Nurses are constantly on their feet, completing shifts, running around the hospital and attending to patients. Nurses, we hear your pain. Here are 9 ways to relax after a long and busy day.

1. Soak in the warmth

Warmth is always relaxing. If you choose to partake of a hot drink, a good relaxing technique would be to hold the warm mug, palms flat, in both hands until they have warmed up. Then, cup your warm palms over your eyes, take a few long, deep breaths and release each one slowly. Repeat as many times as needed. On nights where you just want to go straight to bed but want something comforting, use heat pads instead, to warm your aching muscles.

2. Stretch your aching muscles

It is likely that the aches you feel are a result of constricted veins. To release the pain, it may be a good idea to improve circulation by doing a couple of stretches, or by lightly exercising your lower body. Quick leg raises, side raises, or squats allow you to tense and relax different muscle groups.

For optimal results, make use of muscle memory at the same time. Starting from your feet and moving upwards, as you consciously tense and relax each muscle group, visualise that part of you melting. Imagine that you are actually squeezing the tension out, from your toes to your scalp, like paste from a tube. When you get to your scalp, imagine the tension washing out and down over your head and body.

3. Massage therapy

You deserve a break every now and then. Why not pamper yourself with a nice body massage, aroma therapy essential oils and a foot spa? For an at-home DIY, make use of dermal rollers and feet rollers. You could also give yourself a quick foot scrub. To treat yourself, get one of those soak in, electric foot scrubbers that scrubs and massages your toes and heels at the same time.

4. Foot soak

You could try a warm (not hot!) soak with Epsom salt, until the heat dissipates. Magnesium and sulfate in Epsom salt will penetrate your skin and relax the muscles and joints. Another option would be a peppermint or menthol soak: simply add peppermint oil to warm water - the added heat and coolness of the peppermint helps relieve tired feet.

5. Visualisation

Close your eyes and visualise your ‘happy place’ – one which is beautiful, peaceful, and where you feel safe and joyful. Try to involve as many of your senses as you can. Another tactic is to imagine wrapping up each of your stressors, putting them in a box, locking the box, and getting rid of the box.

6. Prevention of physical stress

You may not notice it, but mental stress may be exacerbated by physical stress. You could change your shoes or consider shoe fillers and cushioned socks to ease the pressure your feet gets from standing and walking. Make sure to be choosy and shop for comfort in addition to style - flat shoes alone are not sufficient if they are non-cushioned.

Foot accessories leave your feet better padded and therefore better able to resist the pressure that eventually cause you pain at the end of the day. Compression stockings, which can run the entire length of your lower body or your legs and feet only, may help by keeping the pressure on the legs to prevent fluid leaks and bulged veins which cause aching legs and feet.

A last suggestion is to consciously take breaks off your feet every so often, if you get the opportunity to. Also, raise your legs whenever you can. When seated, move your toes and soles frequently, press against the floor, twist to the sides and turn it around.

7. Acupuncture

Consider an acupuncture massage to help lower levels of stress and anxiety. You might find that acupuncture helps a variety of other illnesses or simply makes your muscles feel better after a long week at work. It is worth exploring for a possible long-term relief from chronic sore feet.

8. Consume honey

What better reward for busy bees than honey? Chemicals in honey have been shown to reduce anxiety and depression levels. Of course, the sweet treat also has the placebo effect going for it, and it is fantastic in tea and smoothies, if you are not a fan of consuming a straight spoonful.

9. Listen to music

‘Music has charms to soothe a savage breast.’ Indeed, music can be a calming tool. Before your shift, during your break or after your shift, listen to songs that will inspire and/or motivate you. From pop to rock, from jazz to alternative – there are so many genres to choose from. MIMS

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