Few working professionals experience as much stress as registered nurses and clinicians.
In a study, that comes as no surprise to nurses, up to 1 in 3 nurses were noticed to display signs of burnout, such as emotional exhaustion. It doesn’t have to be that way!
If you’re a nurse looking to reclaim your enthusiasm for an amazing profession, these de-stressing activities will help you recharge after a tough shift (and maybe even help you enjoy the difficult moments).
The 4 Best Methods of Reducing Stress for Nurses
1. Take a break for goodness sake.
In any other profession, suggesting that stressed out workers should take brief breaks would seem like an application for the “Most Obvious Idea of the Month” award. Make the same suggestion to a busy nurse, however, and you’ll get a sarcastic smirk, followed by a “When, exactly? I’ve got meds to give, a transfer going out and an admission coming in…”
Yet, regardless of how busy one may feel, the value of breaks cannot be overstated. Even when you feel swamped, a brief break (5-10 minutes is ideal) will refresh your mind and allow you to come back to work with renewed energy. The subsequent boost in productivity will more than make up for the lost time.
Here are a few ideas for taking five, even amidst chaos (just not when someone’s coding out, hopefully).
- Pretend to refill a massive water bottle. Nothing is better than hovering at a water cooler slightly bent forward and wondering if it’s going to ever reach the top of your one-gallon canteen. Bonus relaxation points if it’s by a water fountain or pond and you use that water (don’t drink it).
- Breathe deeply and quickly to demonstrate you understand deep-breathing techniques, and then proceed to hyperventilate.
- Imagine your stress and negative emotions are really jelly beans inside your body, filling your chakra bucket, and then pull the stop and imagine all the jelly beans fluttering to the floor and making a great sound. (For the more serious reader, this is a fun way to explain autogenic relaxation).
- Laugh hysterically after idea #3. Because laughter is actually a really relaxing physical motion, naturally releasing hormones that combat cortisol, the stress hormone.
2. Start a Physical Improvement Plan
Our team has deliberately edited this to change the phrasing away from “exercise” because there are more things to consider than just your muscular fitness.
Though a long shift can be physically exhausting, most of the stress in nursing comes from mental strain. You might feel tired after a day of work, but a brief exercise session can help release the tension. After all, a heavy workload can interfere with healthy lifestyle choices, so restarting an exercise routine may be just what is needed to increase your energy levels and help you deal with stress at work. It could even give you a boost mid-work day.
Meditation is another giant piece of advice we all give but seldom take. Martin Seligman Ph.D., favorably nicknamed the father of positive psychology, explains mindfulness and meditation as part of the pursuit long-lasting of happiness. Check out his work here.
3. Find a Hobby
Most cases of burnout start when work begins to overpower and dominate our every thought – even when we’re not clocked in. By taking up a hobby you are passionate about, you give your mind another outlet for your energy. Art, cooking, and sports, for example, will help you refocus your mind on positive issues that are less stressful than your work.
Mindfulness is key here. Make sure your hobby is something that brings you joy, not something that you’re doing because another wants you to.
4. Get Organized
Clearing the clutter is an excellent way to control stress in your life. Both in your mind and your personal space, a lack of organization makes it difficult to focus on and accomplish your goals. Most nurses find it helpful, for example, to start every day by making a list of their tasks in order of importance. You might need to make adjustments on the fly, but your initial worklist will still serve as a reference throughout the day. Likewise, applying the same logical thinking to other parts of your life will help you handle stress in a controlled and rational way.
Besides, we all like the “throw things out if they don’t make you happy” lady.
Does a pile of professional paperwork stress you out?
Our goal is to make your life as simple as possible, so you can focus on what matters – saving lives! Nurse Backpack helps you stay organized while tracking all of your professional credentials and professional details. If you’re looking for a way to streamline your career, give the Nurse Backpack app a try today.