking, the tools and resources needed to get the job done will become clear.
  4. Then, you contemplate what it takes to obtain the necessary equipment, money, or resources to complete the task.

Focused visualization can also help you to regain calmness after being hit by a surprise stressor. You can use this technique to reduce feelings of stress quickly. It works in the same manner as an extended meditation session but only takes 30 seconds to achieve results.

You will need two predetermined thoughts for this method of focused visualization.

  • Step 1 – Your favorite spot where you feel most at ease or enjoy relaxing. This could be a place from your memory like the time you went to that beach or your ideal camping locale. Choose a place where you feel your best and that brings a vivid picture to mind.
  • Step 2 – Your positive self-talk statement. Mind over matter can be a powerful tool and works great for stress management. When creating your positive self-talk statement, keep it short and simple. It will be used in the form of a slow chant so you don’t want to be rushing through a long sentence. Aim for between 5 to 7 words in length.
  • Example positive self-talk statements:
    • I am great at ___________.
    • My ________ has/have been successful.
    • I am able to create ________.
    • My best quality is __________.
  • Once you’ve decided upon your place of tranquility and your positive self-talk statement, you’re ready to utilize focused visualization.
    • Imagine you’re in that perfectly calming environment.
    • Focus on the sounds you hear there, the smells of that air, and the vivid colors of the serene environment in your imagination.
    • Take a deep inhale through your nose.
    • Hold for just a moment.
    • As you exhale, slowly recite your positive self-talk statement. If out loud isn’t an option, then say the words in your mind.
    • Repeat for a total of ten deep breathing positive self-talks.

3. Journal Down a Plan of Action

This technique helps you map out a solution for how to deal with the stressor. Be as detailed as possible as you write to spark ideas for what to do. Identify the source of your stress by addressing the:

  • who
  • what
  • when
  • where
  • why
  • how

Factor in the role you play with regard to the manifestation of the stressor by looking at:

  • Are there changes you can make to prevent the stressor?
  • Do you have co-workers, friends, or family to talk to about stress?
  • What signs are there, if any, that precede the stressor?
  • How will you know the stressor has been handled?
  • What aspects of the stressor are out of your control?

By writing down the answers to as many of these questions as you can, you’ll begin to get ideas for how to resolve the stressors in your life.

You’ll see what impacts your stress levels the most, be it a certain person, a specific time of day, or the way they rearranged your favorite grocery store. Journaling can be a great way for you to look for the answer to the questions you didn’t consider asking.

This leather journal from Amazon is a great place to start your writing.

4. Relaxation and Massage Techniques

Stress creates tension throughout your body and can lead to pain and potential injuries. You can relieve a significant amount of muscle tension with four simple techniques. They don’t require any special equipment and can be done while sitting at your desk or even in your car.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Developed in the 1920s by Dr. Edward Jacobson, Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) alternates between flexing and relaxing each group of muscles in your body.

  • You begin the series of muscle-flexing and relaxing with your facial muscles and jaw.
  • You continue to progress down the body focusing on each group of muscles.
  • Once you have finished working your face and jaw muscles, proceed to flex and relax your neck, shoulder muscles, and arms all the way to your fingertips.
  • Follow that with your back, buttocks, and legs.
  • Finish with the flexing and relaxing of your ankles, feet, and toes.

5. Auricular Acupressure

Dr. Paul Nogier mapped out the system of reflexes that connect points on your ear to every part of your body. His theory of reflexes and pressure points became the technique of auricular acupressure. You can use this style of acupressure to relieve tension throughout your body and improve your level of energy.

6. Hand Massage

Another popular acupressure location to help you reduce stress is in your hands. You can relieve the tension that builds up in your neck and shoulders with a simple massaging of your hands. Adding a hand massage using essential oils or scented lotions to your routine will be beneficial to your skin as well.

7. Foot Massage

You can get the benefits of a professional masseur for your feet with just a few minutes and a golf ball. While seated in a chair, roll each foot, one at a time, back and forth over a golf ball. Using a golf ball provides you with a small ball of solid resistance to press against for maximum pressure and minimal effort.

Related post: How to Relieve Foot and Leg Pain from Standing All Day

8. Calm Quiet, Cold Water, and Dark Chocolate

One stress-relieving method you can try that doesn’t take up much time is finding five minutes of quiet time. Locate a place where you can be alone and away from noise and distractions. Spend five minutes clearing your mind of any thoughts to reduce the stress your thinking is likely exacerbating.

Cold water applied to your wrists or behind your ears can literally cool your jets. Both of these locations of your body have arteries that are close to the surface of the skin. Applying cold water or a cold compress to either of these places will help lower your body temperature as well as your temper.

Meanwhile, eating an ounce of dark chocolate is a sweet way to mellow out your jangled nerves. You’ll receive the benefits of dark chocolate’s ability to regulate the stress hormone, cortisol. Plus, dark chocolate can help you with stabilizing your metabolism and it’s loaded with antioxidants.

