As a nurse, you are likely familiar with the importance of managing stress, but these Stress Management Tips for Nurses certainly won't hurt to add to your arsenal. You literally breathe in other people's pain and suffering every day. It can be easy to let the stress get to you. But if you don't manage it, it can lead to burnout.
Stress Management Tips for Nurses
There's some hope emanating from the healthcare industry in terms of stress management for nurses. Some organizations are starting to offer flexible shifts, more support staff, and other resources to help nurses cope with stress.
Still, nurses need to take the steering wheel when it comes to their stress management. Here are some ways nurses can manage their stress:
1. Find Alternative Solutions:
Some nurses continue their education to expand their skill set so that they're more marketable and have greater job satisfaction. But it's not an easy feat to pull off when you're already working long hours.
However, online programs offer a flexible solution to help you achieve your goals without putting extra stress on your plate. You can take courses at your own momentum and from the comfort of your home.
So, if you've been attending night school or working weekends to get ahead, consider taking an online program instead. It will allow you to focus on your studies without sacrificing peace of mind. And if you're still looking for suitable degrees, an RN degree online could open doors to new opportunities.
2. Identifying Stressors:
As a nurse, you are constantly identifying stressors for your patients. So, when it comes to your health, why falter? Acknowledging the stressors will bring you a step closer to managing them.
So, ask yourself? What's causing the irritability? Insomnia? The headaches? Is it work? Home life? Once you have your finger on the pulse of the problem, you can begin to tackle it.
After you've identified your stressors, it's time to address them. It may mean having a conversation with your employer about your workload, or it could be something as simple as saying "no" to social engagements that you're just too exhausted for.
3. Incorporate Relaxation Techniques:
How often have you held your patient's hand as they drift off to sleep? As a nurse, you understand the power of touch. It can be incredibly calming and comforting. So the next time you're stressed, try incorporating some relaxation techniques that incorporate touch.
Some pressure points to try are:
- Heavenly gate point: Situated in the upper shell of your ear, at the tip of the triangle-like hollow.
- Union valley point: In the webbing between your thumb and first
- Shoulder well point: Slightly below the base of your neck, in the hollows on either side of your spine
- Inner frontier gate point: On your wrist, about three finger-widths below the base of your palm
When pressure is applied, each of these points can help release muscle tension and promote relaxation. So, gently massage these areas for a few seconds, and you'll feel more relaxed.
Alternatively, you can also try aromatherapy. Studies have shown that certain essential oils can help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. Lavender oil is a good option, as it has a calming effect.
You know the drill: exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. And while you might not have time for a full-blown workout, you can do plenty of exercises in short bursts throughout the day to help you de-stress.
Brisk walking around the hospital grounds, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or doing some desk stretches during your break are all great ways to get your blood flowing.
You can step up your exercise routine on your days off by going for a hike, taking a yoga class, or playing a sport you love.
Keep reminding yourself that your physical health has a direct impact on your mental health.
5. Be on Top of Your Game:
Thanks to technological advancements, nursing is evolving at a rapid pace. To be on top of your game, keep up with the changes. For instance, if your hospital is going electronic, ensure you're proficient in the new system. Or, if a new procedure is being implemented, take the initiative to be the first to learn it. Having a command of your work will help you feel more confident and in control, which can help reduce stress.
Here are some beneficial resources to help you step up:
- Educational programs like webinars, podcasts, and online courses
- Peer-reviewed journals
- Social media groups
6. Eat a Healthy Diet:
When you're busy caring for everyone else, letting your health fall by the wayside is easy. But if you don't pay attention to your health, you won't be able to do your job. So, ensure you're eating a healthy diet and getting enough rest.
You already know you need specific amounts of protein, carbs, and fats to function at your best. But did you know that certain foods can help reduce stress?
Here are some stress-busting foods you must incorporate into your diet:
- Oranges: High in vitamin C, which has stress-reducing properties
- Berries: High in vitamin C and contain antioxidants that help protect your body against the physical effects of stress
- Nuts and seeds: A good source of protein and healthy fats, which help improve brain function
- Dark chocolate: Contains magnesium, which has been shown to reduce stress levels.
7. Creating a Routine:
Managing and organizing your time can be hard when you have a hectic work schedule. But having a set routine can help you feel more in control and, therefore, less exhausted. Experts swear by the power of making lists and setting daily, weekly, and monthly goals.
You can also try using a planner to keep track of your schedule. It will help you stay on top of your commitments and leave some wiggle room for leisure activities.
And don't forget the basics: start your day with breakfast, pray and meditate, and get enough sleep. A solid routine will be the backbone of your stress-reduction journey.
There is no easy way to say that nursing is a demanding profession. It takes a special person to be able to handle the physical and emotional demands of the job.
But even the most seasoned nurses can feel the world's weight on their shoulders. So if you're struggling to manage your stress, don't hesitate to seek help. Talk to your supervisor, a trusted colleague, or a professional counselor.
And remember, you're not failing anyone. A lot of people are in the same boat. Learning how to deal with stress is crucial to being a nurse. So, take it one day at a time, and be kind to yourself.