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5 surefire tips for stressed out nurses

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Being a nurse (and not to mention a nursing student!) is a stressful job. There are a few things you can do to limit your stress in school and in your life as a practicing nurse.

Stress relief is not only important for your own sense of well-being but will help you take better care of your patients.

As founding dean of the University of Houston-Victoria School of Nursing, I’ve counseled my share of stressed nursing students. Here are five lessons I share with them to recognize warning signs and to reduce stress:

1. Get plenty of sleep. Research shows that tired nurses make more mistakes. Fatigue also increases the level of stress in nursing students and working nurses. When working the NOC, take the extra steps to aid in a restful sleep during the day such as getting an eye mask and dark curtains to keep out sunlight.

2. Find a mentor. For nursing students, having good mentor relationships with professors greatly reduces stress by providing much-needed emotional support. For working nurses, a good supervisor or senior nurse needs to maintain a similar relationship with the nurses with whom they work.

3. Eat right and get plenty of exercise. Ironically, many people in the healthcare field neglect the very advice they give patients. This is true for both nursing students and professionals. Be sure to make time to take care of yourself.

4. Make sure those you care about know the best way to support you. Family members, friends and significant others often don’t understand how stressful nursing can be. But research shows that their support is essential to reducing stress. Talk to them about how important their support is to you and how they can best give it.

5. Realize financial health is important, too. Many nurses and nursing students feel stress because of money issues. If you’re a student nurse, take the time to talk to your financial advisers and get all the financial help you can. If you’re a professional nurse, make sure before you accept a job that it will pay you enough to live on. Be sure to make a budget, and make smart money choices. And if you’re making a little extra, a donation for scholarships to your favorite nursing school would do wonders to ease the stress of the next generation of nurses.

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Kathryn Tart

Dr. Kathryn Tart, founding dean of the University of Houston-Victoria School of Nursing, is in the middle of a four-year study with her colleagues on the way stress affects nursing students and working nurses.
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