Understanding the Challenges of Mental Wellness in the Nursing Profession
In the noble profession of nursing, the importance of mental wellness cannot be overstated. Nurses are not only responsible for caring for patients’ physical health but also play a vital role in supporting their emotional well-being. However, in the midst of their compassionate service, nurses often face numerous challenges that can take a toll on their own mental health.
This article aims to shed light on these challenges and provide strategies for promoting mental wellness among nurses, ensuring they receive the care they so selflessly provide to others.
The Challenges of Stress, Burnout, and High Workload in Nursing
Stress and burnout are major challenges in the nursing profession. Nurses often face long hours, heavy workloads, and emotional strain, leading to high levels of stress. This can result in physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion known as burnout. Inadequate staffing, intense patient care responsibilities, and lack of breaks contribute to these issues.
Stress and burnout have negative consequences for both nurses and patient care. They can lead to decreased job performance, increased absenteeism, and high turnover rates. Burned-out nurses are more likely to make errors, compromising patient safety. They also experience poorer physical and mental health.
Emotional Demands and Compassion Fatigue
Nursing involves emotionally demanding situations, such as dealing with critically ill patients, end-of-life care, and supporting patients and their families through challenging circumstances. Constant exposure to these emotional stressors can lead to compassion fatigue, where nurses experience emotional exhaustion and reduced empathy.
Recognizing the Signs of Mental Health Issues in Nurses
Nurses, like anyone else, are susceptible to mental health issues. Understanding the common challenges they may face, such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), is essential. Being able to recognize the warning signs and symptoms is crucial in identifying when a nurse may be struggling with their mental health.
Concentration, memory, and logical thinking or speech issues
Heightened sensitivity to sights, sounds, smells, or touch
Loss of motivation
Feeling disconnected from oneself or surroundings
Unusual or exaggerated beliefs about personal abilities
Fear or suspicion of others
Displaying peculiar behavior
Significant changes in sleep, appetite, or personal care
Rapid or dramatic mood swings
Early identification and intervention can have a significant impact on their overall well-being and their ability to provide high-quality care. Changes in behavior, mood swings, withdrawal, and decreased job performance can be indicators of underlying mental health issues. Physical symptoms like fatigue, sleep disturbances, and appetite changes may also accompany mental health concerns.
By being vigilant and observant, early identification becomes possible, enabling timely intervention. This proactive approach can have a profound impact on the nurse’s well-being and their ability to consistently deliver high-quality care.
Strategies for Promoting Mental Wellness in the Nursing Profession
Encourage Open Communication and Empathy
Creating a supportive work environment is paramount in nurturing the mental wellness of nurses. By encouraging open communication and empathy, we can foster a culture of understanding and support. Reducing stigma surrounding mental health ensures that nurses feel safe seeking help when needed. Promoting work-life balance and self-care empowers nurses to prioritize their well-being, ensuring they have the resilience to face the challenges they encounter daily.
Provide Education and Training on Mental Health
Increase awareness and knowledge about mental health
Offer educational programs and workshops that focus on mental health awareness, self-care strategies, stress management techniques, and resilience-building exercises.
Help develop coping skills and resilience
Equip nurses with practical tools and resources to manage stress, enhance coping mechanisms, and foster resilience in the face of challenging situations.
Offer resources and support services
Ensure nurses have access to confidential counseling services, employee assistance programs, and mental health resources to address their specific needs.
Implement Organizational Policies and Practices
Have adequate staffing and workload management
Ensure that staffing levels are sufficient to manage patient loads effectively, helps reduce the burden on nurses and helps prevent burnout.
Give regular breaks and rest periods
Establish policies that prioritize regular breaks and rest periods, allowing nurses time to recharge and rejuvenate.
Offer employee assistance programs and counseling services
Provide access to professional mental health support services, counseling, and resources helps assist nurses in managing their mental well-being effectively.
Collaborate and Help Provide Support Systems
Collaboration between nurses and healthcare organizations plays a vital role in promoting mental wellness within the nursing profession. When nurses and their employers work together, they can create an environment that places a high value on mental well-being and provides the necessary support systems.
Peer support programs and mentorship opportunities are instrumental in fostering a sense of connection and solidarity among nurses. These initiatives allow nurses to share their experiences, challenges, and successes with colleagues who understand the unique demands of the profession. Through peer support, nurses can find comfort, guidance, and empathy, which can significantly contribute to their overall mental well-being.
