Stress is a commonplace challenge for workers and students across the globe. Many continue to struggle with emotional and psychological instability even when they excel. Outperforming in professional responsibilities or academic endeavors is not the only measure of success and satisfaction. The same goes for nursing professionals and students.
Stressed nursing professionals and students deal with many health complications, such as lack of energy and motivation, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, burnout, irritation, anger, poor concentration, nervousness, and gloominess. Overstressed nurses are also prone to mistakes, mishaps, and physical and mental burnout.
Since nurses are a majority of the healthcare workforce, their poor performance and health can lead to several challenges. The consequences are grave for patients’ well-being and the overall performance of a healthcare facility. Thus, administrators and leaders should not ignore the struggles of over-occupied and overstressed staff members.
Relevant individuals must also understand and acknowledge stress, risk factors, symptoms, triggers, and complications. Managing stress is essential to deliver and ensure better performance and the well-being of nursing students and practitioners.
Tips for Nurses to Reduce Stress During the workplace
The following sections discuss effective coping tactics to manage workplace and academic stress.
1. Improve Communication with Concerned Authorities
Academic and workplace responsibilities can trigger and promote stress and anxiety in individuals. Anxious nursing candidates and professionals fail to keep up with their fellows and colleagues, no matter how hard they try. In such cases, it is better to communicate and share before things get out of control.
If institutional barriers, protocols, and activities hamper your performance and stress you out, talk to the institute’s management. They may help simplify and resolve your concerns and worries.
Similarly, if you cannot manage attending university alongside having a full-time job, consider the eLearning route. Many nurses these days pursue online BSN programs since they’re flexible and easy to manage alongside other responsibilities.
If you are battling study-related, workplace, or healthcare complications, do not wait for someone to lend a helping hand. Reach out to relevant authorities, discuss your problems, and ask for help. If your stress gets unmanageable, seek medical help and therapy.
2. Practice time Management Tactics
Ensuring everything falls in place is not easy, especially when you have various work, academic, and personal life responsibilities. Every responsibility and obligation demands equal concentration and time commitment.
But in reality, it is our view and perception about responsibilities that everything seems urgent. If you can manage things timely, you can prevent overwork, exhaustion, and stress. So, divide tasks into categories and clear the backlog in shifts with the most pressing ones first.
Time management helps in academic and professional success and achievement. It is also essential not to promise or aim for more than you can deliver and achieve. Do not overstretch yourself. Either focus on studies or work if continuing both are challenging. You will experience substantial improvement in your physical and mental well-being and performance after sorting out your commitments.
3. Deep Breathing
Feeling out of breath is a common complication when you stress out. Breathlessness further befogs your mind and increases apprehension. If you suffer from breathlessness often, practice deep breathing exercises.
Deep breathing stabilizes heart rate, improves breathing, removes stacked thoughts, and augments concentration. It is a proven, cost-effective, less time-consuming, and easy coping tactic to control and minimize spiraling and distracting thoughts and worries.
You can take a few breaks between working hours to practice breathing exercises. Find an abandoned and empty corner where you can spend some time in isolation, as it is easy to relax and practice breathing exercises in a silent and distraction-free place. It may seem simple, but you will notice a gradual improvement in stress-related symptoms.
Meditation is a mental exercise to block worrying thoughts, recover focus, enhance self-awareness, ponder over new perspectives, and enjoy the present moment. Since mediation improves cognitive functions, it helps manage apprehension and stress while dealing with day-to-day challenges at work, school, home, or elsewhere.
It is a simple and easy activity where one focuses on their thoughts, breathing, and objects in the surroundings or schemes imaginatively to break the sequence of stressful thoughts. Meditation relaxes muscle tension, regulates breathlessness, reduces negative thoughts, and improves tolerance.
Nursing students and professionals can easily integrate meditation into their schedule, as it does not require extensive effort. One can start and finish their day with a five-minute meditation session.
Exercise is another effective stress management technique similar to sleep. It triggers and boosts endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine hormones. These are feel-good or happy hormones that counterbalance cortisol production and minimize stress levels in the body. As a result, one feels relaxed and content after a physical workout.
Regular exercise helps one cope with stressful thoughts, minimize fatigue, and stay stable in overwhelming circumstances for extended periods.
Exercise is crucial for nurses to stay healthy and fit even if they do not have stress-related complaints and complications. It strengthens musculoskeletal strength and stamina to withstand long-hour duties, manages strenuous tasks, and augments mobility.
Nurses can move around and cater to patients and their demands more readily and efficiently without feeling overworked and exhausted. Physically and mentally fit and resilient nurses also have better workplace and academic performance.
In short, exercise is not an exclusive requirement or fashion for athletes and fitness enthusiasts. It is crucial for everyone.
6. Focus on quality sleep
Sleep is another proven stress-limiting tactic. Sleep regulates cortisol levels which is responsible for causing stress. But lack of sleep will further promote stress levels and increase your anxiety, as both have a reciprocal relationship. If you are already struggling with stress, compromising sleep and filling in for other responsibilities will not prove beneficial in the long run.
Sleep deprivation will trigger a vicious cycle and lead to innumerable complexities. Poor sleep and stress duo is responsible for poor performance, exhaustion, and several well-being challenges. So, do not reduce sleep hours no matter how over-occupied you are.
Maintain at least eight to nine hours of quality sleep every day. Your mind will be better at sorting out clogged thoughts and pending tasks before things get stressful and overwhelming.
7. Reserving time for self-care
Stress can build if you have study and work commitments side by side. Both academic and professional responsibilities demand undivided focus to meet deadlines and achieve goals. On top of that, nurses often sacrifice and overwork in case of emergencies, staff shortages, and national holidays.
Workload, pressure, nagging, and fatigue can overwhelm and stress out anyone. They can hardly spare time for sleep in such a busy schedule, let alone self-care and pampering.
But tending to personal well-being needs is equally essential as professional responsibilities. You cannot go on with a postponing attitude.
Soon you will fall short on pressing responsibilities and start making excuses. It is better to spare some time for your pampering and self-care. Tend to your pending tasks, go shopping, spend time with friends and loved ones, cook for yourself, or do anything else that breaks the monotony of your life.
Stress does not merely have a fleeting effect on one’s mood, psyche, or academic and professional performance. It can promote other diverse long-term challenges for physical and psychological well-being. So, resolve your problems early on.
Many of the mentioned techniques may seem trivial and fruitless before implementation. Until you practice stress management strategies, you cannot tell the difference. But more than that, consistency is crucial. One day’s effort is insufficient to show you remarkable and convincing results.