Blog Five Tips For Nurses To Cope With Workplace Stress

Five Tips For Nurses To Cope With Workplace Stress

Although the nursing field is credited as a rewarding profession, it is a stressful job. It demands that nurses must always be prepared, whether caring for patients or managing workload.

Despite the job taking a physical and psychological toll, the positive impact nurses get to make outweighs the stress. Still, it doesn’t negate the fact that nurses must prioritize their own well-being first.

Before we discuss how nurses can cope with workplace stress, let’s look at a few factors wreaking havoc on nurses’ health.


Factors Causing Stress In Nurses

Factors Causing Stress In Nurses

It was mentioned earlier that a nursing job is physically taxing due to the working hours that stretch as long as 12 hours. Besides that, nurses also have to deal with human suffering regularly. Furthermore, medical emergencies aggravate stress levels affecting their overall health.

Certain situations also provoke stress in nurses. The two most common are medication errors or the first time a patient dies. Stress contributes to burnout, causing nurses to perform poorly.

Technology with frequent changes in the equipment, relationships with staff members, and dealing with the patient’s emotional needs are a few other factors that contribute to stress.

Stress Management Techniques

Even if you completed your nursing degree from one of the top nursing schools, without clinical experience, you wouldn’t understand the stress of working as a nurse and how to deal with it. Clinical experience matters essential because it teaches nurses to become exceptional leaders in stressful situations and perform at their best.

1. Take A Timeout For Self-Care

Take A Timeout For Self-Care

Nurses often forget that to perform at their maximum potential, they must be physically and emotionally recharged. One way of doing that is taking time for self-care.

Self-care entails many things, from eating a well-balanced diet to catching up with pending sleep. Depending on the nurse’s needs, self-care falls into different categories, like spiritual, emotional, or social self-care.

Nurses often face barriers that prevent them from focusing on self-care. For instance, many nurses feel guilty when prioritizing themselves. Aside from a well-balanced diet and adequate sleep, practicing gratitude and nurturing relationships with friends and families are a few examples nurses can work on their well-being.

One way to overcome the guilt is by understanding the difference between self-care and self-directed activities. Self-care promotes balance in the body, whereas the latter involves doing things that make us feel good and must be done in moderation. Nurses must remember that the goal is not to accomplish all everything in one day but start small.

2. Establish Boundaries

Establish Boundaries

As a nurse, establish professional and personal boundaries to avoid burdening yourself at work. Though it might be a challenge for nurses on duty, work must be left at work on off days. Setting boundaries is important because it protects a person’s personal and mental space. It includes turning off email alerts, texts, or any work-related notifications.

Doing so also results in improved well-being, self-control, and self-esteem. One of the primary indicators of boundaries being crossed is when something makes you feel uncomfortable. When doing the deed, set limits with colleagues, managers, and supervisors.

As a nurse, a few tips for setting boundaries include addressing the issues calmly with the particular person and involving higher authorities when boundaries are crossed. Another key to ensuring boundaries is communication.

Communication that requires concrete language guarantees everyone is on the same page. When communicating around your boundaries, be specific and avoid being vague.

3. Unwind By Pursuing Hobbies

Unwind By Pursuing Hobbies

Focusing on something other than work allows people to unburden themselves and keep their minds away from stress. Besides providing relaxation, hobbies instill a sense of pride and accomplishment. That said, hobbies don’t need to be time-consuming; they could be as simple as reading, knitting, or working on an art project.

Hobbies have numerous benefits besides being an excuse for leisure activity. Activities performed in leisure time lower blood pressure and body mass index. Besides improving physical health, hobbies also positively enhance psychological well-being. Therefore, to cope with stress, nurses must find an activity to promote health.

Working long hours is normal as a nurse, so you are likely to feel guilty about it whenever you choose to take time out for yourself. Taking up a hobby is the ideal way out to curb that guilt. It is a break with a purpose, letting people know their downtime is productive, not useless sitting around.

4. Meditation

practicing meditation

Since the nursing field involves caring beyond the bedside, it sometimes affects a nurse’s well-being. Nurses must take time out for self-care; one way of doing that is by practicing meditation. Meditation is the mind’s exercise with only positive outcomes.