Furthermore, partnerships with mental health professionals are essential for ensuring that specialized care is readily available when needed. Collaborating with mental health experts enables healthcare organizations to offer targeted interventions, counseling services, and resources specifically tailored to the needs of nurses. This collaboration ensures that nurses have access to professional help and guidance should they experience mental health challenges.
Promote Self-Care and Mindfulness
Self-care is crucial for nurses to maintain their well-being and effectively manage the demands of their profession. By prioritizing self-care, nurses can prevent burnout, reduce stress levels, enhance job satisfaction, and improve their overall physical and mental health. Here are strategies for practicing self-care:
Nurses should focus on regular exercise to promote physical fitness and relieve stress. Engaging in activities like walking, jogging, or yoga can help improve cardiovascular health and boost energy levels. Proper nutrition, including a balanced diet and staying hydrated, is also essential. Adequate sleep is crucial for rest and rejuvenation, so establishing a consistent sleep routine is important.
Managing stress is vital for nurses. They can practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or mindfulness exercises to reduce anxiety and promote emotional well-being. Engaging in hobbies or activities that bring joy and relaxation is also beneficial. Seeking support from peers, friends, or professional counselors can provide emotional outlets and aid in coping with challenging situations.
Nurturing healthy relationships is key to self-care. Maintaining connections with family, friends, and colleagues can provide emotional support and a sense of belonging. Engaging in social activities, participating in support groups, or joining professional organizations can foster a sense of community and provide opportunities for networking and mentorship.
The Role of Leadership in Promoting Mental Wellness
Leadership plays a vital role in fostering a culture of well-being within the nursing profession. Leaders have a lot of influence in shaping the nursing work environment and it is essential that they prioritize and promote the mental wellness of the nursing workforce.
To create a mentally healthy workplace, implementing the following supportive leadership practices and initiatives can be helpful:
Have regular check-ins and ask for feedback
Conduct regular check-ins to address concerns, provide feedback, and offer support.
Actively listen to nurses’ needs and concerns to foster a culture of open communication.
Recognize and celebrate accomplishments
Acknowledge and appreciate the hard work and dedication of nurses.
Celebrate milestones and achievements to boost morale and motivation.
Promoting professional growth and development
Support nurses’ professional growth through opportunities for training, continuing education, and career advancement.
Provide access to resources that enhance their knowledge and skills.
The Bottom Line
Prioritizing the mental wellness of nurses is crucial for their personal well-being, job satisfaction, and the quality of patient care. By understanding the challenges they face and makin necessary changes, we can establish an environment that fosters and supports the mental wellness of nurses.
Let’s come together in our collective commitment to prioritize the mental health of those who dedicate themselves to healing others, thereby ensuring a healthier and happier nursing workforce that positively impacts patient outcomes.
* Post contains affiliate links/Updated from 4/4/20
A few years ago, during the start of the COVID-19 shutdown in California, I found myself looking for more creative outlets at home. I’m not sure if it was the fact that I suddenly had to home-school my two and 4-year old children, or I had been suppressing the urge to start coloring, but I found myself doodling in my daughter’s anatomy coloring books almost as frequently as she was.
I first discovered anatomy coloring books as a nursing student many years ago. At the time, I was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information I was expected to memorize. I wasn’t sure why, but putting markers on paper helped me remember anatomy and physiology better than anything else could.
I later learned that coloring the body and its systems is the most effective way to study the structure and functions of human anatomy, according to research.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, I found myself coloring again. Coloring with crayons and markers is stress-relieving for me. I am surprised that it took me so long to realize that.
How We Chose the Best Anatomy Coloring Books
We took a look at the various anatomy coloring books available and chose five that are great for beginner, intermediate, and advanced learners. Our selection was based on how complete they were, with accurate illustrations, clear descriptions, and helpful tips. We wanted to make sure that there was something for everyone, no matter what their skill level was.
Most importantly, we considered the reviews of each book, and these are all rated very high!
We hope you find the perfect anatomy coloring book that fits your needs! Happy coloring! 🙂
This fun mix of coloring book and instructional guide demystifies anatomy for the yoga enthusiast! This book is great for yoga teachers learning anatomy used in all different yoga poses.
The creator of The Yoga Anatomy Coloring Book is a yoga instructor, licensed massage therapist, and anatomy teacher, Kelly. The workbook provides an entertaining and informative journey through the human body, focusing on the bones, joints, and muscles used in yoga.
