Opinion

Every nurse’s guide to coping with stress

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Nurses are among the most stressed working groups in the world. Never mind the potential long hours and the fatigue, the demands of the job itself are already a significant trigger for anxiety symptoms. In fact, stress can make you ill and there is a need for the health care industry to do more to address this problem. But there is a lot the individual can to to reduce the problem so here are some tips that nurses can use to lower their stress levels at work.

Love your job!

An Indian study found that about 60 percent of nurses were not satisfied with their pay. Even though most nurses in the study enjoyed permanent employment status (so lack of job security was not a contributing factor to stress levels) it was clear people find it hard to get motivated if they are stressed about lack of money. One thing that can help is emphasising the positive aspects of nursing. Instead of focusing on negatives like feeling you are not paid enough, take time to reflect on the rewards that come from helping patients and attending to their needs. You should be proud that you may have been the most helpful person in a patient’s time of need.

Learn to handle unpredictable patients

The threat of physical and verbal violence is another common stress trigger among nurses. Lack of training to face these situations can leave nurses open to anxiety in their daily life. If you are unsure as to how to react in this sort of situation, take time to talk to a senior member of staff and make sure  you are familiar with the protocol for dealing with incidents in your particular work environment. You can also request training - being confident you know how to react should a situation arise, can help ease anxiety.

Keep learning

All nurses are obliged as part of the NMC regulations to stay up to date through continuous professional development. This is a good way of preventing stress as those who take a keen interest in their field of practice often feel more confident in their daily duties.

Communication

On several levels, communication is a great way to combat stress. Obviously keeping in mind confidentiality, talking about your feelings with a loved one can help alleviate anxiety. Communication with other members of staff can also be beneficial as, quite often, they will have experienced similar emotions and can advise on how they overcame these issues.

Take care of yourself

Studies have shown that stress is also caused by poor nutrition. Nurses are frequently too busy caring for patients to take their breaks. This adds to the tendency for nurses to consume a lot of caffeine, which can lead to lowered quality of sleep, eventually exposing the individual to symptoms of anxiety. It is essential for nurses to keep track of their breaks and make sure they make time for themselves. Looking for healthy options in your diet and adhering to a regular exercise routine can all contribute to a healthier, stress-free you.

As a health care professional, you need to make sure you maintain your own health. If you don't look after yourself, you will be unable to offer the best care to your patients.

Relaxation and deep breathing exercises can be hugely beneficial for nurses who feel anxious. They can help either at the time stress arises or even as part of your regular routine to help keep you relaxed throughout the day.

I hope some of these tips are helpful as I believe it is vital that the issue of stress in nursing is addressed. The challenging nature of the job and its tendency to lead to burnout are among the leading reasons why so many nurses leave the profession. The distress can be overwhelming and if ignored could not only lead to huge personal costs but also a shortage of nurses in our hospitals and in the community. Understanding stress and its impact on nurses remains a key part of ensuring the delivery of quality health care.

About the author

Ryan Rivera has written various articles that help people from different walks of life deal with the daily stress and anxiety. You can read more helpful tips if you visit his Calm Clinic Facebook account.