Unfortunately, nurse stress and burnout can go hand in hand. The long and irregular hours, and stressful environment can negatively impact your physical and mental health. The good news is that there are many nurse stress management techniques that you can use to reduce nurse stress and burnout.
Below are 7 nurse stress management techniques that have proven successful for managing nurse stress and burnout.
7 Nurse Stress Management Techniques That Work
- Find a Job You Love
There’s nothing more anxiety-provoking than being in a job you dislike or worse–dread.
The starting point to staying in good physical and mental health is finding a nursing job that makes you eager to get to work in the morning — or whenever your shift starts.
If you are looking for a change of pace, you might want to consider travel nursing.
With travel nursing, you have the freedom to choose jobs, locations and shifts that work best for your lifestyle.
Whether you accept an assignment in a neighboring state or a job in a part of the country you’ve always wanted to explore, you’ll make new adventure a significant part of your career.
- Remember Why You Became a Nurse
When you are dealing with a difficult patient or you are overwhelmed with a heavy caseload, take a step back and try to remember why you first became a nurse.
You chose nursing as a profession because you wanted to make a positive impact in your community and help those in need.
Don’t be so hard on yourself. Being a nurse is an incredible accomplishment. Give yourself a pat on the back every once in a while—you deserve it!
- Burn Some Calories
When you are over-scheduled and your workday is grueling, it’s difficult to find time for exercise.
Exercise, however, is a great nurse stress management tool. In fact, physical activity has been directly linked to lower stress rates.
Not only will the time you invest in your workout pay workday dividends, but it will also benefit other aspects of your life outside of work.
Do you have trouble finding time to exercise? Check out who like to break a sweat while on the go.
- Try Yoga or Meditation
When things get stressful, try channeling your inner chi. The mental and physical health benefits of yoga and meditation has been well documented.
According to a report from the National Institute of Health (NIH), “practicing yoga (as well as other forms of regular exercise) might improve quality of life; reduce stress; lower heart rate and blood pressure; relieve anxiety, depression and insomnia.”
If you’d like to experiment with yoga or meditation on your own before committing to a class, you’ll find several informative videos on the subject.
- Eat Right
The proper diet can make you stronger, give you a boost of energy and even calm nerves.
In fact, eating a diet of whole grains and healthy fiber helps produce and regulate mood-regulating chemical serotonin.
Take a look at these and how they can help you alleviate stress in your professional life.
- Breathing Exercises
Breathing exercises are a simple and easy way to reduce stress and tension when things get hectic.
There are many different breathing exercises. Belly breathing, for example, is one of the easiest and most common.
Here’s how it works:
- First, sit or lie flat in a comfortable position
- Place your left hand on your belly just below your ribs and your right hand on your chest
- Breathe deep through your nose, letting your belly push your hand out
- Breathe out, feeling the hand on your belly go in
- Repeat this motion 3 to 10 times, taking your time with each breath
- Take Time to Have a Social Life
It’s important to “step away” from your job on your days off. Spending time with friends and family is a great way to reduce stress.
In addition, set aside time to participate in any hobbies or passions you may have; for instance, hiking, reading or painting.
- Find Water
Wallace J. Nichols, Ph.D. is a big proponent of using bodies of water as a relaxation technique.
The author of the New York Times best-selling book “Blue Mind,” Nichols recommends healthcare professionals “include water time in their weekly self-care regime.”
Some of his water-based exposure ideas include:
Lunch spent by a fountain, pond, lake, or river
A mindful bath, shower, or soak at day’s end
Using float spas
Nichols explains that “water relaxes and meditates us, allowing us to hit the reset button.”
Recognizing that some stress comes from reliance on cell phones and other devices used during the workday in medical practice, Nichols adds that spending peaceful time on the water “generally is incompatible with the addictive technologies that fill our days on dry land.”
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation
“Nurses are great at helping others, but often not great at identifying when they need to relax,” says Amy Moreira, LMHC, the owner of More MH Counseling, LLC.
The daily demands of nursing can wipe out your own ability to know when you need to give yourself a break before your stress load becomes unbearable.
Moreira recommends using a progressive muscle relaxation technique, which can help you tune into your body and identify when you’ve become too tense.
She explains that to do this relaxation exercise, “you systematically tense each particular muscle group in your body, assign a trigger word such as relax and release the tension to notice how your muscles feel when you relax them.”
“By focusing your attention and letting go, you’re able to quiet your mind and calm your body.”
Progressive muscle relaxation is as easy as deep breathing exercises, and Moreira explains that it’s “discreet enough to be done at your desk, during a meeting or at any other time that you are seated.”
Find a chair, take a 10-minute break and prepare to destress.
- Take Time to Laugh
Even if it’s forced, Laughing can go a long way to diffusing the tension nurses experience. Looking specifically for reasons to laugh and smile, even when you’re under a lot of stress, can too.
Moreira explains that scientifically, “laughing improves blood circulation and relieves muscle tension.”
That’s the tension that can lead you to have knots and pain throughout your neck and back or pain radiating down your extremities.
Moreira recommends that “if you’re feeling stressed out, tense or overwhelmed, focus on something humorous or engage someone in discussion that will give you a good laugh.”
A few activities you could consider slipping into your work day when you have time for a short break could include:
Looking at funny memes on Facebook
Watching funny videos on YouTube
Seeking out websites from your favorite comedians to watch their newest clips
Rewatching the best scenes from comedy movies you love
- Visualize Away Your Stress
Visualization is a powerful technique to achieve your goals, which is why it’s the mainstay of many different psychological and mindfulness practices.
Counselor Moreira says that when you’re having a hard day, go on your lunch break and “use visualization to guide you to a calming place.”
This visualization doesn’t have to be of your favorite place, just “a place you find relaxing and can let go.”
To further your stress reduction, “close your eyes and guide your mind to that place, paying close attention to the sounds, textures and smells. Use all your senses and take time to escape your workplace so you can return with a fresh, vacation-like mind.”
This is a subtle way to battle stress during your nursing shift like deep breathing and muscle relaxation.
Don’t let the daily pressures burn out your enthusiasm for the job. Try the 7 nurse stress management tips above to help reduce nurse stress and burnout. Please visit our collegenursinghelp.com for more tips.