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An RN’s Techniques for Reducing Stress

Nursing is, without a doubt, one of the most rewarding career options. You have the opportunity and privilege to interact with patients and their families, build strong relationships, and support patients through some of the toughest moments of their lives.

Whether you are a new nurse fresh out of school, a nursing veteran, or anywhere in between, nurse stress and burnout can affect you. Some of the reasons you might be feeling burnt out include the steep learning curve, acuity of your unit, long hours, and because you are working an emotionally and physically demanding profession. Here are some of the tips I have personally organized that help me stay on track and be the best nurse I can be.

1. Remember Your “Why”

You just worked a 12-hour shift, it was extremely busy, and you barely had a second to sit down. People were angry at you for things outside of your control. You finally get home after being stuck in traffic, sit on the couch, and scroll Instagram. You see that your friends are traveling the world, a different country every month, and they seem to be loving life.

P A U S E.

Do you remember why you became a nurse in the first place? Was it because you knew you were destined to be there to advocate for people who couldn’t advocate for themselves? Or was it because you knew your life’s purpose was to save lives and serve others? When we get caught in the prison of comparison, remember your “why.” Today might not have been a great day, but that doesn’t mean tomorrow can’t be.

2. Talk About It (With the Right People)

It is important to have the right friends who you can talk with about your “nurse feelings.” You may talk with your family or your significant other, but you might find they don’t quite understand what you’re going through. You will tell a story, and they won’t realize why it’s funny or sad or urgent. When I found my nurse bestie, that’s when everything changed. Find someone who can empathize with the situations you’ve been in and can offer you advice.

3. Organize, Organize, Organize!

Being organized helps you feel confident and competent. If you’re feeling like your shifts are not quite going the way you want them to, show up 15 to 30 minutes early and plan your work for the day. I find it very helpful to write down my work in a list and cross things off as the day goes on. This helps me keep track of what I still need to do and also helps me get a sense of how much I’ve accomplished in 12 hours.

It’s equally important to make sure your non-work life is organized. I quickly learned that once you start working, if you do not schedule time for self-care and to hang out with the people you love, it won’t happen. Whether you like to use a calendar app or a physical planner, find something that works for you so you can spend your time away from work in a way that brings you happiness.

4. Take Care of Yourself

Life is too short to treat your mind and body poorly. I finally learned after starting my nursing job that it is OK to spend time and money on yourself. That can mean different things, whether it’s hiking and leaving your phone at home, or booking a monthly massage. Figure out what works for you in terms of reducing nursing stress.

5. Learn to Take Breaks

“If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit.”

This quote from Banksy is one of my favorites of all time. We all have overwhelming shifts at work. During those times, I like to walk into the utilities room for 30 seconds, close my eyes, and just clear my mind. The more you have to do, the more important it is for you to take a step back.

The great thing about health care is that you play a huge role in the patient’s care, but you are not solely responsible. Health care is a team effort, so use your resources as you need them. This means involving your charge nurse, RTs, residents, fellows, other nurses — you name it.

I hope these tips will help you continue to love your nursing profession. I am always amazed by how every single nurse carries out their practice and makes their impact in so many different ways. When you work on reducing nursing stress, you can avoid burnout and continue providing quality patient care.

Build on Your Nursing Knowledge

With an advanced knowledge of nursing concepts and techniques, you can take your career to the next level. Concordia University, St. Paul’s online RN to BSN program helps you improve patient care and gives you the skills needed for a leadership position. CSP designed this fully online program for busy nurses who require the flexibility to study whenever and wherever they want.

This blog post was written by guest contributor Miki Rai, BSN, RN. Miki is a pediatric intensive care unit nurse working in Los Angeles, California. Follow Miki on her blog or Instagram @mikirai.