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Can stress physically hurt you?

canstressphysicallyhurtyouIt’s no surprise that nurses tend to neglect their own bodies when they’re so focused on the bodies of their patients. What you may not know is that, indirectly, your stress may even contribute to problems above and beyond the typical health risks such as hypertension.

When you’re stressed, your body tends to tune out its own needs. Stress may even lessen your ability to assess your personal GPS. For example, when under stress, you’ll be more likely to bang your thigh into a table or hit your head on a low-hanging cupboard. Furthermore, stress is one reason why many nurses engage in unhealthful habits like smoking or overeating.

Here’s how to determine whether stress is contributing to your physical harm:

  1. Are you considered the hospital klutz? Do you get distracted or overwhelmed and tend to bump into people or things?
  2. Do you find yourself at the vending machine multiple times daily, especially when you’re upset?
  3. Do you go outside for a breath of fresh air and find yourself tempted to smoke or, even worse, act on this urge?
  4. Do you have frequent headaches?
  5. Do you find yourself clenching your teeth without realizing you’re doing so?

You can reduce your stress in 60 seconds. Read “Real Nurses on Real Stress Relief: Gone in 60 Seconds” on this Website for tips on how to regroup during your busy workday.


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Jeannie Keenan, RN

Jeannie Keenan is an experienced RN with a multifaceted health care background. She joined My Health Care Manager (www.myhealthcaremanager.com/) with strong clinical skills gained in the ER and Intensive Care Units at Wishard Hospital, where she responded to cardiac/respiratory arrests and Level I traumas. Jeannie also was the Critical Care Shift Coordinator, and has been a staff nurse for both the Critical Care Units and Emergency Department. In addition, she has served as Director of Nursing, with the responsibility of supervising and training the nursing staff to ensure quality of care. As the Regional Director of Clinical Operations, Jeannie oversaw six long-term care facilities and provided training and continued education for the Directors of Nursing. She received her nursing degree from Ivy Tech State College and participates in continuing education seminars.
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2 Responses to Can stress physically hurt you?

  1. Maryellen

    I am really struggling with my facilities rules. I am a nurse, work overtime to help with holes in the schedule. I recently switched to nights to help with the shortage after two nurses left. Now, I got called into the managers office since EVERYTIME you call in sick (one time in six months) you get points taken off which can detrimentally affect your ability to transfer to another unit and cause marks on your file. YOU CANNOT BE SICK. The union can’t even make changes in this. If you punch in ONE MINUTE LATE, it affects your point system up to and including dismissal. 12 points in a year is all you get. Five for calling in sick, one for being tardy one minute. I had the swine flu and managed to take only one day off.. YES I CAME IN SICK!

  2. Katie

    Good reminders, even for us social workers.

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