Stressed out nurses beware!
Nurses? Stressed? C’mon!? (insert sarcasm)
Unfortunately stress is expected in our line of work. If it isn’t the job responsibilities themselves, then it’s the shift we work, or the staffing shortages, or the staff didactic, or the overwhelming patient assignment ratios, etc. Yes. Nurses = stress.
So why am I mentioning something all of us are all too familiar with?? It seems a recent study suggest that the increased stress for nurses increases our likelihood of having an MI (that’s a heart attack for my non-healthcare readers).
regularly working more than 10 hours per day had a 60% higher risk for heart disease than those who only worked seven hours daily
And this just scratches the surface of the study. There were other factors studied, but the most interesting point was the discussion of mental / psychological health. Keeping our mind healthy. Even with all the added stresses and stressors, if we can keep our ‘mind’ healthy we can reduce our chances of ‘ticking-off’ our ticker. So I thought I’d share some of my methods and practices for some good ole’ stress-decontamination.
- The old adage of counting to 10 (forwards or backwards) really does help. It takes you mind momentarily off what is ailing you. It also gives you some extra time to regroup and gather your thoughts about prioritizing.
- Nothing more. Just breathe. Breathe. This too shall pass.
- That historical concept of needing more muscles to frown instead of smiling… ehh. I’m all about redirection. Redirecting your focus to something positive. Smiling, whether transparently induced or not, still elevates your mood in some small way. If anything it can be a great reflection for those standing near you.
- Picture something that brings you joy. Something that ‘makes’ you smile- no matter how big or small. Maybe picture you on your vacation? Maybe picture your child or your loved one hugging you? Visualize something beautiful. Visualize something positive. Break the negative chain of emotions with something so strong you have to listen.
- Take a moment for yourself. Remove yourself from the stressor(if you can). Step away from the moment and gather yourself. Walk into the break room. Take a 20 second walk down the hall. Maybe escape down and back up a flight of stairs. Anything to give your brain, your body, and your mind a pause.
No. None of my suggestions are fool proof. Yes, all of my suggestions have worked and one time or another. Stress is only stress if you allow it to ‘stress’ you out. Control the things you can control, and bend like a reed when the wind blows hard. It is easier to bend then break.
Sean Dent is a second-degree nurse who has worked in telemetry, orthopedics, surgical services, oncology and at times as a travel nurse. He is a CCRN certified critical care nurse where he's worked in cardiac, surgical as well as trauma intensive care nursing.
After five years practicing as an RN, Sean pursued and attained his Masters of Science in Nursing. Sean currently practices as a Board Certified Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP-BC) in a Shock Trauma urban teaching hospital.
He has been in healthcare for almost 20 years. He originally received a bachelor's degree in Exercise and Sport Science where he worked as a Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC).
By Sean Dent