Since nursing is a profession positioned on community care and altruism. Many healthcare workers neglect self-care, which reflects poorly on their own health. Such careers are stressful, emotionally demanding, and physically exhausting.
Often nurses are juggling all tasks at the job while also completing their education or are simply not used to the pressure of nursing. Stress management is a big challenge for some, which can negatively impact their ability to deliver quality care.
Healthcare jobs became all the more challenging during the COVID-19 pandemic, which increased nurses’ responsibilities. Research shows that nearly half of all nurses have at least moderate-level stress, and about 60% are emotionally exhausted. High stress in the long term can affect overall well-being, lower critical thinking ability, and drain energy.
Stress management is undeniably crucial in professions like nursing, which is why we’ve formulated a few tips to help you cope with stress work:
1. Practice Scheduling:
One major cause behind the stress nurses experience is the inability to manage the different duties and fit them into their daily schedules. Inefficient planning and management can make this much more challenging. Nurses must know how to schedule the different duties they have at work and any additional tasks that take up their time.
Creating a fixed routine to keep things organized and well-structured helps lower anxiety. Since most nurses nowadays are studying for online degree programs, second degree BSN online programs are pretty popular because they offer flexibility in work and studies. Candidates can study on their own time, knowing they will have plenty of time for more demanding work timings.
2. Practice Deep Breathing:
As trivial as it might sound, breathing deeply and calmly can reduce anxiety. When experiencing stress, practicing deep breathing is an excellent way to counter the body’s sympathetic nervous system response.
In addition to reducing stress, this exercise improves blood pressure and lung function. Deep breathing exercises involve breathing in through the nose – not the mouth – and counting to a certain number while doing so.
A standard deep breathing exercise involves inhaling for four seconds while placing hands on the belly and the chest and feeling them move; one has to hold their breath for seven seconds and then breathe out for eight seconds.
This is usually paired with progressive muscle relaxation, where the different muscle groups are relaxed successively.
You can learn deep breathing online or through deep breathing app tools. Once you’ve learned, fix a specific time to practice deep breathing each day.
3. Incorporate Meditation Into Your Routine:
Another effective strategy to relax and deal with stress is to meditate. It’s a common misconception that all meditation techniques require you to sit alone in a quiet and calm place.
Meditation exercises can also be practiced anywhere, anytime, so you can practice meditation whenever you feel stressed out. Meditation typically involves practicing calming thoughts, clearing out all unimportant thoughts, and focusing on the present.
Meditation lets you gain a new perspective, increase self-awareness, patience, and tolerance, improve sleep, enhance imagination and creativity, and lower heart rate.
You can learn different kinds of meditation methods you can look into. Even though getting into the routine of regular meditation can be challenging, various tools are available online to help you out.
4. Focus On Your Diet:
You are what you eat, and a healthy mind needs a healthy body. One cannot ignore the fact that a nurse’s day is packed, and it is challenging to incorporate a good meal during the shift. However, your diet and health should be a top priority because you cannot serve others to the best of your potential unless you are in top shape yourself.
Eating healthy contributes to good mental health and helps lower overall stress. Certain dietary products like carbohydrates, processed foods, sugar, and trans fat are linked to depression. Instead, go for fresh vegetables, nutrient-rich snacks like nuts and snack bars, and plenty of water. Keep these with you on long shifts, and avoid snacking on unhealthy food.
Often stress results in unhealthy eating habits that you need to correct. It is best to eat a healthy meal before the shift starts, take healthy snacks to work, and keep a water bottle by your side at all times.
5. Surround Yourself With A Healthy Support System:
A strong support system of close friends and family can go a long way in helping you counter stress and increase your resilience to adversities. Research shows that emotional support is a significant protective factor in response to life difficulties. Social support increases resilience, while loneliness negatively affects your physical health.
It is easy for busy nurses to forget to maintain contact with friends and relatives; remember to schedule such communication, ideally through digital means, into your routine.
Stress in a profession as sensitive as nursing can have terrible consequences; even minor mistakes by nurses can be costly and sometimes even threaten the life of some patients. Nurses must know how to deal with stress.
Some good stress management strategies include deep breathing and meditation. Also, surround yourself with a strong support system, schedule well, and eat healthily.