After an overview of helpful terms, Kelly covers the skeletal system, joints, and connective tissue, followed by the muscular system. Each anatomical feature is illustrated with a beautiful black-and-white drawing of a yoga posture, or asana, to color.
Coloring the bones and muscles, and their names, will help you to remember their location and function, and 32 perforated flashcards enable readers to quiz themselves and study yoga anatomy on the go.
This anatomy coloring book features detailed illustrations of the body’s anatomical systems. Plus, Color Guides on every 2-page spread offer instructions for the best coloring results so you can study effectively.
This coloring book has the following:
More than 450 detailed, realistic medical illustrations, including microscopic views of cells and tissues
Exclusive perforated, flashcard-format illustrations of 96 muscle structures to color and study on-the-go
Clear, descriptive overview on the page opposite each picture, with key learning terms in boldface
Self-quizzing for each illustration, with convenient same-page answer keys
Full coverage of the major body systems, plus physiological information on cells, tissues, muscles, and development
The Human Body Coloring Book takes an interactive approach to human anatomy that will help users learn, understand, and revisit the subject with ease.
Drawing on an unparalleled library of state-of-the-art specialist anatomical illustrations, The Human Body Coloring Book is structured system by system for ease of use, with comprehensive coverage of the human body from cell to system.
The Human Body Coloring Book is a unique study aid that provides students with an innovative approach to learning. At the same time, the opportunity to self-test maximizes the ability to recall knowledge.
Another great book that helps with a concise understanding of anatomy. Includes every body system.
The Anatomy Coloring Workbook includes:
• 126 coloring plates with precise, easy-to-follow renderings of anatomical structures
• Comprehensive explanations of the pictured structures and anatomical concepts
• An introductory section on terminology to get you started and coloring suggestions to assist you
• A glossary of standard anatomical terms
• New injury & ailment appendices, with additional memorization techniques
This Student’s Self-Test Coloring Book includes hundreds of anatomically accurate line illustrations to help you learn the human body.
Coloring the anatomy systems helps you learn the shape and location of each body part, making it easier to visualize, retain the information.
In addition to clear explanations and instructive content, it features
New to this edition: Clinical points text boxes to illustrate the medical significance of the structure
144 two-color pages that lie flat for easy coloring.
16 new pages of text
Extra-heavy paper that minimizes show-through
Includes every body system and part
All parts labeled with correct anatomical names
What Makes a Great Anatomy Coloring Book?
A great anatomy coloring book has every body system:
• The Integumentary System
• The Skeletal System
• The Muscular System
• The Nervous System
• The Endocrine System
• The Circulatory System
• The Lymphatic System
• The Digestive System
• The Respiratory System
• The Urinary System
• The Reproductive System
By coloring each of the body systems, you can learn how the systems affect and work with one another.
Benefits of Coloring
Reduces stress and anxiety – coloring helps to relax the brain in a similar way that meditation can. In fact, coloring can be a type of meditation in itself. When you color, it forces you to be still and quiet, which can help generate mindfulness – especially after a stressful day of work, school, or parenting.
Improve focus – Coloring requires attention and allows you to live in the moment.
Improve sleep – Coloring is always better than looking at blue-light electronics like cell phones; it is also much better than browsing through social media, which can cause more stress and keep you awake at night.
Coloring a kidney will help you understand its anatomy and function.
Frequently Asked Questions About Anatomy Coloring Books
Are anatomy coloring books useful?
Anatomy coloring books can be useful for learning anatomy and physiology as they allow learners to visualize and understand the structures of the human body through a hands-on approach. Coloring can also be a helpful tool for memorization and retention.
What happens when adults do coloring books?
Adults who do coloring books may experience a sense of relaxation and stress relief. (1) Coloring can also stimulate creativity and improve focus and concentration. (2)
Why are coloring books for adults so popular?
Coloring books for adults have become popular as a form of relaxation and stress relief. They allow adults to engage in a meditative activity that can help reduce anxiety and promote mindfulness. (3)
Does coloring help brain function?
Coloring can stimulate brain function by improving focus and concentration, promoting relaxation, and increasing mindfulness. (4)
What color best stimulates the brain?
There is no one color that best stimulates the brain. However, studies have shown that bright colors such as red, orange, and yellow can stimulate the brain and promote feelings of energy and excitement. (5)
What is the most relaxing color for the brain?
