Posted on: Feb 25, 2022
Everybody experiences workplace stress at one point in their life, but some careers generate more acute stress than others. Nurses have to deal with long working hours, multiple patients, high-pressure environments and, sometimes, genuine life-or-death circumstances. These workplace stressors can accumulate and cause nurses to take physical and psychological strain, resulting in what is commonly referred to as burnout. Burnout can prevent a nurse from performing their duties properly, and frequently leads to breakdowns in personal and professional life. To help our nurses avoid burnout and keep their physical and mental health in top condition, Adevia Health has curated a list of five effective tips for stress relief.
Tip 1: take a moment to breathe
It sounds extremely silly to tell an overworked nurse just to “take a breath”, but using targeted breathing practices has been proven to effectively reduce the physical symptoms of stress. When our bodies are stressed, our breathing rate goes up and our decision-making abilities are impaired. In work environments which require you to make critical decisions with speed and precision, this can be a big problem. Implementing a few minutes of conscious breathing into your workday can regulate your stress levels and clear your mind. For maximum benefit, we recommend using these techniques before you put on your PPE. Here are some breathing techniques that you can explore:
Tip 2: find an exercise routine which works for you
As healthcare professionals, nurses are well aware of the physical toll that stress can have on the body. High blood pressure, a compromised immune system, daytime fatigue, and poor cardiovascular health are all serious side-effects of stress. Fortunately, regular exercise is extremely effective in preventing these side-effects as well as relieving the psychological side-effects of stress. As a nurse, however, it can be extremely challenging to find time in your schedule for regular exercise. We recommend aiming for short, half-hour long exercise routines which can be easily accomplished before or after work.
Tip 3: take time to rest
You are already probably resting on your days off of work by catching up on some much-needed sleep – but rest is so much more than that! You can take restful breaks at work by taking three or four very short breaks between patients. When you have the opportunity, go outside to catch some fresh air and sunshine for two minutes before heading back into work. Take your lunch break to ensure that you are eating a well-balanced meal and drinking plenty of water. On your days off, be sure to get enough sleep, and also make sure that you are actively taking care of yourself in other ways. Take this time to exercise, to share a meal with a loved one, to practise a skill that you only do outside of work (like gardening or sewing). To maintain a healthy work/life balance, turn off your phone and put it away so that you are not drawn back into your work environment when you are supposed to be taking time off.
Tip 4: be mindful of what you are eating
When you are working a busy shift, it can be rare for nurses to be able to eat at all, let alone to eat healthily. Still, there are choices that you can make to manage your health as a nurse. When we are stressed, we naturally reach for food and drinks which we think are going to make us feel better – that’s completely understandable, and they’re fine in moderation. Still, when you consume too much alcohol, sugar, or caffeine, it can land up increasing the symptoms of physical stress in the body (like an increased heart rate and issues with falling or staying asleep). It helps a lot to bring your own meals and snacks with you to work. This will prevent you from buying something high in sugar and caffeine from a vendor every time you are hungry.
Tip 5: therapy
Therapy can be time-consuming and expensive, but it can also be extremely effective. We recommend it if you are feeling overwhelmed at work, and especially when other stress management techniques are not working for you. There are a few different kinds of therapy that you can engage in to help manage stress:
We hope that these tips will prove helpful in managing workplace stress for our valued nurses. Stress is a part of nursing life – it’s not easy dealing with serious illness and mortality all day – so it’s very important to learn effective ways of managing tension before it affects our personal and professional lives.