10 Tips for Dealing with Nurse Stress and Burnout

We all know that a day in the life of a nurse can be super stressful.

Life’s most impactful and emotional experiences are part of the job—but that doesn’t mean they don’t affect you.

That’s why it’s important to develop healthy habits and coping strategies to minimize the negative stress related to nursing job tasks and increase your resilience.

Keep the following nurse stress and burnout-busting tips in mind:

1. Learn to say “No.”

For professionals in healthcare, it’s often our natural inclination to jump right in when someone asks for our help – but if you already have an overloaded schedule, adding more to your plate isn’t the best choice.

Firmly yet politely say no if you are unable to offer additional help – your own health should always be first priority.

2. Practice compartmentalization.

Although you may have a high level of empathy for the people in your care, it can be taxing and contribute to your stress levels.

Compartmentalizing allows you to leave your work-related concerns at work when it’s time to go home after your shift and ensures you don’t absorb additional stress.

3. Develop emergency coping strategies for nurse stress.

When you get overwhelmed, you need some effective emergency coping strategies to regroup and calm down.

Some examples include:

  • going on a quick break by yourself somewhere quiet
  • taking a couple of deep breaths
  • counting to 10 before responding.

If you don’t have the opportunity to do either of these things, then it can be helpful, to be frank, and calmly say, “I’m feeling rather overwhelmed right now. I’d like to take a moment to catch my breath, and then I’ll be right with you.”

4. Create your personal safe place in your home.

Make your home your safe place!

A few ideas include:

  • choose furniture and accessories in your favorite colors
  • play music that helps you relax
  • have some plants in every room

If you share a home with others, see if there is a room or even a part of a room that you can claim for yourself to read, listen to music, or watch your favorite shows.

5. Do something every day that makes YOU happy.

If your days look like “wake up, commute, work, commute, sleep, repeat,” then you need to add a little bit of happiness to elevate your mood and add some positivity to your life.

Reserve 20 to 30 minutes a day to do something that makes you happy, whatever that may be.

6. Make friends outside of the workplace.

Although it’s great to become friends with your colleagues, you’re more vulnerable to continuous nursing job stressors because you’re also more likely to discuss professional matters even when you aren’t at work.

By also making friends with people who have nothing to do with your day job, you can avoid “talking shop” and feeling like you can’t leave the workplace behind.

7. Spend time in nature.

Spending time in nature is known to:

  • lower blood pressure and heart rate
  • relieved muscle tension
  • reduction of stress hormone production

So that’s an indication we need to get outside more! Try to spend at least an hour or so in nature every week—whether that’s walking your dog in a nearby national park, playing a round of golf, or even taking up a sport like sailing or paddle boarding so you can spend time on the water.

8. Keep a journal.

If you want to unload all of your frustrations and worries without burdening someone else, keeping a journal is a great way to express negative nurse stress and work through difficult situations.

Whether it’s using the Notes app on your phone or writing in a physical journal, finding ways to release your thoughts can help to relieve your stress.

9. Exercise regularly.

Regular exercise is one of the best ways to manage nursing stress and burnout in the long term AND help you sleep better.

To make exercise a habit you enjoy rather than a chore you’d rather forget about, choose an activity you like and be flexible in how and when you exercise.

10. Seek professional help.

Seeking professional help from a counselor or therapist is always an excellent option.

Counselors and therapists are trained to help you understand where your stress is coming from. They will work with you to develop effective coping techniques, as well as make any changes you need to manage your stress in the long term.

Find What Works For You

The most important thing to do is to find what works for you – and stick to it! Remember that your friends, family, and recruiters are all here to support you in whatever way they can.

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