3 Free Ways to Handle Nursing Stress

Free Ways to Handle Nursing Stress

As nurses, we may find it difficult to handle nursing stress. At times, it can seem that nursing is setup as a catch-22.

We want to be available, giving at all times to our patients. Nurses educate, advocate for, and empathize with people all day long. At the very same time, we need to be cognizant of our own well-being. For, how can we continue to give to others if there is nothing left to give from??

Nursing stress is the outcome of giving over and over and over to everybody else, leaving no time for us. Rather than struggle with this type of stress any longer, let’s commit to each other today- here and now- that we will do ONE thing to focus on ourselves.

Strategies for Nursing Stress

We hear you! No two nurses are exactly the same. For that reason, we need a list of options that we can choose from so that we can find the coping mechanism that works for us.

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1) People, Places, Things

I am reminded of a movie I used to watch as a child… the Sound of Music. When the children get together during the thunder storm and sing “These are a few of my favorite things…”

Free, free, and more free. A great way to relieve nursing stress is to surround yourself with people, places, and things that you enjoy.

  • Call family who live out-of-state
  • Walk around the neighborhood with friends
  • Play with your pets
  • Jump around the playground with your children
  • Enjoy a stay-at-home movie by yourself
  • Sit quietly, just resting in nature

2) Free Apps for Health and Well-Being

Sometimes you just need to pause when the nursing stress becomes unbearable. There are several free apps that you can use on your phone or other mobile device to get you through. Here are just three of our favorites (among the thousands to choose from) that can help you when you get stressed out:

  • Breathe2Relax: The Department of Defense’s Center for Telehealth and Technology created this app to help soldiers learn stress-relieving breathing techniques, but these can work great on nursing stress as well. The app trains you on the “belly breathing” technique that can lower stress and stabilize your mood. All you need is a moment to pause and breathe- which can be great for nurses who are constantly on-the-go. Before you enter a patient’s room, while you are washing your hands, or even as your pulling out your medications… breathe deep and watch the stress slide away.
  • Relax Melodies: As nurses, our schedules can be all over the place. With shift work and on calls, a nurse may not get the desired 6-8 hours per night (or day) that he or she needs. This app, with melodies, nature sounds, white noise, and even meditations, can help you get to a restful sleep each and every time you lay down. You can create your own relaxing melodies or choose from the already pre-made options. Listen all night or set a timer so that you drift off to a peaceful rest.

3) Purge the Junk

This is one of my all-time favorite ways to relieve nursing stress. I don’t know why, but for me… de-cluttering ALWAYS helps. Whether it is at the office, in my home, or even the car/pocket/purse… you name it, I will purge it.

  • First, pick your place. Where is the clutter piled up? When you look at it, what makes you most anxious? Choose the location that you want to focus on. And only let yourself do one space at-a-time (or it could get overwhelming).
  • Next, pick your time frame. Commit a certain amount of time to clearing the clutter. Then turn everything off (e.g. social media, texts, kiddos running in the room) and focus only on the purge.
  • Now, have at it! Look through every material object in the location of your choice. If you are in your kitchen, that means spices, refrigerator items, utensils, dishes… ALL of it. What did you not use in the past year? What no longer fills you up with joy? Practically speaking, what’s expired??
  • Finally, purge it. Put all of the old stuff into a container and get it out of here! You can donate it to a consignment type shop or other store that takes used items. Put it on the curb for neighbors or other donation services to pick up. Sell it via an online store or in-person yard sale. Get it out of your life forever!

What did we miss? What are some other ways to relieve nursing stress? Share what has worked for you in the comments below and thanks for reading!

Elizabeth Scala, MSN/MBA, RNAbout the Author: Keynote speaker and virtual conference host, Elizabeth Scala MSN/MBA, RN, partners with hospitals, nursing schools, and nurse associations to transform the field of nursing from the inside out. As the bestselling author of ‘Nursing from Within’, Elizabeth guides nurses and nursing students to a change in perspective, helping them make the inner shift needed to better maneuver the sometimes challenging realities of being a caregiver. Elizabeth received her dual master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. She is also a certified coach and Reiki Master Teacher. Elizabeth lives in Maryland with her supportive husband and playful pit bull.