8 Important Stress-Management Tips for All Nurses

Nursing is considered a stressful profession due to complex job needs and demands. High expectations, minimal authority, and excessive responsibilities are highlighted as the primary stressors in nursing. Stress among nursing students and practitioners may be one of the most underrated yet significant problems in the field. It surfaces in various aspects of their professional and personal life.

According to the International Council of Nurses (ICN), the annual average expenses of job-related stress are approximately $200 and $300 million in the US, and 90 percent of nurses’ medical issues are associated with job stress. Stress among nursing professionals may influence their quality of life and the quality of patient care.

Nurses frequently interact with patients, and factors including their work environment, job location, variety of patients, a lack of staff, forced work overtime, and the management's attitude can cause great stress. It may lead to problems such as co-worker conflict, job dissatisfaction, reduced timely decision-making, declined creativity, and health disorders, including depression.

While stress may be a part of the job, several steps can help address it. If you are a nurse, consider the following tips for managing stress.

1- Switch to Online Learning Options
Nurses usually work long hours, which can be physically grueling and emotionally taxing. And attending work while studying can be more challenging and stressful. Finding an online learning platform can help you advance your education while managing the job and other chores, helping alleviate stress.

Whether you want to acquire an MSN in nursing education or public health or need to get ready for the licensure examination, the online learning option can greatly help. Registering for an online degree can provide flexibility, allowing you to opt for class hours while having the time to relax.

2- Identify Stressors
Determine your stress triggers before you manage your stress. What causes you to feel agitated or anxious? Do you get headaches in certain situations? Do you feel stressed, especially on days when you do not have breakfast? Noting the days when you feel unusually stressed and writing down the factors contributing to that emotion can help you find your stressors. Once you identify what causes stress, you can learn mitigation or avoidance strategies. For instance, you may notice that you feel stressed on days when you do not have a morning meal. Having a healthy breakfast regularly or taking a workplace snack box can help control stress due to hunger.

3- Focus on Your Diet
The profession of nursing demands high physical and psychological strength. Nurse practitioners spend most of their time on their feet each day, making critical decisions and providing care. Not only can a healthy diet improve their quality of life, but it helps them set an ideal example for their clients.

Incorporate foods from multiple food groups into your diet. Eat a variety of whole fruits and vegetables. Make sure the grains you consume are whole grains. Add protein to your diet, including meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, and seeds. Try to opt for fat-free or low-fat yogurt and milk. Minimize sugary foods and drinks rich in sodium, sugars, and saturated fats. 4- Sleep properly
Studies show that nurses, on average, do not get the necessary amount of sleep before duty, which may impact their health and productivity.

Lack of sleep can make the body react as if it is under stress, producing more cortisol, the stress hormone. The cortisol regulates your body's stress response, raising blood sugar and boosting energy levels to deal with stressful events.

With long nursing shifts, you might not control some factors that keep you from sleeping. But you can adopt certain habits that improve sleep, such as sticking to a strict sleep schedule, limiting screen time before bed, and creating a peaceful environment.

5- Incorporate Physical Activity into Your Routine
Lack of physical activity can cause health issues, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and anxiety. As a nurse, you need to exercise to maintain the stamina required to perform the challenging job.

Exercise is associated with stress relief and preventing psychological disorders, including anxiety and depression. Any kind of physical activity can work as a stress reliever. Exercise increases your endorphin levels, lowers the negative effects of distress, and boosts your mood.

Take a walk for 20 minutes, ride a bicycle to the nearest park, join a gym, or do whatever exercise suits you.

6- Spend Time Outdoors
Research suggests that exposure to nature reduces stress, boosts focus, lowers mental health problems, including anxiety, and improves mood. Spending some time in nature can improve your mental well-being and benefit your physical health.

Explore nature, wander through the park, and feel the fresh air. Sunlight exposure is also associated with higher production of serotonin, a substance in your body involved in mood regulation.

7- Communicate clearly
Clear communication is crucial in managing workplace stress, especially in nursing where you are responsible in part for patient experience, as well as being a good team player, and a whole host of other duties. Effective communication ensures the other person fully understands your message and prevents misapprehensions. You experience less stress or anger when you do not hold guilt or fear about eventually facing others.

8- Practice Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation techniques are a great way to bring about the relaxation response in your body, characterized by a lower heart rate, slower breathing, and lower blood pressure. Deep breathing is one of the effective techniques that help reduce your stress. It is simple, and you can practice it anywhere. Whether at a hospital shift or at home, breathing exercises can help you relax. All you will require is a quiet place.

Mindfulness is another type of relaxation technique that nurses can practice. It helps you focus on the present only. You are keenly aware of your present feelings and sensations without interpretation or judgment. Mindfulness encompasses guided imagery and different breathing practices to allow your mind and body to calm down.

Nurses spend a significant period on their feet, delivering patient care and making important decisions, which greatly strains their physical stamina and mental acuity. The nursing profession is particularly stressful due to several factors, and the cumulative consequences of this stress can take a toll on nurses' physical and mental well-being. Fortunately, with a few stress management tips, including a nutritional diet, sufficient sleep, regular exercise, and an overall healthy lifestyle, nurses can tame stress to enhance the quality of their lives and eventually perform better.

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