The most relaxing color for the brain can vary from person to person, but studies have shown that green can promote relaxation and reduce stress. (6)
Best Anatomy Coloring Books Advice
Any of the anatomy coloring books on this list are very detailed and helpful for learning. Or, if you just need a coloring outlet to relieve stress that also allows you to learn something new, any of these works perfectly.
Effective Strategies To Combat Nurse Burnout and Moral Injury
Have you ever experienced an overwhelming amount of stress or exhaustion from work? You wouldn’t be the only one. These extreme feelings are often referred to as burnout, which is categorized by a decrease in emotional, physical, and psychological energy resulting from work-related stress. This is a problem employees face in all industries but is particularly trying for those in demanding professions such as healthcare.
How can you tell if an employee is suffering from burnout or moral injury instead of just normal levels of work-related stress? Researchers have indicated that there are three primary aspects of burnout in employees.
#1. Emotional Exhaustion
Emotional exhaustion results from the feelings of immense stress and pressure on employees that leave them feeling emotionally and physically spent by the time they’ve finished their shift.
Emotional exhaustion goes hand in hand with another aspect of burnout, depersonalization. This type of detachment reduces the amount of empathy an employee is able to expend toward the people they work with and for. In the healthcare industry, this can raise questions regarding the quality of care that nurses are able to provide when they’re experiencing burnout.
#3. Feelings Of Low Accomplishment
The final aspect of burnout is described as a feeling of low accomplishment. Employees may feel worthless despite their established skills and contribute less toward the responsibilities of their position. This can have some serious implications in the case of nurses and other healthcare professionals.
For as common as burnout and moral injury is in the healthcare industry, not many organizations feel they have a good grasp on programs to address these issues. Below are a few strategies that would serve as effective tools for combating nurse burnout.
Creation and Implementation of Wellness Programs: programs designed to educate nurses on stress reduction and wellness strategies are a great start. These programs would provide methods that can be incorporated in their days to maintain stress levels.
Healthy Work Environments: providing nurses with an environment where they’re respected and able to communicate about their issues openly has a positive effect on their performance and stress levels.
Incorporation of Scheduling Software: integrated scheduling tools that provide clear information for nurses allows for a higher quality of care for patients.
Establishing Healthy Habits: though it may seem cliché, the basics are often the most important. A nutritious diet, a full night’s sleep, and exercise go a long way in terms of positive mental health.
Management Involvement: for the management staff, allowing nurses to bring attention to workplace issues with confidence and establishing an open dialogue will allow for a greater understanding of the employees and how they respond to stress.
For more information on how burnout affects the healthcare industry and nurses, as well as strategies to combat this burnout, be sure to review the accompanying infographic courtesy of ScheduleAnywhere.
Nurses are a critical part of the healthcare system during public health emergencies. They are highly trusted, compassionate, and willing to go to great lengths to protect their patients. However, with no clear endpoint, COVID-19 is not a typical public health crisis and has created a range of mental health challenges for nurses.
Today’s nurses are working under a cloud of fear and stress, which can lead to physical and psychological symptoms. However, there are steps that nurses can take to minimize the effects of high-stress levels and keep themselves and their families balanced.
A Two-Pronged Approach to Managing Stress
Stress levels cannot be managed through mental health strategies alone. Making healthy lifestyle choices can directly affect an individual’s outlook on life, energy levels, and mood. These five tactics can create a positive impact on mental health:
Eat regular meals – focus on whole foods that decrease inflammation and build immunity
Stay hydrated – choose water instead of caffeinated beverages, which can cause headaches and mood swings
Exercise regularly – a simple walk with the dog can keep anxiety and depression symptoms at bay
Limit alcohol consumption and refrain from smoking
Make sleep a priority and practice good sleep hygiene
When it comes to managing stress levels, a nurse’s mental health is just as important as their physical health. Incorporating these self-love strategies into your daily routine can help:
Take mini-breaks throughout the workday to practice deep breathing
Keep in touch with friends and family
Limit exposure to media coverage of the pandemic
Lower expectations of yourself and others, reminding yourself that “done” is better than “perfect”
Practice positive self-talk, such as “nurses have a purpose and make a difference”
Talk it out with colleagues or a supervisor, because nurses don’t have to walk this road alone
Accept help when offered, and ask for support when needed
Help Children Manage Stress
Nurses with children at home have a responsibility to help them understand and respond to our changing world. Children may pick up on the stress that a parent is feeling and struggle to understand what is wrong. Children need to receive reassurance and guidance that’s centered around safety, consistency, and love.
