Year of the Healthy Nurse: Combating Stress
The fourth month of the American Nursing Association (ANA) Year of the Healthy Nurse deals with a subject nurses, therapists, aides, physicians, administrators, and everyone else in healthcare can relate to, Combating Stress. Stress for nurses is often something that stays beneath the surface and builds over time. Because nurses are dealing with so many physical and mental challenges every day, it is extremely important to recognize when it is getting the better of you and taking the time to do something about it. Ignoring stress is inviting it to impact your health, your work and family life, and even the health of your patients.
To support “Combating Stress” this month, the ANA is providing a number of important online resources that not only help nurses to recognize stress but also ways to deal with stress when it is affecting you. There are many webinars available, such as “Your Mind and Body on Fatigue” and “Living & Working Mindfully.” There is other information available including an article about “Eating Better to Help Manage Chronic Stress.”
Here are several tips for nurses who need help managing their stress:
- Prioritize Tasks. In our often chaotic environment, the list of things we need to do can get pretty jumbled at times which makes keeping a priority list an important tool. Smartphones all have apps that can be used to quickly create a prioritized list of things you have to get done. Then, when the inevitable curveball gets thrown into the shift, you can quickly pick up where you left off after the fire is out. If you don’t carry a phone, pen and paper work just as well.
- Focus on Communication. How many times have you found yourself in a situation where things are so busy that you rush through a situation where information is being passed along? And how many of those times has something been missed or “lost in translation?” Scrambling around trying to fix an error or whatever was missed can create unnecessary stress. Help yourself by focusing on your communication opportunities and slow them down to make sure the message and information are crystal clear.
- Break time. No healthcare professional gets to routinely take their breaks on time during a shift. The only predictable thing about our jobs is that they are unpredictable every day. But being tied up during break time doesn’t mean you should skip it all together. Finding just ten minutes to put your feet up and take a deep breath will make a difference in keeping the stress at bay.
- Stretch and Breathe. When you do find that random ten minutes for a break, you can also try doing a few stretching exercises or breathing exercises to instantly reduce stress and help you regain focus for the rest of your shift.
- Vitamin C to the Rescue. At any time of the day, healthy eating is extremely important for your mental and physical health. In addition to always eating a healthy breakfast, those who work in stressful jobs should remember to pack a snack containing vitamin C. Studies show the aroma from citrus fruits are natural stress and anxiety reducers, plus they taste delicious at any time of the day.
Have you found ways to deal with stress in the workplace? Please consider sharing your tips for fellow nurses in the comment section below. Or visit us on our Facebook page and tell us your story. Also, be sure to catch up on all of our Year of the Healthy Nurse postings at The Heartbeat blog.