Nurse Stress Management: Dealing With Stress On The Job!
From the Nursing CNO all the way to nursing students and everyone in between, we all have dealt with stress on the job. Many of us likely feel it on a day-to-day basis. Let’s face it, stress in the nursing profession isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon and we need to learn more effective nurse stress management techniques.
In fact the American Nurses Association states that stress in nursing is “one of the most underappreciated, yet impactful issues nurses face”. Being a nurse myself this is one of the truest statements I feel on a daily basis!
Facts About Nurse Stress!
So how do we fight this seemingly never ending battle? How do we improve ways in which we cope and deal with stress at work?
We know the job itself, is not going to get easier. We as professionals are continually required to do more. The healthcare field continues to rapidly change faster then ever before, requiring us not only to keep up our current skills, but to also be open-minded for change. The concept of continual change can be easier said then done.
Not only do we deal with constant change, but also emotional and physical demands of the job! Daily, we are faced with moral and ethical dilemmas. We may not feel the impact short term, but overtime it takes a toll!
Every person deals with stress differently, whether it’s at home, coping with stress at work, or other facets of life. Every profession has its difficulties, and we all need help along the way to manage our stress.
We as humans are all wired different. This concept alone, makes all of us unique, and is what also gives us the ability to help others in different ways. As a nurse, I depend on my colleagues more then they will ever know, and frankly maybe more than I would ever tell them.
Interesting Research Findings!
A cross sectional research study published in 2012, sought to identify causes of job stress, specifically in nursing. Within the article its also discussed what stress in nursing can cause. This includes depression, isolation from patients, as well as absence and decrease in their qualifications.
However, the real interesting findings were that of the causes of such stress. The causes were broken up by gender.
For women, the most important job stress aspects were “range of roles (48.4%), role duality (40.9%), and job environment (39.6%)”.
For men, the most important job stress aspects were “range of roles (57.5%), job environment (50%), and responsibility (45%)”.
In conclusion from this study, job factors were more involved with job stress, then demographics.
In a profession such as nursing, stress and how it affects our health, job performance, and relationships (both in and out of the workplace) needs to be researched more. Stress is there, and stress is real, so let’s figure out ways to better our own health and work together to achieve a common goal.
According to The American Institute of Stress, common symptoms of stress include:
- GI Symptoms – Nausea, diarrhea and constipation
- Loss of Energy
- Nervousness & Shaking
Just to name a few…
As you can see, stress effects us all in the different ways. Short term stress is not always a bad thing as it can help us as individuals avoid danger or lead to more productivity.
The real danger here is chronic stress, and not understanding how to deal and cope with it. Long term effects of chronic stress can lead to physical, emotional and mental issues!
7 Ways We As Nurses & Other Professionals Can Deal With Stress In The Workplace!
Besides organizational change, here are 7 simple, yet effective ways for nurses and other professionals should utilize to help manage stress.
1. Better Communication:
Communication is key, especially open communication, to decreasing stress in the workplace and being more productive. In nursing specifically, communication is the key to great patient care, but one would assume that effective communication would translate to any profession.
Communication is not just the art of talking to someone, but it’s also the art of listening. Communication starts from the top down.
An example of this is a boss having unrealistic expectations of their employee or employees. This itself causes high stress within an individual or workplace, feeling as though you can either never complete your tasks or that you are constantly under to much pressure. In this situation it may be time to have a meeting, voicing your concerns.
When there are open forms of communication within an organization, it gives a clearer picture of goals, failures, what’s working and what’s not working. This can help everyone come together to find better ways of accomplishing specific missions and goals.
Everyone and anyone can work on this attribute, and everyone should have a voice to do so.
This is simple, but to the point, right? It’s important with these activities that you’re doing focused stretching. Concentrate on the activity to help take your mind off the stressors. Right? This is the point of many of these activities.
You’re not avoiding the issues at hand, but often times you are taking your mind off of them, giving your mind and body a time to relax.
Pair up with a co-worker or a group of people at work. Find an open room like a conference room and do some simple stretches. Help release muscle tension from the body, which may also help to release mental stress as well.
Then, pair this with some deep breathing exercises…
3. Deep Breathe:
Have you ever just taken 60 seconds to yourself, let your mind go and focused on deep breathing? How many times as nurses have we said to our patients, “just breath, big deep slow breathes”.
Why do you say this to them? The answer is simple, it helps them RELAX. It’s amazing in just 60 seconds how much better it can make you feel. How it can relax the mind and settle your nerves.
Even the University of Michigan published an article on their website discussing the effects of deep breathing. They state that, “it [deep breathing] is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body”.
This is a great strategy after any stressful event just occurred, as it can effect your whole body & is easy to do!
We suggest finding a quite place to do this. I know some hospitals offer a tranquility room. However, other places could be a locker room, conference room, or other vacated room.
Even a Zen garden or outside garden is a popular place to give this a try. You’ll find these types of environments in more and more workplaces around the country.
4. Form More Relationships with Positive People:
Keep motivated and optimistic people in your life. Let’s face it, more “real” friends = more laughter = less stress. Lean on these individuals to vent & get things off your chest. This tactic alone can help one another manage and deal with stress at work, more effectively.
Science daily published a research article discussing specifically managers relationships with employees. The study included nearly 3000 managers and found that managers who enjoy better relationships with their employees “suffer less dangerous stress at work”.
This same research stated that this type of stress when high, can effect productivity and bottom line results.
5. Purposeful walk:
I get it, who has time to do this, right? When do you actually have time to take a walk during work? Have you tried?
Maybe the answer is you don’t.
What if you tried substituting 10 minutes of that 60-minute lunch break to power walk, get the blood flowing.
Related Article: A Guide To Walking Meditation!
It’s hard, and this may not be for you, but I love taking a quick power walk or just wondering outside for a few minutes. This allows me to take my mind off everything going on around me.
Personally, I think about things that have to do with my 5 year old son. These things generally make me laugh and helps bring me back down to earth, putting things in perspective in my life.
6. Don’t Sweat the Small Things:
No one is perfect, and as long as you know within, that you are doing your best and giving 100%, understand that not everything will always go your way.
With that being said, you can’t sweat the small things all the time, look at the bigger picture.
Try and focus on how many patients you have made feel better.
Focus on the presentation you did well on for work or school.
Try and Focus on the fact you started a new exercise this week.
Build off all of the good things you have accomplished and focus on improving yourself every day.
7. Stay Organized:
Develop a routine for work. Coping with stress at work is much easier when you are organized or have a routine. Things may not always go exactly to that routine, but you will have a strong foundation to build off of.
I can’t begin to tell you the amount of nurses who have a daily, weekly, or a monthly planner.
Consequently, those individuals always seem more on top of their game. This is another great way to stay on task, and a great way to reduce stress at work and in your personal life.
Furthermore, according to Monster, benefits of keeping organized include; increasing productivity, reducing your stress, being on time, and ensuring to meet your deadlines.
All of these things you’ve most likely heard before, but are you truly doing any of them? Have you tried any of them with success or failure?
With that said, you have to take them and put them into practice to really discover what may work for yourself.
Discover some additional ways to reduce work stress!
Thanks so much for visiting our site, we would love to hear your thoughts, activities, and/or ideas you’ve done to cope or relieve stress at work.
Let’s all be there for one another and help each other reach a better well-being!