There are many physical and emotional factors that can increase the daily stress nurses experience. Nurses often face a higher-than-average level of stress due to the ongoing emotional strain from dealing with human suffering, long hours, new technology, staffing challenges and issues surrounding increasing healthcare costs. High levels of stress can affect your patient outcomes, work performance, and your physical and mental health. Even if you are well aware of the negative effects of chronic stress, that does not mean you can avoid stress. But, you can be proactive in managing it.

Alleviate Stress

If you wait until you are already stressed to develop stress management methods, your coping techniques might not be as effective. Being proactive and developing healthy coping mechanisms to utilize at work and at home can help minimize the negative effects of daily stress.

Stress Reduction Tips for Work

  1. Communicate with confidence.Feelings of powerlessness and poor or inconsistent communication can be a source of job stress. Sometimes the first step in reducing stress is gaining the courage to voice your concerns and start the discussion. Empower yourself and decrease your stress by:
    • Expressing ideas and concerns.
    • Speaking up against bullying and incivility.
    • Saying no to extra shifts when you are exhausted.
  2. Get organized.Prioritize tasks to decrease feelings of being overwhelmed. Delegate if you can.
    • Manage your time with a calendar that features positive quotes or inspiring images.
    • Review your upcoming schedule and coordinate it with your family’s needs.
    • Plan healthy snacks in advance for extra energy.
  3. Pause and regroup.There are times when it may not be feasible to leave the floor. If you recognize feelings of increasing stress, try one of the following:
    • Take a short walk, use deep breathing techniques, or mentally count to 10.
    • Keep hydrated. Stress and dehydration have some similar physiological effects such as headaches, rapid heartbeat and low energy.
    • Practice mindfulness by focusing on the moment and not worrying about things beyond your control.

Tips to Reduce Stress at Home

  1. Nurture a healthy work-life balance.Practice compartmentalization and try to leave your work worries behind when you go home.
    • Listen to an audiobook on your drive home to unwind.
    • Make a personal sanctuary in your home that includes your favorite music, reading material, candles or essential oils to help you relax as you transition from work to home.
    • If your outside support system includes coworkers, insist that you don’t discuss work while socializing.
    • Make time to do something each day that makes you happy. Maintaining hobbies is not an indulgence, it’s essential for good mental health.
  2. Include exercise.You don’t have to do a rigorous workout to reap the benefits of exercise. Improve your mood with positive endorphins by taking a short nature walk, choosing the stairs or parking farther away. Efforts to include intentional exercise can help to:
    • Reduce stress, depression and anxiety.
    • Lower blood pressure.
    • Relieve muscle tension.
    • Improve sleep.
  3. Express yourself.Identifying the cause of your stress can help you determine what to do about it. Journaling is one way to express yourself, examine your thoughts and explore difficult situations. Write freely to help determine if mental stress is causing you to suffer physically. Writing out your thoughts can help you decide if the issue is worth the negative physical effects you are experiencing. Stress can manifest itself in a multitude of symptoms:
    • Chronic pain.
    • Digestive issues.
    • Weight gain.

Manage Your Stress

It’s almost impossible to eliminate stress, but there are ways to make it manageable. Developing coping mechanisms that help you reduce stress can provide physical and mental health benefits. You can focus more on enjoying the positives of your nursing career and less on the negatives.

Learn more about the Nevada State College online RN to BSN program.


True Stress Management: 5 Effective Stress Management Tips for Nurses

American Psychological Association: How Stress Affects Your Health

Psychology Today: Stress: It’s Worse Than You Think

American Nurses Association: Combatting Stress

MAS Medical Staffing: Nurse Stress and Burnout: How to Deal With It Effectively Everyday