Stress Management Techniques Nurses Can Use at Work

Stress Management Techniques

As a nurse, I am sure that you have experienced a shift or two that was super stressful. And while we can find stress management techniques all over the internet- it can be tricky for us as nurses to apply these at work.

Not to say that other jobs aren’t stressful- but there are so many things that elevate stress levels in nursing.

  • The healthcare field itself is stressful. Nurses need various stress management techniques to handle the organizational and environmental pressures that are changing all of the time.
  • The specific job a nurse finds him/herself in adds another layer of stress. No matter what type of nursing role you work in- there is going to be pros and cons to every job!
  • The team dynamic that nurses participate in can couple efficiency with stress. Sure, we all need our various team members to get the job done. And at the very same time- working with diverse personalities and dynamic professionals can inadvertently increase stressors.

3-Step Stress Relief

Rather than continuing on with listing out the potential stressors in nursing- let’s get to the stress management techniques! This 3-step stress relief process is something that you can easily do… even while on the job!

In addition to the simplicity of what we are about to cover- it is also accessible to you. Anytime, anywhere.

A final perk? This 3-step stress management technique won’t cost a ton of money. Always a plus when we’re looking to lower our stress levels!

First, things first. You need to pause.

Now, I know. You don’t have time. Work is about running from task-to-task. You’re constantly being pulled in 20-million directions. It can feel like you don’t have a moment to spare.

Instead of arguing every objection in the book- think about it this way. If you pause for 10 seconds to do one thing that will decrease your stress level- would you do it?

If you could see results- meaning, that the 10-second pause saved you minutes or even hours at the end of the day, would you try it out?

Let’s talk about mistakes for a moment.

Because nursing is so fast-paced- because you are constantly pulled in a variety of directions- what are the chances that you might make a mistake?

And, I know. We don’t want to talk about it. Even think it- for fear that we go ahead and make an error on our next shift.

But the chance is there. It may just happen to you.

Now, if you make that mistake, what happens after it? You need to fix it. Figure out what was wrong and how to go about making it right.

You have to report it. There is likely paperwork that needs to be completed. You’re going to have to document the mistake and what you did to make it right. You may even need to page people or make phone calls.

So, a lot of work happens after the dreaded mistake was made, right?

Well, if you went backwards in time… back to when I was encouraging you to pause for just 10-seconds at a time… would you try it now?

Pausing for these 10-seconds may be super important to saving your time later on. Stress management techniques like these are put into place to help us in the long run!

Now, connect and breathe.

The next two parts of this 3-step stress management technique can be used interchangeably. What I mean is you can do this one next or you can do the last and then this one after it. Whatever works for you. I’m just sharing with you the step-by-step process I use, in the sequence I use it in.

Alright, so we are breathing and connecting. What do I mean by that?

Since you’re paused (and remember, for just seconds at a time) – you use this pause to ground your feet fully to the floor. Feel the foot connecting with the surface below. Feel your body in the paused moment, scanning from head to toe.

And take a nice deep, cleansing breath. In and out of your nose…

Breathe in for a count of 1, 2, 3, and 4. Pause at the top of the breath for just a second or so. Then exhale through the nose for a count of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.

There you have it.

Finally, choose your mood.

So, what do I mean by that?

First of all, to answer that question, let’s go back to the heart of this blog post. We’re talking about stress management techniques that you can use during your busy work day.

One of the biggest challenges we face as nurses today is ourselves. Hmm? What does that mean!?

Nursing is hard work. And because of the numerous pressures that nurses experience there are still those of us out there who are not the happiest of people.

C’mon. You all know what I am talking about. Is there a nurse or teammate that you work with who shows up to work in a nasty mood? A fellow coworker who just cannot seem to smile? Someone that’s constantly complaining?

These people exist! And, sometimes, in large numbers. If we are not careful they can suck us down to their level. Even if we showed up to work in the best of moods- talking to one of these folks for just a few minutes during our shift can totally change how we are feeling inside.

That being said, there are stress management techniques that you can use during the actual work day to keep yourself safe.

So, you’ve paused and taken one deep breath. The final part of this 3-step process is using some kind of totem to refocus your thoughts and feelings.

How do you do this? With a small, thumb sized object known as a worry stone.

I have these stones all over the place! In my car, wallet, office, jacket pocket- you name it, I have a worry stone there.

And what’s super cool about these worry stones as stress management techniques are that they fit into teeny-tiny places. No one even has to know that you have or use them!

Thinking about a nurse- she or he is wearing scrubs. What does each pair of scrubs have? That’s right- a pocket! Or, if you are a nurse who works in a job that wears street clothes with a lab coat… they have pockets too!

Pause. Connect. Breathe. And then place your thumb over your worry stone. Choose the intention that you set for the next parts of your day. Do this over and over again as much as you need throughout your shift.

And by using this stress relieving technique in the workplace you have the ability to have a great nursing day!

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.

(Note: I am an affiliate for Etsy. This means that if you decide to purchase this worry stone, I get a commission. However, I can assure you that this is a product I firmly believe in, and that is why I promote it and provide these resources to help you take full advantage of it.)