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How to Handle Stress

Any job comes with it’s fair share of trials and stress, but nursing seems to be a career choice that has more than average. When you’re treating a patient, the stakes are immensely high and many times it’s not just the physical needs that you are addressing but the stress of the heart and mind , too.

In The Journal of Advanced Nursing, Dr. Andrew McVicar addresses the difficulties that nurses face on a day to day basis. “Workload, leadership/management style, professional conflict and emotional cost of caring have been the main sources of distress for nurses for many years, but there is disagreement as to the magnitude of their impact. Lack of reward
and shiftworking may also now be displacing some of the other issues…” Although many fields have the same first three causes of stress as nurses face, the emotional factor takes a huge toll, not to mention the added skills that nurses must possess such as, “a high level of skill, teamworking in a variety of situations, provision of 24-hour delivery of care, and input of what is often referred to as ‘emotional labour.’”

I think that facing life and death situations is immeasurably stressful for nurses who are just starting out. Many nursing students have told me the stories of the first time they experienced the passing of a patient. Guilt, regret, and grief are just a few of the emotions that fill their minds beyond the time when they clock out of their shift; stress is not something relegated to the workplace.

So how can you cope with the pressures of nursing? According to Emil Vernarec in his article “How to Cope With Job Stress,” one should “either alter our external environment or alter our response to stress. Three personal factors in particular affect that response: how we interpret the stresses we face, our degree of social support, and our general state of health. The more we take control of those factors, the better able we’ll be to focus on resolving the sources of stress instead of feeling powerless against them.” He also mentions that seeking out role models and asking how they deal with stress could be helpful. Peer support is vital too in relieving stress and so is taking care of yourself through eating right, participating in a hobby or getting that much needed massage.

With budget cuts, staffing shortages and health care changes, the nursing profession is not going to get any easier. Knowing how to cope with stress and preventing burnout is vital!

For more information, please go to: http://www.journalofadvancednursing.com/docs/0309-2402.2003.02853.x.pdf


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