Healthcare workers, in particular the nurses, have challenging times at work due to work compression and working day-in-day-out for long hours. Although nursing is a rewarding career, it is also a high-stress occupation (Potter et al., 2017). Hersch et al. (2016) point out that the nursing career is not only emotionally taxing but also physically draining, which exposes nurses to a higher incidence of burnout. In a study by Dyrbye et al. (2017), approximately 43% of nurses experience stress and burnout. Often torn between the administration and patients’ needs, nurses tend to experience burnout, exhaustion, fatigue, anxiety, and stress, among other health-related issues (Hersch et al., 2016).
Potter et al. (2017) point out that nurses are trained to offer quality care for patients, which is embedded in their life’s purpose. Even with family-life balance challenges and work stress, many nurses are reluctant to take time to care for themselves or find self-care activities that interest them. In a work that Dutton & Kozachik (2020) conducted, self-care is essential for individual health, and sustenance in caring for others. After going through the course, I have learned how to identify stressors. In future experiences, I will deal with stress through exercises, deep breathing, talking about stressors, and seeking support and help in case I’m overwhelmed.
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Before participating in the stress management strategies mentioned above, I look forward to firstly engaging in the first three stages of the Web-based BREATH program proposed by Hersch et al. (2016). This stress management program has seven major modules, as shown in the below diagram.
The first strategy to deal with stress as a nurse is through “talking about stressors.” In most cases, nurses finish their shift, rush home, and zone out in front of a TV or a computer. However, this habit may never eliminate stress. Even when enjoying a TV program or even sleeping, the challenges and situations that occurred at work may start replaying. When going for the subsequent shift, the issue may still be unresolved, creating a stressful period. Talking about stressors helps nurses recognize them and address them, and in case they show up in the future, dealing with them is a bit easy (Potter et al., 2017). For example, in an instance of a communication challenge, medical errors may arise that may result in conflicts. If such an issue is not discussed and solved, there is a likelihood of recurring.
Recruiting support is another technique that I look forward to using in dealing with stress. In most cases, nurses in a working place form a tight-knit family. When a nurse faces an issue, he/she can sit together and have a therapeutic vet session, which helps reduce stress. Apart from reducing stress, they can also use the time to improve issues in the working place (Akbar et al., 2017). For the nurses to have a more candid discussion in verbalizing their stress and concerns, moving away from the environment that is the source of stress is recommended.
Exercising is another primary strategy of dealing with stress that I will engage in. Unfortunately, the last thing that nurses want to participate in after the many hours’ shift is exercise. However, many studies, including Dutton & Kozachik (2020) and Akbar et al. (2017), argue that exercise is a great stress reducer. Exercising reduces adrenaline and cortisol. Potter et al. (2017) work also add that exercising boosts endorphins and energy. Another technique that may reduce stress is by finding a hobby that helps people feel good and accomplished. Examples of hobbies that nurses can engage in include knitting, reading, cooking, among others.
Engaging in deep breathing exercises is another technique that can assist nurses in reducing stress. Akbar et al. (2017) list various stressors that can be solved through deep breathing exercises, including work pressure and tension, conflicts, and having to adopt new therapies. According to Akbar et al. (2017), deep breathing exercises help to bring oxygen to the brain. Through deep breathing, Akbar et al. (2017) add that it lowers blood pressure and relaxing muscles. Deep breathing techniques can be done anywhere, even amid work chaos.
Lastly, nurses should seek help if they cannot handle stress independently using the above-recommended techniques. Healthcare professionals should know that it is okay to seek help/advice when stressors become unbearable. When nurses have stressful experiences during the day, their interpersonal relationships may be strained that ends up affecting their productivity. Nurses should seek therapy in case they feel overwhelmed (Doherty & Scannell-Desch, 2017). In most cases, they care for others, and neglect caring for themselves, a culture that needs to stop. Unfortunately, mentally frustrated people may not adequately care for patients.
Although almost all professionals experience stress and burnout in all careers, these issues become sensitive and critical in jobs that involve human health. As argued earlier, healthcare workers are getting depressed in high numbers, while others are committing suicide. Unfortunately, few of them are likely to seek help. With much work and work-related stress, nurses should seek help or practice self-care tips explored above. The main ways nurses can reduce stress include seeking support, exercise, practicing deep breathing, and seeking help if the issue deteriorates.
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Akbar, R., Elahi, N., Mohammadi, E. and Fallahi Khoshknab, M., 2017. How Do the Nurses Cope with Job Stress? A Study with Grounded Theory Approach. Journal of Caring Sciences, 6(3), pp.199-211.
Doherty, M. E., & Scannell-Desch, E. (2017). Nurses after war: The reintegration experience of nurses returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.
Dutton, S., & Kozachik, S. (2020). Evaluating the Outcomes of a Web‐Based Stress Management Program for Nurses and Nursing Assistants. Worldviews on Evidence-Based Nursing, 17(1), 32-38. https://doi.org/10.1111/wvn.12417
Dyrbye, L., Shanafelt, T., Sinsky, C., Cipriano, P., Bhatt, J., Ommaya, A., Meyers, D. (2017). Burnout Among Health Care Professionals: A Call To Explore And Address This Underrecognized Threat To Safe, High‐Quality Care. NAM Perspectives, https://doi.org/10.31478/201707b
Hersch, R., Cook, R., Deitz, D., Kaplan, S., Hughes, D., Friesen, M., & Vezina, M. (2016). Reducing nurses’ stress: A randomized controlled trial of a web-based stress management program for nurses. Applied Nursing Research, 32, 18-25. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apnr.2016.04.003
Potter, P. A., Perry, A. G., Stockert, P. A., & Hall, A. (2017). Fundamentals of nursing. St. Louis: Elsevier.