How to Manage the Stress of Working in a Hospital

Regardless of which area of the hospital you call home, being a nurse in such a large healthcare facility comes with an enormous amount of stress. From watching a patient decline into death and being unable to do anything to prevent it, to mastering new technology, this isn’t a job for the faint of heart.

While stress can cause quite a few significant health problems and definitely affects your ability to carry out your duties, the good news is that there are many things you can do to minimize its harmful effects. Here are a few good tips:

Take Care of Your Own Physical Health

Nurses are often so busy caring for others that they neglect their own health. However, failing to make sure you’re getting adequate nutrition, rest and exercise will only result in an inability to effectively and healthily cope with the constant stress of your position.

Yes, it can be difficult to make time in your day for a healthy lunch, and long hours or swing shifts can make establishing a regular sleep routine challenging. At the same time, neglecting to do so can lead to burnout, decreased immune function leading to more sickness, and may even harm your critical decision making skills.

Keep a Positive Perspective

When you’re up to your elbows in the byproducts of your environment, it’s hard to want to smile. Keeping a positive outlook even when everything around you seems like a madhouse of suffering and pain, however, can do wonders to help you combat the natural stress that occurs in these situations.

Focus on what you can and have done that has had a positive impact on the lives of your patients and their families. Tell a co-worker what a great job he or she is doing. Thank someone for helping you. Give a compliment … or accept one graciously. Making a point to think and act positively drives negativity away, which leaves less room for stress to take control.

Just Breathe

Maybe today’s been the day of 10,000 auto accidents and you just don’t know how much more gore and suffering you can take. Perhaps a frustrated patient spoke harshly or behaved rashly toward you. Maybe it’s just one of those days where every time you think you’re about to be caught up, something else presents itself.

When you feel yourself starting to get overwhelmed by your job or environment, take 60 purposeful seconds to just breathe. Deep, slow breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth that is controlled and deliberate can work wonders to keep stress at bay. It provides a boost from endorphin release, and often helps you re-center yourself with focus and purpose.

Excuse Yourself When You Need To

While it’s not always possible to step away when the stress of your work becomes too much, make it a point to try to take a break as often as you can. No, you shouldn’t continually ask the other nurses to care for your patients, but you should try to steal away when the stress may start to affect your job performance.

If you have scheduled breaks, take the opportunity to get some fresh air. If you just need a quick reset, step into the bathroom or break room for a few minutes to close your eyes, practice the deep breathing discussed above and claim a fresh perspective.


Image by sashamd

Image by sashamd

Find a few good co-workers and strike up a friendship. No one understands what nurses go through quite like other nurses do, and it can be incredibly helpful to have someone you can talk to who has a similar perspective to your own.

Just be sure to try to choose positive people. While you can and should try to be a positive light for someone else, constantly socializing with negative people with only bring you down, and your stress levels up, in the long run.

Give Yourself the Gift of Time

So often, stressful days happen because they start in a rush that sets the tone for the entire day. If your hospital allows it, try to get to work a few minutes before your shift so that you can know exactly what the status quo is when your shift starts.

If that’s not possible, at least try to get up a few minutes earlier than you think you need to. This allows you extra time for those unexpected happenings, such as lost keys, traffic jams or a near-empty gas tank that you didn’t notice the day before. You’ll still have time to deal with these situations without having to rush in a frenzy to get to work on time.

As stressful as it can be, there are few jobs that are as rewarding as nursing. Use these techniques to keep your stress levels at bay so that you can claim every ounce of joy from the special calling you have.


Image – jpalinsad360

About the author

Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews is a healthy living blogger with a passion for productivity and motivation. You can read more of her Nursing Feed posts by following her on Google+ and Twitter, or you can check out her site, for more posts!

Tamara Olsen - May 4, 2014

Research has shown that one of the major causes of work related stress is the impact of managers and their skills to manage staff and stress in the work place.

Great tips Kayla! Thanks for sharing your thoughts about stress related in work place.

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