Here are some tips to help children manage stress:
Maintain a consistent family routine – establish set bedtimes and meal times
Include children in conversations about the pandemic, but keep their age in mind and help them navigate their feelings
Set family rules for proper hygiene
Make routines fun for kids – consider singing during handwashing or developing games for wearing masks
Remind children that the situation is temporary
Allow children to help out around the house to give them a way to contribute – young children can carry dishes to the sink and help tidy up, while older children can take on bigger chores such as cleaning and yard work
Reassure children that the parent is safe in their job
Nurses should self-monitor their mental health status on a regular basis and take action when necessary. Symptoms of depression can include:
Persistent crying or sadness
Feelings of hopelessness
Nurses who are forced to make clinical decisions that conflict with their ethical training may experience signs of moral distress, such as feeling guilty or ashamed. Other symptoms to watch for include:
Difficulty with decision-making or memory
Withdrawal from social interactions
Unexplained physical symptoms such as headaches, palpitations, and gastrointestinal issues
Nurses experiencing moral distress or consistent symptoms of depression should talk to their supervisor and seek professional help. Early intervention can be critical to working through moral dilemmas and extreme stress. Nurses seeking to connect with a mental health professional can contact their insurance provider for options in their area.
Mental Health Resources
Anyone experiencing suicidal or homicidal thoughts should call 911.
Nurses who have decided to step away from bedside nursing amid the pandemic should keep in mind that they are not alone. Taking a break and hitting the reset button can be the difference between a nurse developing serious mental health problems and a nurse maintaining their sanity. Some nurses may use this time to further their education from the comfort of their home by enrolling in an online nursing program. An online program can keep the nurse’s knowledge current while potentially offering a pathway to a better position and higher future earnings.
Self-care is vital to a nurse’s health and well-being, especially in the face of a pandemic. Nurses can fill their mental health “bucket” throughout the day using tools of the trade, and perform regular mental health gut checks to ensure that they get the help they need when they need it.
Cindy Blye, RN
Cindy Blye is a nurse-turned-writer with experience in Newborn Intensive Care, Pediatrics, and Case Management. Her works include pediatric nurse certification review materials, policies and procedures, training materials, nursing blog articles, health and wellness articles, and local business reviews. Cindy has three grown children and lives with her husband in North Carolina where she enjoys spending time with her family, gardening, and cooking.
*This post about compassion fatigue in nursing may contain affiliate links. You can find our disclosure page here.
I first realized that I was experiencing compassion fatigue as a nurse after only two years in the profession.
That’s correct. After only TWO YEARS, I was already feeling overstressed, exhausted, and cynical about my career.
When my mind finally wrapped itself around this understanding, I thought I’ve barely graduated with my BSN, and I’m ALREADY burned out? How am I going to continue in the nursing profession for an entire career?
I was frustrated, confused, and, to be honest, a little heartbroken. I was passionate about helping others, and I did enjoy the mental stimulation that I got as a nurse. But I couldn’t figure out how there were nurses on our unit who had been doing the same thing for the last 5, 10 or even 20 years. Didn’t they feel the same way?
Lately, I have spoken with a lot of nurses about their experiences with compassion fatigue. The truth of the matter is that most, if not all, nurses feel spent and exhausted at some point throughout their careers.
What is compassion fatigue in nursing?
Simply put, compassion fatigue is the gradual lessening of compassion over time due to extreme caregiver stress and overwork. Compassion fatigue in nursing is also almost always tied to the chronic stress that comes with working 12-hour shifts, which can be very physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging, even on a good day.
Unfortunately, compassion fatigue is prevalent in the nursing profession. But with awareness and the willingness to make a change, it is possible to overcome this chronic, stressful state and learn to thrive within your nursing career again.
Here are seven tips to help deal with compassion fatigue in nursing:
1. Find a better work-life balance
Are you rotating days and nights? Constantly working overtime? Or maybe just working too many hours per week?
That may work for a while, but it is not a very good long term plan. Everyone needs a break, especially nurses.
Consider taking a vacation (or stay-cation) and plan a few solid days of “me” time. A little TLC can go a long way. You simply can’t continue to take good care of others before taking care of yourself first.
