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The safest and healthiest ways to vent at work

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It’s not like being a nurse is stressful or anything. Right? (insert sarcasm). I mean c’mon our day at work is all about everything going according to plan, no disagreements, no personality conflicts and of course no differences in opinions amongst the staff and other personnel right?

Sarcasm! That was sarcasm! (I can just imagine you reading this after a day of work and wanting to punch me square in the face – I kid.. Really!)

So tension can run high. Of course the occasional (yes, I’m living in the ideal word) annoyance will happen at work (please refer to my list of things above). So you’re at work, on the clock, yet you feel like you’re going to explode (maybe even scream.. or do that punching in the face thing)

Here are some things you can and SHOULD do when you’re at work and you need to ‘vent’ those frustrations:

Can you leave your floor / unit / ward?

  • Go for a walk

Go visit a friend / colleague on another floor/ unit. Go down (or up) to the cafeteria. Stroll on over to the OB unit and look at the babies (if that’s possible where you work – this was one of my all time favorite things to do). Go outside and breathe in the fresh air (or cold air depending on where you live). Just GET OUT… period. Give yourself some ‘me’ time to clear your head and get away from whatever is increasing your blood pressure.

As a side note, you’d be surprised what getting away from the ‘noises’ will do for you.

  • Go ‘hide’ in the break room

That is, if you have one. Once again the idea is to remove yourself from the ‘craziness’, and gather yourself.

  • Go make something to eat/ drink

Visiting the ‘kitchen’ on your unit (if you have one). If you are coffee drinker make a new pot (just not a Trenta sized drink). Make a cup of tea. Grab a glass of water. find something healthy to snack on – by all means take some time to eat (nutritionally of course!).Do something to occupy your time just so you can relax.

Can’t leave the unit / nurses station / floor

  • Clean something!

OK, maybe it’s just me – but cleaning always ‘cleansed’ my thoughts at home. So why not try it at work? Something small by all means, don’t turn it into another project that draws too much of your attention. Clean up your workstation, tidy up the med cart or med room.

  • Help a co-worker

With anything they need at that point in time. Maybe a patient-lift? Maybe help draw up a med? Maybe help administer a med? Just find something positive to do for someone else – you’d be surprised at how well this really does work.

  • Laugh it off

Yes, laughter truly is the best medicine. Outside of the obvious emergencies that can and do happen – most of our annoyances just ‘get under our skin’. Laugh it off. Heck, laugh hysterically if that will help (I have somewhat of a cackle-like laugh). It releases tension (and I think endorphins?) and everyone around you will either look at your crazy -and walk away, or they’ll laugh right along with you! Either way it’s beneficial

In the end we all have those certain things that get our blood boiling, some worse than others. And everyday our ‘boiling point’ is set at a different level, so don’t be surprised when you have a bad day. It’s OK, you are human (even though we all think we should be more than human?). No matter what the situation we still have to maintain our stride and stay as professional as we can, but that doesn’t mean you have to keep it bottled up, let it fester until you burst like a volcano at the most inappropriate time (usually while in the company of the most innocent person – or your family / friend become the victim of your rage). Work it out, no matter what it takes, because in the end whatever fire you don’t ‘vent’ and extinguish will eventually burn you or worse, burnout your career. We need ya to stick around.

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Sean Dent

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).
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