Managing Stress in Nursing: 4 Tips New Nurses Need to Know

nurses in scrubs


Nurses are stressed out and burning out. In one study, 92 percent of nurses reported moderate to very high stress levels. In another, 70 percent of nurses reported feeling burnout in their job.

So much stress at work isn’t good for your health. Over-pressured nurses are susceptible to weight gain, sleep loss, and drinking, among other health risks.

It’s also bad for patient health. As Med Page Today reports, higher levels of stress and depression among nursing staff are associated with higher rates of medical errors.

Despite the high-stress nature of their work, most nurses report high levels of career satisfaction and don’t plan to leave nursing. So what does that mean for you, as a beginner nurse?

There’s no need to frantically change your career path, but you should have strategies in place for dealing with stress in nursing.

These are four strategies you can use to manage stress in your nursing career.
1. Take care of your health.
Maintaining healthy habits is harder when you work such long hours per shift. You’ll need to put in extra effort to keep your immune system running strong, and to stay healthy.

Beyond following typical hygiene protocols, take care to make sure you’re getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and including plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet. You should also watch your drinking, as alcohol weakens the immune system.

Eating healthy at work isn’t always easy. You often don’t have time for a full meal, but that doesn’t mean vending machine snacks are the only option. Pack yourself some healthy, portable snacks like raw nuts, hard-boiled eggs, or homemade protein bars (store-bought bars are often high in sugar). Nurse.org has more suggestions for healthy snacks you can eat at work.
2. Schedule time to relax.
Eating well and exercising is important for managing your health as a nurse, but it’s not enough. You need to explicitly address your stress in order to keep it at a healthy level.

Schedule time to destress with self-care so you don’t get caught up with other responsibilities and neglect your mental wellness. Engaging in a hobby, getting a massage, writing in a journal, and spending time with friends are a few ways nurses can practice self-care.

If you find you can’t unwind enough to fully immerse yourself in self-care, consider adding CBD to your self-care regimen. CBD relieves symptoms of anxiety and depression so you can shut off the stress and focus on relaxation. And since CBD doesn’t have psychoactive effects, it won’t interfere with your work.
3. Learn how to overcome stress at work.
High-stress situations and angry patients are an everyday part of nursing. But when you’re busy at work, you can’t afford to get overwhelmed by stress. Instead, you need to learn strategies for shutting down stress before it affects you.

As American Mobile says, remember that it’s not personal. Many people at the hospital are having the worst day of their lives, and their upset has little to do with you. Breathing exercises and mantras also help you cool down from acute stress so it doesn’t grow into something bigger.
4. Stay comfortable at work
Your work is demanding enough without aching feet or uncomfortable scrubs bringing you down. Wear supportive shoes and compression socks to prevent pain in your legs and feet during long shifts. Rather than buying cheap nursing scrubs, which can be stiff and uncomfortable, shop for well-fitted scrubs that are crafted from breathable fabrics. You’ll only spend slightly more, and you’ll feel much more comfortable on the job.

Nursing is a high-stress profession, but as long as you can keep that stress in check, being a nurse can also be incredibly worthwhile. Rather than letting stress mount until you’re in a personal crisis, adopt these stress-management strategies from your first day. You’ll feel better, perform better, and live a more balanced life when you take a proactive approach to stress management.

JUNE DUNCAN | GUEST AUTHOR

Image via Unsplash

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