One of the best things a nurse can do to help prevent nurse burnout is to take good care of themselves. Often this notion is counter-intuitive to nurses because the nature of their job is to put others’ needs in front of their own continually. Ask yourself, what do I need to be healthy? Here are a few suggestions:
Compassion fatigue and nurse burnout are so common among nurses. Left unchecked, they can lead to mistakes, unhappiness, or even depression.
Share your nursing compassion fatigue struggles with a close comrade from work who can empathize with your effort. If that doesn’t help, consider talking to a trusted mentor, a therapist, or find a career coach that can help you work your way out of nurse burnout.
Nurses are self-giving creatures by nature, but we must give to our own needs as well. Crawl out of your shell and start talking it out.
6. Find an outlet
What do you do on your days off that may you happy? If you don’t have a stress-relieving outlet, then its time to find one.
Is your inner artist craving a creative outlet, such as painting, designing, or even scrapbooking? Does a day on the golf course or an afternoon on the tennis court bring you joy? Maybe you have been so busy that you have forgotten how wonderfully distracting it can be to become enveloped into an activity that you love to do.
Research has shown that finding a joyful outlet can enhance your mood, increase energy, lower stress levels, and even make your immune system stronger. Find out what makes you happy outside of the nursing profession.
7. Consider new options
Do don’t have to stay in the same place throughout your entire career. If fact, one of the greatest benefits of becoming a nurse is that there are so many types of nursing careers out there.
Have an honest discussion with yourself about your career. Are you a med/Surg nurse who has always dreamed of working in the ICU? Or maybe you are an ER nurse with interest in becoming a flight nurse. A change in specialty might be what you need to tackle your compassion fatigue as a nurse.
On another note, nurses don’t have to work in a hospital. Perhaps working in a dermatology office or as a home healthcare nurse would be a better fit. There are so many nursing careers to choose from. The sky is the limit. Find your passion!
(This post about simple stress management for nurses may contain affiliate links. See our disclosure page for more information.)
Nurses are more stressed-out than ever.
It is no surprise that prolonged stress damages the body. Yet many nurses are dealing with unchecked, chronic stress for years, or even decades. Still, the passion that many nurses have for helping others drives them to continue forward in their nursing careers. But who is helping nurses?
The unfortunate truth is that nurses themselves are the ones who must take care of themselves first. Nurse safety and well-being are not being taken seriously by the very own hospitals where we work so hard and strive to give only the very best patient care. Nationwide, it appears that hospital administrator’s main priority is making money for the hospital, and the health and well-being of their nurses doesn’t even make the list.
Simple stress management for nurses
Do some hospitals see nurses as indispensable?
For some nurses, it may feel like it. Even I have felt that despite my own dependability, clinical knowledge, and positive attitude that it wouldn’t matter in the slightest if I left. The feeling is disheartening.
For example, I became a per diem nurse after the birth of my first child because a unit director stated that they were “unable” to give me consistent scheduling so I could plan daycare for my child. Per diem nursing gives me the flexibility to schedule my days to fit my childcare situation; however, now I have no benefits, no disability, no retirement, and no maternity leave – and I had another baby this year! Needless to say, it was a hyper-expensive year for us and caused a lot of stress for me.
But, they knew another nurse would come along and fill my spot. So why be flexible with my schedule so that I could stay?
I still have a passion for nursing, despite the stress.
Workplace stress in nursing is common. I am not leaving the profession soon because my children are still very small, and I still do have a strong desire and passion for helping others. So in the meantime, I make stress management a huge priority in my life.
If you are a nurse who feels like me, keep an eye out for nurse burnout symptoms that could be wreaking havoc on your overall health and happiness. And start taking simple steps to help keep stress in check, so you don’t end up as a patient yourself. Nurses shouldn’t be creating unhealthy habits to cope with their stressful nursing careers. And if it becomes too much where your health is severely being affected negatively, then consider other nursing options away from the bedside. Nurse, you need to take care of yourself first!
Simple Stress Management Techniques For Nurses:
1. Watch a funny movie
When was the last time you had a good laugh? Do you even remember how good it feels to laugh out loud? Watching a funny movie is a great way to passively tune out and focus on something more light-hearted. Especially for nurses who deal with immense stress in the workplace.
Studies show that laughter is so good for your health. A good laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after. Also, laughter increases your immune system by decreasing stress hormones and increasing immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
Laughter makes people feel good, which is precisely what stressed-out nurses need. It releases endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Studies show that laughter has the power to promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
2. Get moving: endorphins are natural stress reducers
Get your heart rate up on your days off! The benefits of exercise have been well documented is essential for nurse self-care. It is no secret that regular exercise helps control weight, boosts overall energy, improves your mood, and helps decrease stress levels. Not only does exercise benefit the nurse personally, but it also allows nurses to have the stamina to give better care to patients as well.
