Why nurses “eat their stress”


Curb your stress by confronting these five nursing dilemmas

So how can nurses break the cycle of overeating to compensate for a lack of self-care? And for those nurses who are trying to take care of themselves with diet and exercise, how can they reduce their stress so that all that good work can finally translate into weight loss?

Koenig suggests asking yourself if you face these common nursing dilemmas and, if so, incorporating these stress solutions.

Dilemma #1: Am I exhibiting “people pleaser” or “approval seeker” behavior? Am I only able to feel good about myself when I’m taking care of others and feel selfish when taking care of myself? Am I one of those nurses who goes out of her way to take care of another nurse, but have great difficulty when friends and coworkers want to give me a break or do something nice for me? Am I always being the “giver” of care and never the “receiver”?

The solution: Koenig suggests thinking seriously about what you can and cannot do before accepting more responsibility. A heart-to-heart talk with yourself about what is realistic and “enough” will help you draw an appropriate line and reduce stress.

Being able to receive ralso educes stress. Learn to delegate and be imperfect. Nurses too often want to do everything perfectly and have a hard time doing things in an imperfect way or letting someone else do a task for them. Sometimes they just need to get the job done, but it doesn’t have to be the best job ever.

Dilemma #2: Do I feel guilty when I say no? Do I use guilt as a punishment for refusing a request?

The solution: “Stress is caused as much by nurses declining a request (like changing a shift with a coworker) as by doing a difficult task,” says Koenig. “At first you may feel uncomfortable not feeling guilty—and then feel guilty about not feeling guilty! But that discomfort will go away in time. When nurses are able to say no and not feel guilty, they will be less stressed.”

Dilemma #3: Am I taking myself too seriously? Do I find time to laugh once in a while and enjoy my work and my life?

The solution: There is of heartbreak during your day, but there is joy, too. Being optimistic and smiling while at work is one of the greatest things nurses have found to increase their moods and decrease their stress levels.

Dilemma #4: Is “venting” with coworkers making me feel more stuck?

The solution: It’s good to share concerns with coworkers and vent, but don’t get into daily gripe sessions that suck out energy and generate a negative “I’m-a-victim” attitude.

Dilemma #5: Are you stressing about the little things as well as the big things indiscriminately? And are you bringing those stresses home with you?

The solution: Distinguish between a big worry and a small worry. One way to differentiate between large and small worries is to assess consequences. If you’re worried about hurting a coworker’s feelings by declining to change shifts with him or her, that’s different than worrying about giving a patient the wrong medicine. Play out the possible consequences. In the example of the request, having someone angry at you is no big deal, but giving a patient incorrect medicine is a matter of life and death. And remember, do your best to leave work issues at work and not bringing them home is important as well.

Next, what is cortisol and how can we manipulate it to help us in weight loss?


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