Everyone gets stressed at work sometimes. But when your work involves managing the care of multiple patients at once in a fast-paced environment, managing stress can feel like a full-time job. Nurses work hard to make sure their patients are as comfortable as possible. But managing the well-being of others takes its toll over time and many nurses find themselves burned out due to stress.
Great nurses are the foundation of our medical system. Without them, patient suffering would increase massively and overall outcomes would deteriorate. That’s why it’s so important to ensure that nurses take care of themselves and manage their stress—so they can continue to care for patients long-term while maintaining their own quality of life.
Nursing Can Be One of the Most Stressful Occupations
It’s not surprising that nurses get stressed out on a regular basis. Their jobs are fast-paced, demanding, and emotionally taxing. They are constantly being pulled in different directions and called on to perform a wide range of duties, from administering medication to cleaning to updating patient records.
Medical professions are stressful because errors can cost patients their health or even their lives. Nurses must juggle a range of tasks while ensuring that they do not make mistakes that could have a negative impact on their patients. They are also constantly communicating with doctors, other nurses, administrators, patients, families, social workers—the list goes on!
With all of this in mind, it’s easy to see why nursing is considered one of the most stressful occupations of all. Burnout is extremely common in the profession, which can lead to extremely skilled nurses taking long breaks or switching careers altogether. Stress management techniques are key to preventing burnout and allowing nurses to care for their own well-being.
Meditation is a Must for Nurses!
Most people are familiar with mindfulness meditation—a practice that involves sitting quietly and gently directing one’s focus and thoughts. Meditation is a great tool for anyone who struggles with anxiety or stress, and it’s almost a must for nurses. A study conducted on mindfulness meditation for healthcare professionals and concluded that regular meditation practice can improve resiliency while reducing stress, anxiety, and burnout.
Not only does meditation have many benefits for stress management, but it is also highly accessible. It doesn’t require special skills or equipment and it can be done almost anywhere. Nurses can use meditation to feel calmer and more centered, whether they need to sit in stillness for a few minutes on their lunch break or decompress at the end of the day.
Nurses Can Try Deep Breathing Exercises to Decrease Stress
Breathing exercises are another great stress management tool for nurses, especially during the workday. Simply taking slow, deep breaths can help to improve health and well-being. It brings awareness to the breath and allows people to focus on the present moment, rather than the source of their stress.
Nurses should incorporate breathing exercises into their daily routine. By doing so, they can interrupt stressful situations and take control of their emotions before they become even more stressed. Combined with other stress-busting techniques like meditation, breathing exercises can be very effective for reducing daily stress.
Consider Taking a Break & Becoming a Travel Nurse
If you’re a nurse who’s feeling burned out, even with stress management techniques, then you might want to consider changing things up. A change of scenery might help to break you out of your professional rut and get you excited about nursing again. Becoming a travel nurse could be a great way to continue in the profession while preventing burnout. Plus, if you don’t like it, assignments only last a few months!
If Not Travel, Consider Taking a Mental Health Break
Don’t like the idea of becoming a nomad? No problem. You can (and should) still prioritize your mental health. If you’re feeling stressed and burned out, think about taking a mental health day or week so you can reset and refresh.
If a week doesn’t seem like enough, then you might want to consider a sabbatical. Nursing is stressful and there’s no shame in stepping back to evaluate your priorities and career goals. Don’t give up on nursing because of a few bad days, but it’s important to take the time to figure out if managing your stress will allow you to be happy as a nurse.
Stress can cause lots of problems. But if you take time for yourself and learn some management strategies, you’ll be back to feeling great about patient care in no time!