Manage Stress

Employees are our most valuable asset. It’s because of your hard work and dedication that MaineHealth ranks high as one of the leading healthcare organizations in the country.

This page provides you, our employees, with educational topics, relaxation practices, and additional resources that can help you to increase your ability to live happier and healthier – even with the stressors of everyday life. These simple suggestions are designed to increase resiliency and lessen the stress related to the complex and challenging environment of working in healthcare. Spending only a few minutes each day can bring about noticeable positive results in both your personal and professional life.

Understanding stress

Stress is something that we all experience at times – it’s the body’s hard wired response to difficult or challenging situations. There are two types of stress: acute stress and chronic stress.

Acute stress

Acute stress is when we are in immediate danger or have an urgent concern. At times like this, the body secretes certain hormones that can help us.

Chronic stress

Chronic stress is when we constantly worry about past or future events that are out of our control. In the long term, the on-going release of these stress hormones and the chemical changes that they produce in the body can contribute to serious health risks. These risks can include: heart disease, a weakened immune system, weight gain, increased anxiety and depression, the inability to focus and concentrate, and sleep difficulties.

Assessing your stress

There are many tools that can help you measure the stress you are experiencing in life, and help you know if it is a problem that is impacting your overall health and well-being. Below are a few of these resources:

What is mindfulness?

Practicing mindfulness is one way to change your relationship to stress, and improve your overall health and well-being.

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Stress reduction resources

Mindfulness

The term mindfulness refers to a quality of mind. It is an awareness that includes the ability to pay attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment. Mindfulness meditation trains the mind to stay focused. By practicing you begin to notice when your attention has wandered and learn how to gently bring it back. With practice this ability strengthens and instead of functioning on auto pilot we begin to live more fully in the present.  

Practicing Mindfulness also improves the capacity for lowering one's negative reactivity to challenging experiences. It reduces stress and anxiety and increases positive emotions, cognitive ability, creativity, and productivity.

The practice of Mindfulness – present moment awareness - has been scientifically proven to reduce the effects of chronic stress. Over thirty years ago, Jon Kabat-Zinn, at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, created the 8-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program (MBSR) that is used worldwide to counter the negative effects of stress. MBSR is a combination of meditation, yoga, and body awareness that has been effective in helping patients to better manage the pain of chronic conditions and improve overall health and well-being.

Learn more with the UCLA Mindfulness Awareness Research Center.

Helpful mindfulness practices

STOP is a simple one minute practice that provides a way to step out of “automatic pilot” into the present moment:

  • S –stop
  • T – take a breath
  • 0 – observe what’s going on with you – physically, emotionally, and mentally
  • P - proceed

View video

RAIN is another simple practice that is helpful when working with cravings:

  • R – recognize/relax into what’s arising
  • A – accept/allow it to be there
  • I – investigate bodily sensations and thoughts
  • N – note what is happening from moment to moment

 

More information

To learn more about mindfulness, accress resources and find classess offered through the MaineHealth Learning Resource Centers, visit here.

Meditation

Regular meditation practice can help you to feel calm and grounded even when there is chaos around you. Studies have shown that just 25 minutes of meditation, three times per week can make a difference in our mental and physical health.

Meditation trains the mind to focus on the present moment instead of worrying about the past or the future. Anyone can do it. It just takes consistency and practice.

Tips on How to Meditate

  • Take a stable and comfortable seated position.
  • Not leaning back in a chair may help you be more alert.
  • Having both feet flat on the floor feel may help you feel more grounded.
  • If you are comfortable, close your eyes (or focus on a spot on the floor in front of you).
  • Use an effortless breath and observe your bodily sensations.
  • Pay attention to the in breath, the out breath and the pauses between.
  • You may notice how your breath changes spontaneously from breath to breath.
  • You may notice a brief still point at the end of an out breath and the beginning of an in breath.
  • Each time you are breathing in, notice you are breathing in.
  • Each time you are breathing out, notice you are breathing out.
  • When you notice your mind wandering, gently bring your full attention back to your breathing.
  • Repeat for several minutes- Increase as tolerated. 

 

More information

To learn more about meditation and access guided meditation audio recordings, visit here.

Yoga and Excercise

The ancient practice of yoga has powerful health and mood benefits. To find yoga studios and classes in your community, visit meetup.org.

Losing yourself in any kind of exercise can reduce stress.

 

More information

To learn more about yoga, to access yoga videos, or find ways to be physically active in your community, visit here.

Nutrition

Learn more about the role of food and nutrition in stress management:

  • The Center for Mindful Eating: The mission of the Center for Mindful Eating, also known as TCME, is to help people achieve a balanced, respectful, healthy and joyful relationship with food and eating.
  • Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Program
  • Eat for Life: Mindfulness-Based Eating Program by Lynn Rossy, PhD

Recommended reading

Books

You can search and request books online through the MaineHealth Learning Resource Center Libraries
Books are free to borrow for up to 3 weeks and can be mailed to you directly with a postage-paid envelope to make it even easier for you.  

You can also call or email a Health Educator at (866) 509-5183 – healthquestions@mainehealth.org   

  • Mindfulness for Beginners by Jon Kabat-Zinn 
  • Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness by Jon Kabat-Zinn 
  • Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • 10% Happier by Dan Harris
  • Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom by Rick Hanson
  • Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food (Includes CD) by Jan Chozen Bays
  • Eat What You Love. Love What You Eat 
  • Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food

 
Online Newsletters, Articles, and Websites

Helpful apps

Access mediation wherever and whenever you want with these easy to use apps:

Recommended videos and podcasts

Videos

 

Podcasts

10% Happier with Dan Harris: ABC Radio

Stress Free Now

Cleveland Clinic’s clinically proven, 6-week online course for reducing stress and increasing positive energy, teaches you how to practice relaxation techniques and gives you real-life strategies for managing your body’s reaction to stress. This $50 program offers lifetime access. Learn more

Stress Free Now for Healers

Stress Free Now for Healers is coming soon! This six-week online program developed by doctors, nurses and caregivers is currently being tested with employees at Cleveland Clinic. You can access activities now via their mobile app. View app

Employee Assistance Program

The LifeBalance Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available to all MaineHealth employees and their family members. LifeBalance is a 24/7 free and confidential resource program designed to help you manage whatever life event or challenge you’re facing.
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