The nursing profession is often pursued with the aim of rendering aid to others. Nurses envision themselves as capable of managing their duties with both mental and physical vigor. However, prolonged work hours, unpredictable schedules, and challenging patients can cause mental exhaustion and impact the provision of quality care.
A 2020 study found that nurses were more likely to experience anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues compared to doctors and other professionals. These mental health issues can lead to burnout, decrease the quality of nursing care, and increase the risk of medical errors. Therefore, we have compiled a list of tips for nurses to boost their mental well-being so they can deal with the stressors of the job more effectively and provide quality patient care.
Take Measures to Improve the Work Environment:
The primary cause of deteriorating mental health among nurses is burnout due to long hours and the stress of working in a challenging environment.
Nurses can play an active role in improving their work environment and promoting their mental health and well-being. They can do this by providing constructive feedback to their supervisors about any work-related issues affecting their mental health. Additionally, they can advocate for a healthy work-life balance by promoting fair workloads, flexible scheduling, and opportunities for self-care activities.
Clinical Nurse Leaders (CNL) also play an instrumental role in improving the work environment and promoting nurses’ mental health and well-being. The question arises: what is a CNL? A Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) is an advanced practice registered nurse who works to improve the quality of patient care through evidence-based practice, interdisciplinary collaboration, and leadership in healthcare organizations. CNLs strive to optimize healthcare delivery, improve patient outcomes, and reduce health disparities.
As leaders in their clinical setting, CNLs can provide a platform for their staff to voice their concerns and suggestions for improving the work environment. They can also advocate for fair workloads, flexible scheduling, and self-care opportunities for their staff.
Additionally, CNLs can facilitate communication and collaboration among team members to address workplace issues effectively. By promoting a healthy work environment, CNLs can help enhance their staff’s mental health and well-being and boost the overall quality of patient care.
Seek Counseling or Therapy:
Counseling or therapy is highly recommended when experiencing challenges related to mental health, a difficult patient experience, or high-stress levels at work. While confiding in friends, family, or colleagues can be helpful, seeking support from a trained counselor or therapist can provide more comprehensive and unbiased assistance. These professionals offer expert advice and tools for coping with daily life and work-related stressors.
Many healthcare organizations offer resources, such as peer counseling or access to professional counseling, to support their staff’s mental health. Nurses and other team members should explore the resources available in their organizations and take advantage of them whenever necessary.
If such resources are unavailable, requesting their implementation formally may be worthwhile. Employers have a vested interest in the mental well-being of their staff, as this promotes reduced sick time and optimal job performance.
Strike Work/Life Balance:
A prominent cause of anxiety and depression among nurses is the challenge of establishing clear boundaries between their professional responsibilities and personal lives. Nurses’ work schedules are often rigorous, leaving minimal time for activities beyond resting and eating during their off-duty hours.
Consequently, finding suitable moments to prioritize self-care and take care of family responsibilities can be challenging. This predicament renders self-care practices for nurses less probable, exacerbating their anxiety and depression.
Nurses can ensure a healthy work/life balance by prioritizing self-care activities such as exercise, meditation, or hobbies and scheduling them into their calendars to create a clear separation between work and home life. Advocating for a fair workload and flexible scheduling can help accommodate personal and family obligations. Planning and scheduling shifts in advance to allow for adequate time for rest and personal activities is also important.
Setting boundaries with work is another essential step for nurses. It can involve turning off work-related notifications and emails during non-work hours, politely declining to work extra shifts, or taking on additional responsibilities when feeling overwhelmed. By doing so, nurses can achieve a healthy work/life balance, which is crucial for their mental health and well-being.
Get Involved in Health Initiatives:
Nurses can enhance their health and strengthen their relationships with colleagues and community members by participating in health initiatives often available in the workplace or community. Creating or joining such initiatives can promote healthy behaviors and facilitate learning opportunities for healthcare professionals.
Examples of health initiatives include hosting exercise sessions, organizing health assessments and screenings, and running campaigns to encourage physical activity, healthy eating, and stress management. Nurses can also prioritize health education by pursuing certifications in Basic Life Support or CPR which can now be completed through online courses that often offer group discounts.
Nurses can improve mental wellness among themselves and their peers by encouraging involvement in these health initiatives, which can help to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression in the workplace. Additionally, nurses can benefit from a sense of accomplishment and increased confidence in completing these courses.
Resilience training has become increasingly popular in nursing to help nurses cope with their work’s stressful and demanding nature. Resilience training programs enhance nurses’ ability to adapt to change, manage stress, and maintain a positive outlook.
These programs typically focus on developing mindfulness, emotional regulation, problem-solving, and communication skills. Nurses may participate in group sessions, workshops, or online modules that teach these skills and provide opportunities to practice them in real-life scenarios.
Resilience training has been shown to improve nurses’ well-being, job satisfaction, and patient outcomes. It can also help reduce burnout and turnover rates among nursing staff, benefiting the nurses and the healthcare organization.
Many healthcare organizations now offer resilience training programs to their staff, recognizing the importance of supporting nurses’ mental health and well-being.
Nurses face unique challenges impacting their mental health and well-being. Mental exhaustion can lead to burnout, resulting in decreased quality of care and increased medical errors. The tips provided above help nurses manage their stressors more effectively. They include improving the work environment, seeking counseling, finding work/life balance, getting involved in health initiatives, and resilience training.
Employers can play a vital role in supporting nurses by promoting a healthy work environment, providing counseling and resources, and encouraging involvement in health initiatives. Overall, taking care of mental health and well-being is crucial for the nursing profession’s sustainability and the provision of quality patient care.