5 people you should NOT talk to about work stress

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Whom do you turn to for support and encouragement when a shift becomes too stressful to handle? The nursing profession is difficult enough—especially when you try to go it alone. It’s imperative that you find someone at work who can support you when you’re feeling low and rejoice with you when you’re feeling ecstatic.

But let’s get real — opening up to the wrong people at work could have unfortunate consequences. Check out these five people you should NOT talk to about work stress—and why.

1. A coworker who is known to gossip
Unless you want your business spread around the unit and to your boss, keep it to yourself.  Instead, reach out to someone you know you can safely vent to (and who can keep you from insanity!). He or she can also spare you from taking it out on a patient who has you on your last nerve.

2. Your nurse manager or supervisor
It may not be a good idea to open up to someone in a supervisory position unless it’s a situation that warrants an intervention. Your venting may be used against you. Venting should be shared with people who can commiserate with and support you.

3. Nursing administration
Unless your complaints can be used to create change, it’s best to keep them to yourself. Fairly often, administration is so far removed from the front lines that what we feel is a logical complaint will seem frivolous to them. You don’t want to be viewed as a whiner.

4. A coworker who is known to backstab
You remember the bully from elementary school, the one everyone feared and ran from? This is the same person you should avoid at work. Anyone who can turn your words against you and make you look like you don’t know how to handle your job should never hear about your problems.

5. Your patients
Nurses work in a profession, which means: Keep it professional. Your patients have enough problems of their own, and you don’t want them to think the unit is incompetent. They don’t need to hear about your stress at work. Your relationship with your patients is geared toward their healing, not yours.

Don’t find yourself burned by anyone you have opened up to. Remember HIPAA laws and never disclose patient information in public areas. If you need a safe place to unload built-up stress, make an appointment with a professional counselor. Sometimes support comes from the most unlikely of places.

Candace Finch, BSN, RN, is an orthopedic and bariatric nurse who, without the support of coworkers and friends, would have left nursing within the first year after graduation.

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