How to Deal with Stress as a Nurse

How to Deal with Stress as a NurseNursing is not a job for the fragile or the faint of heart. Even for the most seasoned nurse, the daily duties can become taxing at times. Dealing with staffing shortages, rapidly changing technology, and working in a fast-paced environment can lead to well-earned stress. Ongoing stress can cause insomnia, headaches, low energy, lack of focus, and depression. And that affects not only your mental and physical health, but the ability to care for your patients as well. Learning how to manage stress is critical for every nurse to stay mentally alert, physically energized, and healthy. 




10 Tips on How to Deal with Stress 

1. Talk it out

Talking about your problems to positive-thinking people helps put your problems in perspective and find solutions. If your work uses a buddy system, talk to your partner about the situations causing you stress. Other nurses intimately understand your problems. They may even be able to help alleviate the problem. But, don’t limit talking about your struggles to co-workers. Friends and family are also helpful resources who may bring a fresh perspective to your situation.

2. Journaling

If you prefer to deal with stress on your own, writing or drawing is a great way to express your feelings. Whether you choose to use pen and paper or a computer, journaling can help you release pent-up tensions and organize your thoughts. 

3. Step away after a stressful situation

How to Deal with Stress as a Nurse

At an appropriate time, take a moment to yourself. If there is no obvious time, utilize the people around you. They will probably need their own time out at another time. Nursing can have emotional pitfalls. If you just went through a code, a patient died, or you endured any number of job-related stressful situations, ask the head nurse for a five or ten-minute break. Be honest with your employer about why you need to step away. They will understand. Visit a rejuvenation station or take a walk in peaceful surroundings. Have music available for a mini-escape into something that energizes, calms, or soothes you. 

4. Take periodic breaks 

It can be difficult to leave patients and duties, but it’s vital to take breaks. Use your break to calm down and brew a cup of tea, talk to other nurses, or listen to music. If you have time, take a short walk. Taking breaks not only relieves personal stress, but leads to better productivity. After a break, you can return to your job rejuvenated and able to provide better quality care.

5. Get organized

Having a plan helps decrease stress. Sometimes, you can’t finish everything you hope to accomplish. But, prioritizing tasks helps you complete your most important duties. Create an organized plan. Keeping your daily, weekly, monthly, or long-term plans in a phone, calendar app, task list, or journal can help keep you on the ball. Check your planner as part of your morning and evening routines.

Consider arriving to work a few minutes early so you have a chance to organize your tasks before beginning a busy shift. 

6. Focus on the task at hand

While getting organized can help prioritize tasks, seeing a long list of things to accomplish can become overwhelming. Focus on the task at hand and break large goals into smaller tasks to make responsibilities more manageable. Small accomplishments can quickly become big feats. 

7. Compartmentalize

Nursing can cause you to worry about your patients even when you your shift is over. But, you can’t do anything to help your patients when you are at home. Leave your work-related concerns at work. Trust your fellow nurses to do their job. 

8. Make your home a relaxing place

How to Deal with Stress as a Nurse

Your home should be a safe, relaxing space. Designate a room or even just part of a room to relaxing. Set up a comfy chair and a side table. Place calming objects there such as a plant, hand lotion, or an electric blanket. Use the space to journal, do sudoku, or any other activity that helps you de-stress. Or, create a meditative space with pillows and comforting scents like lavender, citrus, or vanilla. Whatever makes you feel bliss, create a dedicated space and spend some daily time in that personal retreat. 


9. Pick up a hobby that helps you relax

Practicing yoga, crafting, baking, or reading can all help calm your mind after a stressful day at work. Give yourself time each day to do your hobby. It will help you feel refreshed and view challenges from a new perspective. 

10. Treat yourself to one nice thing a day

Nurses tend to prioritize the care of other people. You know how important well-being is. So, remember to take care of yourself like you would someone else. It may be as simple as enjoying a cup of coffee or watching your favorite TV show. Do at least one nice thing for yourself every day. You deserve it!

A Fresh Start

Sometimes, it’s not how you manage stress but the environment where you work. Nurses in high-stakes roles, for example, may experience burnout or simply need change. Transferring to a new work environment may be the right thing for you to decrease stress. Need to switch your focus? Find the right nursing career for you with Nursing Jobs. Explore career options including travel nursing, per diem nursing, permanent jobs, and opportunities for new graduates.

Looking for more tips on how to manage stress? Read our article on how to stress less.