Stress is a daily part of nurses’ lives. It can be from job duties, patient care issues, interpersonal relationships, or even the hospital environment. There are innumerable ways to cope with stress and prevent it from harming your health and well-being.
Many people believe that stress causes illness and disease. While this may not be true for all illnesses, there is a strong correlation between mental and physical health. When you’re stressed, your body produces hormones like cortisol that weaken your immune system. This means you have an increased risk of getting sick when under stress. The best thing you can do if you want to stay healthy through stress is to learn how to relax every day.
Let’s take a look at how nurses can protect themselves from burnout as they work long shifts and care for patients around the clock:
Take Time to Relax Daily
It’s easy to feel rushed throughout your shift, especially when trying to get everything done quickly so you can leave early. But taking time to relax and unwind will make a difference in how much stress you experience each day. If you have downtime, use it to do something relaxing. Try reading a book or watching television for fifteen minutes before going to bed. You can also try meditation techniques to calm yourself down before heading out for your shift. A few deep breaths can help lower your blood pressure and reduce your heart rate.
Pursue Further Education
Continuing education classes can teach you new skills and help you advance within your field. Check with your employer to see what is available. You might even take college courses once you move up into management positions. You can also go for a master of science in nursing online program if your schedule doesn’t allow you to attend regular classes.
Get Plenty of Sleep Each Night
Sleep helps your brain process information and recharge after a stressful shift. Get enough sleep each night to ensure you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to go. Even if you don’t have the opportunity to catch some extra Zs, napping during your lunch hour or taking a walk outside can boost energy. Sleep problems can be caused by various factors, including chronic pain, restless leg syndrome, allergies, anxiety, depression, medications, or hormonal imbalances. If you think professional counseling or medication might benefit you, talk to your doctor about starting treatment.
Just thirty minutes of exercise five days per week can improve your overall health and increase your energy levels. Choose activities that you enjoy doing and stick with them. Walking, swimming, yoga, or cycling are great choices because they don’t require expensive equipment. However, you should avoid exercising close to bedtime. Before you head off to sleep, exercising can keep you awake longer and disrupt your sleep cycle.
The Importance of Staying Healthy
Nurses are responsible for helping patients recover from injuries and illnesses. Your patients rely on you for guidance and support. Therefore, it’s important to protect yourself against potential threats to your health. If you neglect your own needs, you’ll eventually run out of energy and become less effective as a nurse. In addition, poor health can affect your family life. Stress and depression can lead to arguments and relationship problems. Learning how you can manage stress is crucial to continue providing quality care to your patients.
You Need to Eat Right Every Day
Eating nutritious food keeps your body functioning properly. Eating plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables can improve your focus and concentration while reducing your chances of developing certain diseases. Avoid sugary foods and processed snacks that are high in sodium. Instead, choose protein-rich foods like lean poultry, eggs, beans, nuts, and seeds. These foods give you energy and keep you feeling full longer.
Make Time for Regular Physical Activity
Physical activity improves circulation, boosts your mood, and helps you sleep better. Start small by walking 20 minutes every day or doing light stretches. Gradually build up to more intense workouts such as running, swimming, or weight training. Aim for 30 minutes per day of moderate exercise three times per week. If you feel tired, slow down your pace until you feel refreshed again.
Manage Your Emotions
Stress can cause changes in your body that impact your ability to function normally. Learn how to cope with negative emotions positively. Meditate, practice breathing exercises, listen to music, or seek professional counseling. Talk to your coworkers or friends to vent about your feelings and ask for their support. Encourage your loved ones to do the same if they are experiencing similar problems.
Seek Help if you’re Unhappy with Your Job
If you dislike your job or the environment you work in, speak to your supervisor. They may be able to provide you with more opportunities for advancement or help you find another position in the organization. It’s perfectly acceptable to quit your job if you are unhappy. But be prepared to explain why you want to change careers. You may need to enroll in an online RN to MSN program to advance into higher-paying positions.
Learn How to Deal With Rejection
Not everyone you meet will accept your help. You might encounter people who aren’t willing to follow your advice or adhere to your recommendations. This can be frustrating and upsetting. Don’t let these feelings prevent you from continuing to treat other people with respect. Over time, you’ll learn how to deal with difficult situations while maintaining your sense of self.
Becoming a nurse isn’t easy. You’ll face many challenges along the way, both physical and mental. However, the rewards you receive when you help others heal can be tremendous. Stay focused on your goals, and remember to take care of yourself. Follow your instincts and stay true to yourself.