Unquestionably, job stress is one of the most challenging mental health conditions professionals must manage, primarily if it manifests during work hours. And although stress is indeed a natural element of daily living. Prolonged stress, however, can raise your likelihood of experiencing a heart attack, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes.
That said, while as rewarding, gratifying, and lucrative as a nursing career might be, unfortunately, it is also one of the most demanding professions in the healthcare sector. Nurse professionals work in stressful settings for a few common reasons: long frantic shift hours, workload, emotional burdens, sometimes poor management, and physical demands.
As a nurse, when you’re so focused on taking care of others, it might be challenging to recognize the symptoms of stress. Typical stress-related emotions include rage, fear, melancholy, numbness, and anxiety. At times, individuals may also lose concentration, appetite, and interest in anything due to stress.
However, the good news for nurses is that they can adopt various stress management strategies to manage stress levels and perform better at their workplace. Thus, these are six strategies for alleviating stress in nurses:
Pursue your passion
Pursuing something you enjoy and are passionate about is one of the best methods to reduce stress. For instance, you might want to pursue higher education, but you might find it challenging to do so because of your demanding work hours or geographical limitations. Yet, the healthcare landscape has drastically changed due to recent technological and scientific advances. Therefore, nurses must keep up with the latest trends and techniques to fulfill patient requirements and provide top-notch care. For this reason, nurses are required to further their education at all levels.
Thanks to technology, students today can pursue education online from the comforts of their homes. Are you an RN looking to further your education and advance your career quickly? That is possible. You can secure advanced nursing roles by enrolling in fast track RN to BSN online programs and earning an accredited degree in just eight weeks. Because of these programs’ rigorous and compressed nature, students can finish the necessary coursework and clinical hours faster. With an accelerated BSN program, you can quickly gain the expertise you need to take on leadership roles and offer your patients more comprehensive care. In addition, this fast-track online degree program is your best bet if you have trouble managing your time because of demanding shift schedules and family responsibilities.
Eat a nutritious diet
You might have heard that consuming a well-balanced diet gives you energy and strengthens you. But do you know it also helps calm down your nerves? Well, it is true.
So your balanced diet must contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are present in fish, nuts, and seeds and can aid in lowering anxiety. In addition, dark leafy greens, legumes, and whole grains are among the foods high in magnesium, which tends to calm the body and reduce stress. So assist your body to remain calm and relaxed by including these stress-relieving items in your diet.
Furthermore, never start your shift with an empty stomach. Also, avoid munching unhealthy snacks as they may please you for the time being, but doing so will leave you more anxious than before.
Remember to drink enough water to stay hydrated throughout the day. Finally, it’s wise to moderate your alcohol and caffeine consumption. Instead, you can go for green tea.
Work out regularly
Fitting exercise into a jam-packed schedule and demanding workday can be challenging. After all, a nurse who just finished a 12-hour shift and is on the verge of burnout cannot possibly exercise. Yet exercise is a fantastic stress-reduction strategy for nurses. In essence, there is direct evidence that exercise reduces stress levels. Put this way, a workout increases endorphins while lowering adrenaline and cortisol levels. Additionally, exercise regularly improves a person’s mood, sleep, and appetite.
Fortunately, you do not need to work out vigorously all the time. Instead, you can start with simple exercises such as yoga, stretches, or a ten-minute daily stroll. A better idea is to choose a physical activity that you enjoy so you will feel motivated to keep continuing it in the long run.
Express your emotions and feelings
It is no secret that holding onto feelings for an extended period can be harmful. When we suppress our emotions, they often get worse over time. For instance, it might cause feelings of annoyance, rage, loneliness, etc. So to relieve the burden off your shoulder, share your feelings and emotions with someone.
Finding a person you can speak openly to is essential for stress management, whether you do it with a friend, a member of your family, or even a mental health professional. Who knows, these people may offer helpful advice or techniques you hadn’t thought about. For instance, if you are dealing with a difficult patient or scenario, discuss it with a colleague about the underlying cause; they may have helpful recommendations or techniques you had not considered.
Among many other strategies to minimize stress, getting adequate sleep is one of the most crucial.
The reason is sleep aids in the body’s metabolic processes being restored. Our bodies are more vulnerable to stress hormones when we are exhausted. As a result, these stress hormones can cause several issues, such as anxiety, anger, and difficulty concentrating. In addition, lack of sleep can impair the immune system, which makes it more difficult to fight off infections. Thus, ensure you catch eight hours of good quality sleep every night.
Avoid eating anything and using devices one hour or more before your bedtime. Also, create a peaceful atmosphere in your bedroom and develop a regular sleep regimen to get a good night’s sleep.
Practice breathing techniques to remain calm
As things get chaotic, doing deep breathing techniques is a quick and easy approach to de-stress. However, there are different breathing techniques, and each individual has a varied preference for breathing exercises that help them relax. For example, some people choose to practice deep breathing to alleviate stress. Deep breathing causes your brain to generate signals that lower your blood pressure and heartbeat. Here is how you do it: you inhale deeply for four seconds, hold your breath for five, and then exhale slowly through your mouth for five seconds. The best part about deep breathing is you can breathe deeply, slowly, and easily at any time and anywhere.
Moreover, other in-depth techniques for reducing stress at home include deep breathing while doing yoga or meditation. Yoga places a lot of emphasis on breathing patterns to help practitioners understand how the mind and body interact.
In today’s fast-paced, nurse burnout is a growing source of worry. In addition, nurses’ job duties also get more complicated as the healthcare industry continues to evolve. Did you know an American survey found that 93% of nurses experienced significant stress levels?
Stress can negatively affect nurses, including lower patient satisfaction, subpar patient outcomes, and higher mortality rates. And even though stress among nurses is a natural aspect of their job, there are certain things they may do to reduce it. Thus, you can reduce stress by incorporating strategies including leading a healthy lifestyle, scheduling physical and mental relaxation time, talking to people about your emotions, and finding time for something you enjoy doing.