nurse stress

8 Ways for Nurses and CNAs to Manage and Prevent Stress

Nurse stress is a real and could lead to burnout. From the beginning of your nursing education all the way through retirement, you’ll face difficult situations on a daily basis. The emotional demands of nursing are endless and the physical demands can be exhausting. Research shows that 50% of nurses feel tired all the time due to stress from work.

In any field, stress can negatively affect relationships with co-workers, the ability to make effective decisions, and productivity levels. In nursing, professional stress can even have an impact on patient care. 

Sources of stress can include poor leadership, long shifts, and difficult co-workers or patients. In most situations, stress is not the result of a single trigger, but a compilation of issues over time.

While you may love your career, you know how stressful nursing is, and that it can have an impact on your health and eventually may lead to burnout. If you are a nurse or CNA, consider adopting the following habits in an attempt to manage or even prevent stress on the job.

1. Stick to a Schedule

Create a schedule and stick to it. You can only manage so much. Be sure to create a plan that allows for friends and family. Intentionally schedule time for rest. Maintaining a balanced schedule will help you manage nurse stress that results from unexpected responsibilities. 

For individuals in the health care industry, it is natural to lend a helping hand when someone is in need. Before adding another commitment to your schedule, ask yourself first if you have the time and energy to help. It’s OK to politely decline the request if necessary.   

2. Exercise

Make exercise a priority before or after your shift. Move your body on your days off. Exercising helps your body release feel-good endorphins that boost your energy and mood and can have significant physical and mental health benefits. 

Take a fun approach, such as Zumba dancing or hiking with friends. You will find that as you exercise regularly, your sleeping habits will improve as well!

3. Find a Hobby

Make time for a hobby that creates joy in your life. Participating in an activity that distracts you from your normal routine will help you reset. Many hobbies bring a sense of accomplishment and recognition. Your hobby does not have to take a lot of time or energy. Ideas of hobby include knitting, painting, reading, or gardening.

4. Build a Support System

Friends and family are important. After a stressful shift, sometimes you just need to talk it out. If you have had a difficult patient or there are contentions between your co-workers, talking to someone might be just what you need to decompress. If you are seeking answers, note that not all conversations will lead to solutions. However, by participating in dialogue about your stress triggers, you may be better able to navigate certain circumstances in the future.

5. Prioritize Work-Life Balance

It might not always be easy, but strive to leave work at work. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is essential to feeling happy and healthy, on and off the job. While at home, focus your energy on connecting with your loved ones. Start shifting your mindset on your commute home by listening to your favorite music or podcast.

6. Meditate  

Take a moment to unplug. Listen to soft music or the sounds of nature. Find a spot that will allow you to be still and mindful. 

Meditation allows the time and space needed to regroup and regain focus. The practice of meditation helps us slow down and breathe deeply, clearing our minds of negative distractions and allowing room for a calm mind. 

7. Eat Well

Eating healthy and drinking the right amount of water each day will prove beneficial to your overall health. Maintaining a proper diet can help minimize the harmful effects stress has on our bodies. For example, consuming foods high in Vitamin C help boost your immune system, and dark chocolate can improve cognitive function and mood. Instead of turning to junk food in times of stress, try drinking an herbal tea.  

8. Seek Professional Help

With how stressful nursing is, you may find that your stress level is too much to handle, so you may want to seek professional help. Trained mental health professionals can provide you with individualized and practical ways to help reduce your stress. You can work with a therapist or psychiatrist to create effective strategies that improve your stress management.

Practicing healthy habits, including regular exercise and meditating, can help reduce or prevent some of the harmful effects of stress. Successful management of stress is essential not only to your well-being but your patients’ too.

Looking for better work-life balance as a nurse or CNA? Download the Clipboard Health app to start picking up shifts on your schedule.