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Stress-free Nursing

Caring for the patient's health and reducing their suffering is the main goal of a nurse and during this, one may come across very demanding and emotional patients, and short tempered physicians, which can really take a toll on you. Emergencies and quick decisions may also add to the stress which is already mounting. As nurses spend more time with the patients, they tend to develop a deeper connection with them. But all these come with a price – added stress!

Nurses have a strong desire to show their compassion and help reduce the pain and suffering of patients, which may lead to stress and fatigue by the end of the day. Here lies the importance of taking care of themselves. For nurses to help others, they have to be strong and well balanced. Fatigue and stress may place the patients in a risky situation as nurses tend to make mistakes more often during these times. This may lead to poor patient outcome and satisfaction. Long term stress may lead to chronic illnesses and depression because of mental exhaustion and physical fatigue.

The causes of stress are different in different people. Similarly, the way each one deals with stress also varies considerably. One of the major reasons for a total burned out feeling is that they fail to take care of themselves while catering to others. Kravits, RN, MA, senior research specialist in the nursing research and education department at the City of Hope in Duarte, California, offered a self-care program for nurses to help them deal with stress. All the participants were taught deep breathing, relaxation techniques, and guided imagery. They were also introduced to an art tool that helped them to assess their level of stress and create an affirmation that outlined what nurses wanted in life. All the participants had a significant reduction in emotional exhaustion after the program, showing that stress reduction can considerably improve performance.

Here are some easy ways to de-stress:

Positive thinking – Each and every thought about oneself has an effect on the body. One should appreciate oneself and treat themselves with respect. This will help to treat others the same way.

Identify the triggers – Response to a trigger varies from person to person. Nurses should identify their stress triggers, accept the one that is out of control and plan how to deal with them. Awareness about the stress-triggers is the right beginning towards de-stressing.

Resolve workplace issues – Working in a short staffed organization and putting in overtime are some of the major causes of stress among nurses. These are issues which can be solved with help of the administration. Having an employee assistance program where they can discuss issues with a counsellor may also be of help. Having stress-relieving activities in the workplace can improve the situation considerably.

Have an 'I, me' time – As in any other profession, nurses should try to balance work and life and make relationships outside the nursing circle. One can decline the requests for overtime and take breaks when required. But ensure that while taking breaks you do not feel guilty about it as it adds to the stress level.

Support co-workers – Workplace stress can be reduced by supporting co-workers and acknowledging successes. Having a supportive team will help render the best services to the patients.

Have healthy habits – Just like the advice given to the patients regarding healthy eating habits, relaxation and exercise, nurses should also follow a healthy lifestyle. Healthy diet and physical activity are the best stress relievers. The basic stress relief varies from person to person. For some it is running, while for others it might be art. Identify the one suitable for you and follow that sincerely. Don't forget the importance of good quality sleep to relax and rejuvenate.

Practice yoga – Practicing yoga can be a great stress relief for many. Follow the relaxation techniques, including deep breathing. This can be done during work and may help patients also.

Enjoy life – Trying to involve yourself in activities of interest would help you to unwind and relax. Also, try to find much needed balance in this fast paced world.