As a nurse, you’re no stranger to dealing with stressful situations on a consistent basis. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be hard to leave these unwanted feelings at work. Understanding how to manage the stress that you feel as a result of nursing can make nursing a more sustainable career path that doesn’t end in eventual overwhelm and burnout. Here are some tips for dealing with stress that stems from your nursing job.

Understanding Why Nursing Is So Stressful

Before taking advantage of some strategies for managing nurse stress in the workplace, it can be helpful to have a clear idea of which aspects of nursing are causing you to become stressed. Here are some of the main aspects of nursing that are known to cause stress:

  • Nursing is Mentally Challenging: Unlike many other job roles, nursing requires you to utilize your mind for every second of your shift. This consistent and seemingly ceaseless need to think deeply can be both mentally exhausting and stressful.
  • Nursing Requires Facing Challenging Situations: While many nurses enter the profession to fulfill their desire to help others and contribute to their process of healing, the sad reality of the role is that nurses often come into contact with people who will suffer and maybe even die. The emotional toll of having to deal with these situations consistently can cause an enormous amount of stress and anxiety and highlights the importance of supporting mental health for nurses.
  • Nursing Shifts are Long: In addition to the stress of utilizing one’s thinking faculties and dealing with tough emotional scenarios, nurses work long — and sometimes arduous — shifts. This can be especially true for travel nurses who are working in understaffed hospitals and this should be considered if you’re weighing the pros and cons of being a travel nurse. These long shifts can take a toll on both your body and your mind, making it difficult to decompress and let go of feelings of stress after a shift is over.

Tips for Dealing with Nursing-Related Stress

As a nurse, it can be incredibly helpful to have an arsenal of practices and techniques that can help you manage your nursing-related stress. Here are some tips for dealing with stress that stems from your nursing job.

Invest in Self-Care

While many nurses may put this off, consistently engaging in acts of self-care is incredibly important for maintaining a solid sense of well-being. Self-care will look different for each individual, so it’s important that you find methods of self-care that fit your unique needs. Some common forms of self-care that many people find helpful include meditation, therapy sessions, and exercise. If you’re unclear on which forms of self-care would work best for you, it can be helpful to look for guidance from colleagues and see how they have found ways to manage their stress for inspiration.

Maintain a Good Work-Life Balance

In almost any job role it can sometimes be difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance. This is especially true when it comes to nursing as nurses deal with stressful, overwhelming, and emotional situations on a consistent basis. This being the case, you must make work-life balance a priority — even when it’s difficult to do so.

While you might be tempted to dwell on work-related incidents and complain about them to friends and family members outside of work, it can be extremely beneficial to make a concerted effort not to dwell on nursing-related situations once you leave the workplace.

Discover What Makes You Tick

While some situations may be regarded as objectively stressful, other situations affect various individuals in differing ways. As such, it can be helpful to identify which situations, people, or events at work are causing you the most stress. Once you have identified your unique stressors, it can be easier to manage stress since you know which things to avoid while at work.

If you’re unable to avoid some of these situations, you’ll at least be able to prepare before or decompress after in order to better regulate your stress and emotional responses.

Prioritize Sleep

Among nurses, inconsistent sleeping habits and schedules are dishearteningly common. Sleep is an integral part of being able to regulate stress healthily while also being your main source of energy. This being the case, getting inadequate amounts of sleep, or consistently getting low-quality sleep, can be extremely damaging.

As a working nurse, it’s important that you prioritize healthy sleeping habits to ensure that you’re getting an adequate amount of rest. The better your sleep becomes, the better you’ll be able to manage your nursing-related stress and perform to the best of your abilities.

Maintain Friendships in the Workplace

While being with others won’t make your feelings of nursing-related stress completely disappear, it can definitely help take the edge off. Bearing this in mind, it makes sense that having meaningful relationships in the workplace can make a beneficial impact on your ability to manage your nursing-related stress. Feeling isolated can exacerbate feelings such as anxiety, overwhelm, and stress. As such, sustaining friendships in the workplace has the power to diminish some of these feelings and allow you to stay calm and collected in the face of trying nursing scenarios.

Nursing Doesn’t Have to Negatively Impact Your Life

While being a nurse can sometimes be difficult, the stress associated with the role shouldn’t have the power to derail your well-being. You can manage the stress that stems from your nursing job by taking advantage of some simple yet powerful tips to help you sustain a consistent sense of comfort and contentment.

So, the next time your nursing job gets you overwhelmed and stressed, don’t think that quitting is your only way out. Invest in your well-being by engaging in habits and practices that ensure that you’re able to live life comfortably and without an overwhelming amount of nursing-related stress and overwhelm.

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