Working in a high-stress environment can take a toll on the minds and bodies of those who work in the medical profession. Communication, maintenance of movement, and taking control of career direction can all help to reduce workplace stress.
Stress in the workplace is common in many careers. In the health care field, when dealing with life or death situations, stress is a known factor that most will face. While nurses often enjoy caring for others, they may find they need ways to deal with stress in a constructive way as they are often the most impacted. There are several areas where nurses can take control of their stress including the use of communication techniques, thinking positively, being physically active, using spirituality and taking control of their career paths to mitigate the effects of stress in the workplace and prevent it from becoming a safety issue. If you learn relaxation techniques early on in your nursing career the consequences of stress on your body and mind will be lessened considerably.
Exercise Assertive Communication
It’s amazing how quickly small issues in the workplace can expand to fill interactions with stress. The antidote is building empowerment over the operation of their day-to-day functions and including staff development as a topic of training.
According to the Mayo Clinic, assertive communication is a prime way to increase relaxation. Talking about ways to improve the system – for example, making healthy meals available or improving the scheduling of breaks – and knowing that your concerns will be listened to, understood, and acted on can help you feel like a valuable, contributing employee. Those who feel they might be whistle blowing when working to communicate issues will have higher degrees of stress than other employees. To manage this type of anxiety and keep staff morale high, it is recommended that communication policies be put into effect.
Another calming technique suggested by the Mayo Clinic is focusing on the positive aspects of situations. Every day holds small moments of pleasure that can be savored, whether it’s enjoying a cup of tea or receiving special thanks from a grateful patient.
Positive thinking can reduce your own stress as well as impact individuals around you, such as patients you care for. It makes a nurse more likely to interact with patients and coworkers in a kind and thoughtful way, and helps them focus on solutions rather than problems. This is a common practice in holistic nursing, where positive thoughts are thought to have power.
Increase Positive Physical Activities
Depending on a nurse’s role, nursing can already be a very physical career. The often repetitive movements required of nursing staff can be alleviated with healthy, de-stressing exercises.
One good way for hospitals and medical centers to encourage employee wellness is to provide access to exercise space. It can also be good for nurses to participate in classes such as yoga or Pilates where individuals can be inspired to relax in a group setting as well as learn skills to relax outside of class. The American Nursing Association is committed to encouraging physical health and provides suggestions through its HealthyNurse program.
Along with increasing positive activities, nurses can reduce the amount of time they spend on negative activities to help them remove stress as well. To help avoid burnout and reduce feelings of impatience, it is suggested that professionals reduce the amount of caffeine and nicotine they intake, as well as the amount they drink. Nurses who use less negative coping mechanisms are shown to be better able to manage stress for longer amounts of time.
Spirituality and prayer are often used to help manage occupational stress. An article featured in the Huffington Post cites experts whom attest to spirituality’s impact to reduce stress. Dr. Robert Lee, author of “The SuperStress Solution”, discusses spirituality as a tool to deal with life stressors. The book discusses a study conducted by the National Institute for Health Care Research (NIHR), which notes that Canadian college students more connected to their campus ministries visited doctors less and were less stressed during difficult times. Other ways spirituality often helps is due to support from the community, reinforcement of a belief system, assistance with bonding, and providing a set of “laws” to abide by.
Take Control of Career Paths
If you are unsatisfied in your current role, that alone can add stress to your work life. Registered nurses can further enjoy a sense of direction and purpose by taking control over their job paths. Forming a career development plan, and then following through on that plan by seeking out educational resources, removes many stressors from a nurse’s life and increases overall occupational health.
Courses in higher education give nurses the skills they need to steer their careers in a desired direction. Deciding to go this route may involve attending an RN to BSN or graduate program, which provides nurses the education they need to gain a liberating sense of purpose and confidence in career choices.