9. Scheduled Maintenance for Managing Stress

Your best defense against feeling stressed requires a good offense using stress management techniques. Adding one or more of these self-maintenance tools to your daily and weekly routines will provide more balance to your stress levels. Taking care of yourself regularly builds up your mental and physical strength to handle unexpected stressors with more ease.

10. Me Time

You know when you’re scheduled to work, when you have time to eat, and what time you go to bed. But how much time out of your day do you spend taking care of just you? Including a 15-minute window of “me time” each day can provide a healthy dose of stress decompression.

  • Thoroughly read a chapter or two from that book you’ve been neglecting
  • Leisurely enjoy your favorite snack with a healthy hydrating beverage
  • Take a short stroll through the neighborhood to get some fresh air and exercise
  • Discover a hobby that you can spend small windows of time like jigsaw puzzles or model kits of cars, planes, etc

11. Honey

Sweetening up your daily routine is easy by adding a stress-reducing spoonful of honey to your daily diet. This wonder of nature comes loaded with health benefits. Honey provides moisture for healthier skin, and nutrition for your body, and works as a natural antibiotic and anti-inflammatory agent.

12. Yoga

Incorporating a few yoga sessions into your weekly schedule can build your physical endurance and relieve built-up tension from stress. You can find short sessions online or build your own set of exercises to fit your specific needs and goals. Yoga paired with relaxing music can provide you with 20-30 minutes of meditative tranquility to get your mind and spirit back in the game.

13. Podcasts and TED Talks

Make time to watch motivational speakers or listen to inspirational podcasts once a week. You can find boosts of encouragement, fresh ideas, or even learn a new skill. Today’s popular TED Talks have grown beyond their original theme of technology, entertainment, and design to provide you with the latest innovations on just about any subject

14. Support System

Set aside time each week for reaching out to your friends and family. Keeping connected to others provides a support system of people you can count on. Sometimes just having an ear to listen to your stressors can replenish your spirit and reduce feeling stressed. Talking to someone else can also help you reassess your options for handling the stressor.

VIDEO – Night Shift Relationships: How To Not Ruin Them

15. Lifestyle Changes for Reducing Stress

You’re likely never going to be able to completely eliminate stress from your life. That’s why it is so important for you to manage the stress factors you do have power over. Making healthy life choices will provide you with a stronger foundation for recovering from the stresses knocking you down.

Evaluate your situation to determine if any of the following factors need to be addressed to reduce the stress in your life:

16. Sleep

Approximately one-third of your life is spent sleeping so it’s no wonder getting enough must be important for health and well-being. Sleeping plays a vital role in giving your mind and body the time it needs for repairs, memory storage, and biological processes. Without enough sleep, you’re stress levels rise because of irritability and difficulty thinking clearly.

if you’re struggling to sleep, here are a few of our favorite sleep aids.

We love the Manta Eye Mask! Get your here
Dan wearing swannies reading
Blue Light Blocking glasses – See the entire range here

17. Healthy Eating Habits

Your food choices can help or hinder your ability to manage the stress in your life. Monitoring your sugar and caffeine intake will provide better stability to your mood. Choosing the right combination of foods will do wonders for maintaining steady levels of energy to get you through your night shift.

Hungry? 10 Healthy Snacks Ideal for Hungry Night Shift Workers ​

If you are looking for more, we rely on SuperGreen TONIK. It’s a powdered green juice that is full of good stuff to get you going (no matter the time of day or night!) read our full review here.

18. Time Management

Learn how to properly manage your time to reduce the chances of a stressful encounter. Start by prioritizing your tasks based on the level of difficulty. By tackling your most difficult problem first, your biggest worry will be resolved. Then you’ll feel less stressed as you move on to the next task on your to-do list.

19. Meditation and Exercise

Your best tools for staying strong against stress are meditation and exercise. Practicing the art of meditation trains you to be consciously present for clearer thinking. Exercise increases your physical endurance. Together, these stress managing techniques promote heart health.

20. Break Bad Habit

As you evaluate how you spend your time, you may discover some unhealthy habits that may be part of your stress. It wasn’t long ago that doctors suggested relieving stress with cigarettes and alcohol. Now, however, everyone knows that both alcohol and nicotine only contribute to feeling stressed out and anxious.

VIDEO – Are Night Shifts Bad For You? Stop Them Ruining Your Health

In Summary, making just a few changes in your daily, weekly, and monthly routines can have a dramatic effect on your ability to handle life’s stressors.

Try new things, explore alternative options, and map out the routine your situation needs.

Living your life stress-free is often a matter of properly preparing in order to manage what life throws at you!


Disclosure: This page may contain affiliate links, meaning we receive a commission if you decide to make a purchase through our links, but this is at no additional cost to you. Please read our disclosure and privacy statement for more info.

Emma @ The Other Shift

Hey there! I'm Emma Smith a passionate, Registered Nurse from Australia. Together with my husband Daniel, we run The Other Shift. Our sole aim is to help shift workers and those on unusual schedules find balance between work and life. I understand the challenges of fitting in exercise, maintaining relationships and getting enough quality sleep, but I'm excited to show you that it’s possible to do shift work and still thrive. Read more about us and our story here.

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