As lucrative and rewarding as it is, being a nurse is filled with a certain level of substantial pressure that can easily cause burnout. While working, you have to stand for hours. You also have longs shifts and the emotional drain on you as you take care of your patients is phenomenal.
In some cases, you are required to work for 12+ hours a day. And research has shown working long hours can lead to burnout and serious health problems. This makes sense since the shifts are demanding, as well as physically and emotionally draining. Moreover, you are always on your feet performing your duties.
Nursing is related to a wide range of emotions that you can experience throughout the day including being overwhelmed, anxiety, and of course, stress. At the same time, you can also feel challenged, stimulated, confident, and rewarded.
Dealing with all these emotions in one day can make you lose your mind, let alone dealing with it on a daily basis. Sometimes you end up with no energy to take care of yourself as you care for others.
As a nurse, keeping a calm head and staying relaxed as possible under stressful conditions is extremely important. In order to help you avoid letting the pressure overwhelm you, here are some great stress management tips for nurses.
Effects of Unsolved Stress
If it goes unmanaged, stress can easily lead to burnout and that can lead to an overall negative effect on your life. Ongoing stress can manifest itself in several ways, including:
- Physical illness and depression
- Bitterness and anger
- Being demoralized
- Poor turnover and absenteeism
- Substance abuse
- Family negligence
Some researchers have shown that if untreated, stress can lead to immune system impairment in addition to causing an increase in cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Fortunately, you can adopt certain lifestyle changes to help you overcome work burnout. Keep reading to learn about stress management for nurses.
1. Be Sociable & Humorous
Your work is demanding and taking breaks from the patients may seem like an impossible thing to do. But it's wise to take breaks when you're working in stressful environments. Taking a break helps you relax so that when you come back, you will be better prepared to continue offering care.
Consider taking care of yourself as you take care of your patients.
One of the best ways to relieve stress for nurses is by opening up to someone you trust such as a friend or a family member. Your friend might not have a definite solution to what's stressing you. What that friend will be is an assurance of a listening ear and that is all you need in some cases. Talking about your feelings with someone puts them in the right perspective and reduces the heavy burden in your heart and mind.
Additionally, while you are around your loved ones, laugh your heart out at an interesting joke. Laughing acts as a tension reliever lifting your spirits and strengthening the bond between you and your friends. You can also use humor at the appropriate time and during breaks to lighten the mood in your working environment.
2. Fight Compassion Fatigue
Did you know that caring too much for other people can actually lead to stress? It's called secondhand stress. If you listen to patients’ stories of fear, pain, and suffering continuously, you can empathically experience the same emotional pain your patient is going through. This kind of stress does not go away by consuming conventional medication. But you can relieve the stress naturally.
For instance, practicing the ancient Chinese healing technique of Qigong breathing is one way you can relieve empathetic stress.
Similarly, stop feeling guilt about the situation your patients are experiencing. It is not your fault. Letting go of this guilty feeling relieves your stress. Furthermore, consider increasing your social support, participating in community projects, and involving yourself in various charitable events.
3. Exercise Regularly & Fix Your Diet
A healthy diet improves your overall health including helping in in stress management. Therefore, ensure you do not skip your meals and keep your body well hydrated.
Fatigue and stress can interfere with your sleep patterns. Unfortunately, the two are very common among nurses. To perform well, you need enough sleep as much as you need a good diet. Ensure you have a sleep schedule that you strictly follow even when you feel like you cannot sleep.
Improving on your physical wellness can have a great impact on your stress levels. Getting started is simple:
- Join a gym.
- Decide to walk more than you drive or take a cab.
- Use the stairs instead of the elevator.
Interestingly, when one part of your body feels good, it can easily affect your other parts including the brain. That's why exercise is such a powerful stress management technique for nurses.
Being a nurse can be stressful. Don't Sweat the Small Stuff at Work by Richard Carlson gives you simple, yet powerful tactics to deal with stress at work.
- How to bounce back after your worst days.
- How to change the way you view your career.
- Proven psychological "hacks" to improve your happiness at work.
4. Mindful Meditation
Practicing mindful meditation (or mindfulness based stress reduction) helps you be aware of what is happening around you without making any judgments. While meditating, try focusing on one issue at a time until you completely sink in your thoughts and start connecting with your subconscious mind.
It is possible to face distractions when doing this but your mind will gradually rest and start giving you meaningful thoughts. At this point, feelings and emotions such as stress, anxiety, blame, guilt, or anger will become start to fade away. By the time you are done meditating, you will have gotten over those feelings.
5. Nurturing Your Spirit
Your feelings can affect your mind. Setting low standards in your daily schedule can leave you with a lot of free time to think negative things. Make sure that you set reasonable standards and work hard to achieve them.
Accomplishing your daily goals can help a lot in raising your spirits, as you will be happy with your progress. Also, ensure that you avoid the company of negative minded people as they have the power of poisoning your thoughts.
As a nurse, you cannot avoid facing stressful situations each day, some of which are out of your control. However, with a positive mindset, staying healthy, and always associating with trustworthy people, you can manage job-related stress.
With managed stress levels, you become happier and are able to deliver better care to your patients. Being happy and less stressed can also make you more motivated to do your job. You will also have a better relationship with your colleagues and your patients who will enjoy having you taking care of them.