How Can Longer Breaks Help Nurses Avoid Workplace Injuries?
A new study from Finland suggests nurses can receive mental and physical health benefits from taking longer breaks between shifts. According to the study, shift work can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
Researchers found that stress-related injuries and cardiovascular damage could be reduced because long breaks between shifts help the nervous system recover. The nervous system helps regulate healthy blood pressure and heart function.
Stress can cause immediate problems for health care workers as well. Workers with high levels of stress can exhibit symptoms common to many other types of illnesses. Symptoms of high stress can include difficulty concentrating, irritability, and changes in sleep patterns, heart rate and blood pressure. Several of these symptoms may heighten the risk of workplace injuries.
What Can Nurses Do During Breaks To Improve Health?
Additional studies agree with the Finish researchers, and have found ‘mindfulness’ exercises can help nurses lower workplace stress and support healthy nervous system function. In an Ohio State University study, health care workers participated in activities such as yoga, light stretching, meditation and listening to music.
Researchers affiliated with the Ohio State University study found the ‘fight or flight’ response in workers who participated was 40 percent less intense than a control group who did not. In some hospitals throughout the country, mindfulness intervention courses have become a part of the job.
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