One look at a day in the life of a nurse, and it is easy to see why nursing can be a high-stress career. For starters, nursing often involves long hours and physically demanding work. Emotionally draining situations with patients, staffing shortages and other tough situations add to job stress.
The good news is that there are ways to keep work stress under control. Less stress can promote better health. It can also support higher quality patient care, a nurse's top priority.
What Are Side Effects of Stress?
Work is a common source of stress, and some amount of stress can be good. As a Psychology Today article points out, experience with manageable stressors can lead to being better able to deal with stress.
But persistent stress can cause health issues. According to the Cleveland Clinic, chronic stress can harm the immune system. This can increase the risk of infections, such as the common cold. It can also increase the risk of developing chronic diseases such as arthritis and Type 2 diabetes.
Stress can also lead to burnout. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), burnout can impair attention, memory and executive function. This, of course, may negatively affect patient care. Nurse burnout is linked to higher rates of turnover, which can impact quality of care as well.
But take a deep breath. It may not be possible to eliminate stress, but there are plenty of ways to let it go.
What Are 5 Ways to Keep Stress in Check?
From taking a few minutes to meditate to creating "tranquility rooms," there is a healthy stress-reducer for everyone. Here is a look at five stress-busting strategies:
- Have a Laugh: Laughter can do more than lighten the mood. Like exercise, laughing releases endorphins, which triggers positive emotions. Laughter can even boost the immune system, according to the Mayo Clinic.
- Take 10: Meditation is a wellness trend for good reason. In just 10 minutes, a regular meditation practice such as the "Relaxation Response" can reduce stress.
- Play With a Pet: Some hospitals have pet therapy programs to reduce patient stress. It turns out, taking time out with a dog can do the same thing for nurses as well. Paws for Pennsy gives nurses and other staff a chance to take a stress-relieving break from work with animals from a shelter. These events are good for the animals as well, who may find a new home in the process.
- Take a Break: Even if it is only to the break room, getting away from a stressful environment can be a good way to recharge. When that break room is a "Tranquility Room," the benefits may be even better.
- Get Active: Whether it is yoga, dancing, walking, or something else, physical activity is a stress-reliever. What is more, exercise can improve sleep. Among abundant benefits of getting enough sleep? Reduced stress.
Managing stress is like a lot of things in life. It gets better with practice. Developing healthy habits for reducing stress can have long-term benefits. Staying up to date with changes in the nursing profession can also help lower work-related stress.
Earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is a great place to start. The University of Southern Indiana, for example, offers an RN to BSN program that prepares RNs to keep pace with a healthcare system that is becoming more complex. Being prepared for these challenges can boost feelings of competence, which in turn can reduce stress — good for nurses and their patients.
Learn more about USI's online RN to BSN program.
Sources:GenslerOn: Sound Health: The Tranquility Room
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