The Stress Response

Last week at work I was dealing with a difficult situation. A patient wanted to make a complaint about me, personally, and even though there was nothing to it, I still felt an enormous amount of stress. I remember going into the bathroom and watching the hives break out on my neck and creep up my face. This happened one other time in nursing school, so badly that I had to leave clinical early and go to the doctors, afraid I was having an allergic reaction.

Now I know that when I break out in hives it really is my body telling me that I’m under stress. It’s kind of embarrassing that anyone who notices can point it out and say, “What’s that? Did you use some kind of new lotion or laundry detergent?…” Anyway, I tried to hide it underneath my shirt, pulling it up as far as it would go, but it was still pretty noticeable. I took a deep breath and left the bathroom to go face the patient and the rest of my shift. I still had about 3 to 4 hours left of an already bad day.

As a nurse, I think it’s important to realize the stress reaction is happening before it gets too out of hand. This is the point when you can say or do something you regret, because of the pressure. I discovered that there is now a tracker you can wear, like a FitBit, called Spire. It measures respirations and tells you if you are feeling tense. It can tell you when you need to take a break or meditate. I feel like this would be a good reminder for me, as I am always going about 100mph at work. Health professionals recommend Spire for their clients, but what about for us? If you’ve tried Spire or something like this let me know in the comments!