Therefore, to not forget themselves, nurses must practice mindful meditation regularly. Doing so reduces stress and burnout in nurses by eliminating self-judgment and increasing resilience and emotional regulation. To make it effective, pick a spot, choose a time frame, find a comfortable position, and start.

Another way nurses can cope with stress through meditation is by learning how to breathe. It is an effective strategy to develop resilience against stressful circumstances in the professional setup.

It is recommended that nurses focus on breathing for five minutes regularly. To do that, the basic foundation of diaphragmatic breathing must be understood.

5. Seek Therapy

Seek Therapy

Cognitive, behavioral, and group therapy are a few examples of how nurses can seek therapy to reduce stress or burnout. Cognitive therapy focuses on navigating an individual’s mind away from negativity.

That is accomplished by analyzing the reactions to a problem and revising the response. Behavior therapy is also somewhat similar.

Group therapy allows nurses to share their stories with people experiencing similar situations. Therapy enables individuals to voice their thoughts without the fear of being judged.

Other forms of seeking help from therapy include establishing a relationship with a supervisor or counselor. A counselor can help a nurse identify stressors that are easily overlooked.

Besides therapy, many organizations offer assistance programs dedicated to improving a healthcare professional’s well-being. Nursing is a taxing job, and taking the first step in getting help is paramount to wellness.

Other Ways to Manage Stress in the Workplace 

Other Ways to Manage Stress in the Workplace 

Other than the abovementioned ways to manage stress, there are other ways you can manage your stress. Following ways can help you manage stress:  

  • Tracking and identifying your stressors: This is one of the most important steps in stress management. You must ensure that you are actively seeking out signs of things that are stressing you out. As a nurse, it is easy to be lost in your duty towards the patients. However, there can be stressors even for you. So, make a conscious effort to seek the points that are acting as stressors.  
  • Take time to improve your boundaries. Work-life balance is an important aspect for you just as any other professional in this world. You must take care of yourself so that you can take care of your patients.  
  • Setting strict boundaries will help you differentiate between what is under your control and what you cannot control. This will give you peace of mind where you are clear on your needs, thus meeting the demands of your profession.  
  • Clear communication is a great tool to avoid stress at work. Sharing information with the patients, their family, and other professionals is a part of their routine. When there is poor communication, there is a high chance that there will be errors. Such errors can cause a lot of stress for the nurse.   
  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help you maintain a stress-free life. It is convenient to consume fast foods, however, it is not healthy in the long run.  
  • Small changes such as eating healthily and swapping caffeine for healthier drinks such as green tea can help control stress.  
  • Good sleep is something that everyone needs. If you are a nurse reading this, you do not have to be told again how sleep helps in maintaining the body’s proper functioning. There is a lot that is affected due to poor sleep, some of which are – poor memory, inefficient decision-making.  
  • Some of the hacks you can use for good sleep are using blinds to darken the room or using a sleep mask. This helps you produce melatonin (the hormone that helps us sleep.) 

Still not helpful? Try these 

How you utilize your free time also makes a difference in your ability to handle stress. If you want to have a good coping mechanism, seeking professional help is the way. You will receive proper guidance to develop a mechanism that fits your lifestyle and keeps you in a mentally fit state. 

You can try these:  

  • Spending time in nature during your breaks or during your free time. Nature has an aesthetically pleasing effect on us which helps in lowering stress hormone (cortisol.)  
  • Take at least 20 minutes out of your day to unwind and relax so that you can take the load off your mind.  
  • Journalling can help you take care of your emotional or mental stress that you cannot vent verbally. This proven method will surely help you take the load off.  


It might be the rule of thumb that a patient always comes first, but quality patient care outcomes are only possible when a nurse prioritizes their own well-being. The culture of prioritizing patients above everything must be changed.

As a nurse, if you want patients to remain uncompromised or reduce the ratio of medical errors, take measures to improve your wellness. That includes practicing mindfulness, setting boundaries in the workplace, and seeking therapy. All these elements help a nurse cope with stress and become an exceptional healthcare provider.


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