Need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A brisk 30-minute walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. Which, in turn, will help manage caregiver burden and help you feel your best.
3. Yoga: learn the art of how to relax
Yoga is a great stress management tool for nurses. Compassion fatigue can be overwhelming for nurses, and learning how to use yoga for relaxation can help.
A study published in Workplace Health & Safety on yoga for self-care and burnout prevention of nurses found that yoga participants “reported significantly higher self-care as well as less emotional exhaustion upon completion of an 8-week yoga intervention.” While the control group demonstrated no change throughout the course of the study, the yoga group showed a significant improvement in scores for self-care, mindfulness, and emotional exhaustion outcomes.
Nurse self-care in the form of yoga is scientifically proven to be beneficial:
Stress management. A study published in the National Institute of Biotechnology Information investigated the effects of yoga on stress coping strategies of ICU nurses. After only eight weeks of yoga, the results showed that the participating ICU nurses had significantly better focus coping strategies and a significant reduction in perceived mental pressure. (If that is what can happen after only eight weeks, imagine the impact a regular, permanent yoga practice could have on stress management levels!).
Prevent or eliminate chronic low back pain. Chronic back pain in the nursing population is a common ailment. An evidenced-based review at the Texas Women’s University reported that estimates of chronic low back pain among nurses range from 50%-80%. Yoga not only increases flexibility but increases muscle strength and prevents injuries such as chronic lower back pain.
Good friends can help you manage chronic stress. It is essential to find balance when you work as a nurse, and that includes making time for friendships and a social life outside of the hospital.
Nurses with strong social support have a reduced risk of many significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure, and an unhealthy body mass index. Talking with other nurses who are struggling with the same stressors, you are can help provide support when you need it most.
Having a good social support group can help in many other ways:
Increase your sense of belonging and purpose as a nurse
Boost your happiness and reduce your stress
Improve your self-confidence and self-worth
Help you cope with traumatic situations in the workplace, such as patient deaths and abusive or combative patient situations
Supportive friendships can encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise
Meditation is the practice of focusing your mind on a particular thought or activity to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state. It is claimed to reduce stress, anxiety, and burnout, and enhance resilience. And stressed-out nurses working long, arduous shifts with often changing schedules need this more than anyone.
A few benefits of meditation:
Better focus and ability to ignore distractions
Happier state of mind
Headspace is an app for your phone that has many different meditations, each lasting 10 to 60 minutes. If you can find 10 minutes in your day, then you have no excuse not to meditate! Meditation is attainable for even the busiest of nurses!
Like yoga, meditation is a practice. There is no good or bad. It is just what it is at the time. You can keep practicing to train your mind to do better the next time. And then eventually your brain is rewired by the habitual repetition of meditation, and it becomes easier.
It is not uncommon for hospitals to have a space for spiritual prayer or meditation for patients and their families. However, nurses should also be offered a meditative space to clear their heads and have a quiet moment to themselves. This would help nurses return to their work environments with renewed energy and focus on giving better patient care.
6. Eat nutritious foods
Nurse break rooms are notorious for having sugary snacks like donuts, cookies, or other unhealthy junk food all within an arms reach. Sweets are so tempting to nibble on when you are tired and need a little extra energy. But then a few moments later you crash and are even more tired. On another note, eating nutritious and easy snacks will keep you energized during a 12-hour shift.
Pack snacks like these in your lunch bag to help keep your blood sugar levels balanced during your shift:
Baby carrots, broccoli or other veggies & hummus
Celery and almond butter
Granola and yogurt
Almonds or cashews
Sliced apples and peanut butter
Cottage cheese with pineapple or banana
Tips for nurses to make healthy meals fast: Try making a big batch of quinoa, brown rice, or black bean pasta to have handy in the fridge. These are a few great staples that you can build a nourishing meal around. When you get hungry, you can mix in a protein, veggies, nuts or seeds, dried fruits, or even just enjoy them with a little olive oil and sea salt. The key is to have healthy food that is easy to prepare BEFORE you get super hungry.
P.S. HEY, NURSES! Remember to grab your FREE E-Book “The Nurse’s Guide To Health & Self Care” below! (scroll down)